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Crowdfunding started to revive Minobu’s only onsen and restore local tourism

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By Connie Sceaphierde, grape Japan

Deep within the mountainous region of Yamanashi Prefecture, a major Buddhist temple clings to the slopes of Mount Minobu. This temple, known as Kuon-ji – though nicknamed Minobu-san-ji by the locals – was founded by the priest Nichiren in 1281, and has been a popular place for pilgrimage since the Sengoku era.

The temple sees an average of 1.5 million people per year, who up until 5 years ago, could take a relaxing soak in the local Minobu Onsen before or after visiting the main complex. This onsen was the only public hot spring of Minobu town, and when it unfortunately closed due to bankruptcy a few years ago, the area lost a popular attraction.

Just like pouring salt onto an open wound, the influence of the coronavirus has also meant that the town has seen a dramatic decrease in visitors over the last year and a half. In an effort to boost back the town tourism industry and local economy, a crowdfunding campaign has been started to reconstruct and revive Minobu Onsen.

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According to legend, the hot spring water of Minobu Onsen attracted the powerful daimyō and warlord Takeda Shingen in the 16th century, who would often come to soak away his weariness and heal his wounds following battle.

The goal of the crowdfunding campaign is to reignite the popularity of Monzen Cho (the area surrounding Minobu Onsen), which at one point was the busiest area in all of Minobu.

Suggestions of the project include playing traditional music on the streets during weekends, opening a beer terrace which serves up original temple beer brewed at Kuon-ji, creating an open space that can be used as an ‘oasis’ or gathering point for pilgrims and worshippers, and the opening of gallery and souvenir shop centered on artists from Yamanashi.

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As for the onsen facilities, the plan is to update the building and renovate the four guest rooms to include an open-air bath in each. Once completed, the onsen will welcome guests for workations, in-house artist stays, long stays and day use.

The ultimate goal is to create a community that will be popular among both inbound tourists and the younger generations. As a whole, the aim is for the area to become a hot spot for a variety of purposes such as worship, sightseeing, and retreats.

The project calls for support on crowdfunding website CAMPFIRE, where the target amount has been placed at 5 million yen. The planned project schedule is as follows:

Project Schedule

October 2021: Terrace beer design, planning

November 2021: Crowdfunding finished, Terrace beer store construction started

December 2021: Souvenir gallery space design, plan making, return shipping

March 2022: or later Hot spring facility renovation design

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© grape Japan

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Kuon-ji is the head temple of Nichiren Shu and this is where Nichiren spent the final years of his life.

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