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Top > Head Temples - Hoko-ji Temple

Head Temples

Temple Name: Hoko-ji 方廣寺

Mountain Name: Shinnozan 深奥山

Address: 1577-1 Okuyama Inasa-cho, Hamamatsu-shi, Shizuoka-ken, 431-2224 Japan
Tel: 053-543-0003; Fax: 053-543-0249



Hoko-ji, located deep in the mountains of western Shizuoka Prefecture north of the city of Hamamatsu, is the head temple of the Hoko-ji branch of Rinzai Zen, with approximately 170 associated temples. It was established in 1371 by the regional lord, Okuyama Rokuro Jiro Tomofuji 奥山六郎次郎朝藤, who invited as founding abbot Mumon Gensen 無文元選 (1323–1390), a son of Emperor Go-Daigo 後醍醐 (r. 1319–1339). Gensen had become a monk at Kennin-ji and trained under the masters Kao Sonen 可翁宗然 (d. 1345) and Sesson Yubai 雪村友梅 (1290–1346). In 1343 he went to China, where he practiced under the master Gumei Zhengyou 古梅正友 (1285–1352). After receiving the Dharma Seal of the master he traveled further in China, residing for a time at Tiantaishan 天台山. In 1350 Mumon returned to Japan and did further practice in the mountains near Shizuoka, where Okuyama Rokuro Jiro Tomofuji studied Zen under him.


Among Hoko-ji’s notable buildings is the Hanzobo Daigongen 半僧坊大權権現 (middle photo). The Hanzobo Daigongen was built in honor of a deity that is said to have appeared to Mumon Gensen when his ship encountered a storm on the way back from China. The deity, vowing that he would protect Mumon so that he could return to Japan to teach the Dharma, guided the captain and helped the ship survive the storm. Later, after Mumon had become priest of Hoko-ji, the deity appeared again and asked to study Zen. He was dressed partly as a monk and partly as a layman, so the master called him Hanzobo 半僧坊, “Half-monk.”


Another notable structure is the Shichison Bosatsudo 七尊菩薩堂 (Important Cultural Property), a shrine built in 1401 that honors seven Shinto deities and Buddhist bodhisattvas. Hoko-ji is also known for its stone images of the Five Hundred Arhats (the five hundred enlightened disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha), located at various places around the temple grounds, including atop a stone bridge (photo to right).