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English > Interesting Places and Festivals > Historical Sites > Banzaisan Honkyo-ji, a Buddhist Temple

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update:January 20, 2016

Banzaisan Honkyo-ji, a Buddhist Temple

 

The first feudal lord* of Omura-han, Yoshiaki Omura, built Honkyo-ji in 1608. Yoshiaki was Christian by birth but gave up the religion because of the Tokugawa Shogunate’s ordinance to end Christianity in Japan in 1587 known as the Bateren Tsuihou. He converted to the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. Honkyo-ji was the first Buddhist temple built in Omura-han.
The main building is currently the oldest wooden structure in Omura City. Construction began in 1605 and it opened in 1608. In 1778, it burned to the ground in a devastating fire. It took 9 years to rebuild and reopened in 1787.The Buddhist priest's living quarters, the temple gate, and the belfry (bell tower) were built in the late Edo period.
Honkyo-ji has been the official bodai-ji (place to acquire enlightenment or place in which care is taken of one’s dead) of the Omura family's dead since Yoshiaki built it. The graveyard for successive lords of Omura-han is in the temple precinct. Large tombstones mark their burial spots, some of them standing 6 to 7 meters tall.

 

*Sumitada Omura, father of Yoshiaki, was the 18th and last feudal lord of Omura territory (Omura-ryo), so he was a Ryoshu (feudal lord of a territory). Yoshiaki succeeded Sumitada as the lord of Omura. However, when the Tokugawa Shogunate came into power, a new political system was put into place, which created Omura-han (a territory and administrative organization controlled by a feudal lord in the Edo period). Therefore, Yoshiaki became the first lord of Omura-han and was called the first Omura Hanshu (feudal lord of a han).