myōhonji: in search of the elusive mossy steps   8 comments

Saturday, June 17:  By the time I make it to Myōhonji, in the southeastern hills of Kamakura, it’s 3:40 and I realize that the chance of getting back to Hasedera by 5:00 is very slim. I seriously doubt I’ll have the energy to tackle that crowded Enoden Line to get back there; nor do I feel energetic enough to even stand in the line to see the hydrangeas.  Instead, I take my time trying to find some beautiful mossy steps that my Japanese friend Yukie posted on her Instagram feed.

Myōhonji is one of several temples of the Nichiren sect of Japanese Buddhism; it was founded by Hiki Yoshimoto in 1260 ( Myohonji Temple).

gate to Myōhonji


The Nichiren sect of Buddhism was founded by Nichiren in 1253. The sect was exceptional due to its intolerant stance towards other Buddhist sects. Nichiren Buddhism still has many millions of followers today, and several “new religions” are based on Nichiren’s teachings. ( Buddhism)

gate at Myōhonji


There is an extensive cemetery on the temple grounds and I go exploring every nook and cranny in search of the mossy steps.

cemetery at Myōhonji

cemetery at Myōhonji

I find one set of somewhat mossy steps, but they are not the ones I saw in the photographs.

somewhat mossy steps at Myōhonji

I continue to search, but, while I admire the pretty cemetery, I can’t seem to find those steps. 🙂

Coming down a path from one section of the cemetery at Myōhonji, I see this leafy path and wonder if the steps might be found here.  I wander down the path for a bit, but I don’t find them.

a leafy path

A statue of Nichiren stands to the left of the main hall on the temple grounds.

statue of Nichiren

statue of Nichiren

I walk up some other non-mossy hydrangea-lined steps to another section of the cemetery to no avail.

stairway to heaven

cemetery at Myōhonji

stairway lined with hydrangeas

cemetery at Myōhonji

cemetery at Myōhonji



I love the colorful carvings over the door of the gate.

gate at Myōhonji

If I can’t take pictures of mossy steps, I might as well take some fern photos.

ferns, but no moss

I follow another path, but it only leads to another small shrine.

hydrangea path at Myōhonji

bicycle in the bushes at Myōhonji

small shrine at Myōhonji

hydrangea pathway


In the end, I give up.  I can’t find the mossy steps anywhere. It’s 4:20 when I finish at Myōhonji, and though it might be possible to make it back to Hasedera, it will be too much of a rush. I have a long walk back to Kamakura Station, plus I have to wait again for that frustrating Enoden Line and then climb up that hill through all the crowds at Hasedera.  I’m simply to hot, tired and exhausted after visiting Meigetsu-in, hiking the Daibutsu Hiking Course, visiting two temples along the way, seeing the Great Buddha and visiting Hasedera and Myōhonji.

At Kamakura Station, I get on the train to go back home.  After arriving at Fuchinobe, as I ride my bicycle home, I decide I’ll stop in at Curry Naan to have dinner.  I don’t feel like cooking after today, and I’m really sick of eating Bento boxes from the 7-11. I enjoy my regular vegetable curry and a huge piece of naan.  For some bizarre reason, the beer is filled to the brim with ice cubes.  I’ve never encountered that here before!  I’m paying for mostly ice and very little beer. 🙂

Vegetable curry at Curry Naan

This has been one very exhausting day!

Total steps (including Meitgetsu-in, the Daibutsu Hiking course, the Great Buddha, Hasedera, and Myōhonji): 23,379 (9.91 miles).

I’m wiped out!  Luckily it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so I can finally have a relaxing day. 🙂



8 responses to “myōhonji: in search of the elusive mossy steps

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  1. Will you still attempt the ajisai @ hasedera walk?

  2. You managed to see plenty of hydrangeas anyway. And it looked a lot more peaceful here. I think the moss steps you did find were rather pretty, though I certainly wouldn’t want to climb them! Hope you had a relaxing day off to recover from today!!

    • Oh my gosh, Jude, yes, I saw so many hydrangeas. The Japanese certainly go all out on their gardens; they also enjoy visiting places with seasonal displays. Because this particular temple didn’t have hundreds and thousands of hydrangeas, it was luckily pretty much overlooked by tourists. I found out from my friend Yukie that I went to the wrong temple for the mossy steps. I went to Myōhonji rather than Myohoji. Notice the missing “n” in the temple I was supposed to go to! Oh well, time is up now, so whatever I haven’t seen will have to go unseen. Even if I came back to Japan one day, I would never need to come back to the Tokyo area as I saw everything I wanted to see. I still would love to do the 88-temple walk someday though (that’s in the south). I just went to Nikko, far north of Tokyo, for my last weekend, and on Tuesday, after my apartment inspection, I’ll be cut free from Westgate and be on my way to Hiroshima. I honestly just look forward to being home, but it will be nice to travel a bit too. Since I’ve been going nonstop, I badly need a rest. Also, I miss Mike and the kids. 🙂

  3. God, you’re even more driven than me! 🙂 🙂 I’m exhausted!

  4. I’m sorry you traipsed around for so long without finding the mysterious mossy steps…but I too like that colorful carving, and the small shrine. Not the statue of Nichiren though – so cold and mechanical looking. Kind of the feeling I have about that branch of Buddhism I guess. I’m as prejudiced as the next person! 😉
    p.s. Dinner looks so good!

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