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.
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.
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 ¥6,500* per person (paid after you have checked in). Guests normally check in between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm (* 2018 price).
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 email address is firstname.lastname@example.org (the monks are willing to communicate in English via email). The telephone number is +81-55-645-2551 (fax number is +81-55-645-2553). Please call during regular Japanese business hours. Although the monks will try 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. Better still, send an email just to be sure.
I am sure I have forgotten something, but as long as you go with the flow, you will be fine.
Take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to JR Shizuoka Station, change to the Limited Express Fujikawa bound for JR Minobu Station (departures at 8:17, 9:41, 11:41, 13:39, 15:40, 17:40, 19:40). 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, but the bus is only about ¥280. 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. You will find the Sumise Timetable below.