Address: 〒861-1331 Kumamoto-ken, Kikuchi-shi, Waifu, Tatemachi 247
~~ NOTE: This is part 2 in a 5 part series of my adventures around Kumamoto on January 22nd. ~~
So I've done my best to find information about this temple, but there isn't much. The temple used to have a website, as various other places have referenced and linked to it, but the temple website no longer works.
The temple was originally founded in 1594, but it was only a small meditation hall at first. It wasn't until 1631 that it began to transform into a full temple. Unfortunately, as often happens with wooden buildings in Japan, the temple caught fire and burned down. So in 1672 it was rebuilt at its current location. You can still find a monument to the original temple at the Shisui Machi Board of Education. Cool!
In 1894, fire once against ravaged the temple and the main hall was burned down. So the temple was rebuilt for the last time in 1897. And so stands the current building (probably).
The temple itself represents the Nichiren School of Buddhism. If you know anything about Nichiren Shu (not to be confused with Nichiren Shoshu), know that they LOVE the Lotus Sutra. It's their favorite thing. Nuff said.
There is one other feature of interest at this temple, and that would be the large camphor tree outside the temple. This tree is a grave for Yoshimura Gisetsu, a Japanese patriot who helped lead a small group in attacking the prefectural governor Yasuoka Ryosuke. This small group was strongly opposed to the new Meiji government and their attempts at rapidly Westernizing the country. He feared that the Japanese people were losing their unique culture and spirit. Unfortunately, his little rebellion had no effect, and the whole group was beheaded for their crimes. Because Yoshimura was born in Waifu (the same region of Kikuchi City the temple was built in) the tree at Myurenji was later designated his memorial site, and a stone was erected next to the tree in remembrance.
The tree itself stands at about 33 meters tall and is estimated to be over 600 years old. The tree was designated a Kumamoto Prefecture Natural Monument on July 23rd, 1963.