Devotees of Nichiren Buddhism, a branch of Mahayana Buddhism founded by Nichiren (1222–1282), have been making the pilgrimage between Mount Minobu and Mount Shichmen for centuries. The height of Nichiren Buddhism was during the Edo period (1603–1868). This blog post describes the second stage of the pilgrimage between the village of Akasawa and Mt. Shichimen.
A group of Minobu residents and I set out from the foot of Mt. Shichimen at 10:00 am on a Tuesday morning and made the ascent to the top of Mount Shichimen in about three and a half hours.
Our climbing party encountered devotees chanting at the entrance to Mt. Shichimen.
Take care while you climb as it is easy to trip over the exposed roots of the trees that line the route.
You will see hundreds of plaques of devotees and benefactors at the many rest stops along the way.
After three hours of climbing, I met these two deer nibbling grass near Keishinin Temple’s bell.
Don’t be afraid to ring the bell when you arrive at Keishinin Temple. Once you have rung the temple’s bell, continue climbing until you arrive at the gate that leads to a staircase. Once you descend the staircase, you will arrive at the main temple building on Mt. Shichimen. However, don’t forget to take a good look at Mt. Fuji before you descend the staircase.
This was the view of Mt. Fuji at 2:00 pm.
Keishinin Temple is very beautiful inside, but you are not allowed to take pictures of the inner hall.
This is the front entrance to the temple.
Just inside the temple, you will find these attractive paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling.
Ask the monks to show you their huge kettle. It once served the needs of the entire temple before the arrival of electricity.
I really enjoyed our simple meals of vegetables, seaweed, pickles, rice and miso soup.
This is the morning view of Mt. Fuji framed by the temple’s gate.
The cloud formation on top of Mt. Fuji reminded me of either a UFO or a hat.
On our three-hour descent of Mt. Shichimen, we encountered an 800-year-old horse chestnut tree. Such trees demand your respect and admiration.
If you are planning to stay overnight at Keishinin Temple (on top of Mt. Shichimen), make sure you bring some warm clothing as it can get quite chilly at night. In addition, please remember that although a Japanese bath and hot water are available, you are not allowed to use soap (for environmental reasons). Here is the information you need to ensure a great stay at Keishinin Temple:
The cost is 5,200 yen per person (paid after you have checked in). Guests normally check in between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm.
You can take a bath between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Please don’t use soap.
Breakfast and dinner are included in the price of your stay. Dinner was served at around 5:00 pm, and breakfast was served at around 5:30 am.
Guests are invited to prayer at around 6:30 pm. After the prayer, which I highly recommend you attend, you will be given a tour of the temple. You can also attend prayers that start after 4:00 am, but I think most people watch the sunrise over Mt. Fuji instead.
Checkout is after breakfast. It is a fairly informal checkout. We just grabbed our stuff and said thank you. Of course we put our palms together and bowed as we left.
If you would like to stay at Keishinin Temple, the telephone number is +81-55-645-2551. Please call during regular Japanese business hours. Although the monks are willing to speak in English, please remember that their language abilities vary. If you are having trouble communicating, just give them the basics, i.e. your name, how many people, and when you intend to stay. Keep it simple, and you should be fine.
I am sure I have forgotten something, but as long as you go with the flow, you will be fine.
Please check my other blog post:
Mt. Minobu to Mt. Shichimen Pilgrimage (Stage One)
Take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to JR Shizuoka Station, change to the JR Tokaido Main Line for JR Fuji Station and then board the northbound JR Minobu Line for JR Minobu Station (1.5 hours). You can also access Minobu from JR Shinjuku Station in 3 hours by taking an express train to JR Kofu Station on the JR Chuo Line. Once you arrive in Kofu, you will change to the JR Minobu Line for JR Minobu Station. Take a taxi or a bus from the train station to Minobusan (Kuon-ji Temple). The taxi is about 2,000 yen, but the bus is only about 280 yen. Alternatively, you can access Minobu by bus from Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal (3.5 hours). Once you have descended Mount Shichimen, you can take a bus to JR Minobu Station from Sumise Bus Stop which is located at the foot of Mount Shichimen in the small village between Akasawa Village and Mount Shichimen. Of course, you can walk all the way back to Mount Minobu if you are a purist.