Ikegami Honmonji Temple: Half-day Itinerary
Start: Ikegami Honmonji TempleThis hilltop temple complex, founded by famed Buddhist monk and teacher Nichiren, complex hides a host of important cultural buildings. The five-story pagoda is the oldest one in the Kanto Region and the stupa that holds the ashes of Nichiren is unique in Japan for its architectural design. In mid-October, the temple precincts come alive with the annual lantern festival (known as O-eshiki) that commemorates Nichiren’s dates. The highlight is a parade of massive mando, poles of cherry blossom-imprinted lanterns, that process from the nearby Ikegami station to the temple’s main hall.
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Ikegami Temple TownWith the founding of the Ikegami Honmon-ji Temple in the late 13th century, a town to cater to the influx of pilgrims grew up in the neighborhood surrounding the complex. Several of the remaining shops, still sporting wooden fronts and tile roofs, sell products ranging from various kinds of mochi (traditional treats made from pounded rice) to senbei (rice crackers), a selection of which are emblazoned with images of Honmon-ji itself. In the block closest to the 96 stairs that lead up to the temple, a handful of sub-temples let visitors peek into their carefully manicured gardens.
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Hasunuma Onsen is located a 20-minute walk south of the Honmon-ji temple precincts and temple town area.
Finish: Hasunuma OnsenEnd your half-day of exploration with a relaxing soak in one of Ota Ward’s superb natural onsen. The water at Hasunuma Onsen is piped up from deep beneath the Tokyo Bay. Known as kuroyu (black hot spring water), it contains miniscule particles of plant matter that are said to aid in beautifying the skin. The tile murals on the walls, depicting cascading waterfalls and snowy mountains, make bathers feel as if they are soaking in an outdoor hot spring. Hasunuma Onsen has a host of amenities available for purchase, so there’s no need to bring your own bating supplies or even towel.
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