October 2009


Kamakura Engaku-ji 3

Kamakura Engaku-ji 1

Kamakura Engaku-ji 4

Kamakura Engaku-ji 5

About 700 years ago, Japan was attacked by Mongolia. It was the most unprecedented national crisis the country ever encountered. The Executive Tokimune Hojo continued his daily study of Zen during this troubled time.

The Japanese beat back the Mongolians and Tokimune, whose following of Zen was his mental support during this tumultuous period, wished to spread the ways of Zen, and thus the Engaku-ji Temple was built.

The Temple Shorei-in is in the Engaku-ji Temple School of Rinzai-shu, one of the largest Zen School in Japan. The Shorei-in temple was originated in 1375 by Koen-Myokan-Zenji. The present main temple is the place for those who want to learn and pursue the Zen spirit.

The Shore-in temple has various kinds of lovely and wild Japanese flowers throughout the year, but is open to the public only in spring and autumn.

— Information from the Engaku-ji brochure and information panel of the Shorei-in Temple.

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Kamakura Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū 4

Kamakura Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū 2bis

Kamakura Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū 3bis

Kamakura Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū 5
(You can see the details of the paintings here by clicking on the image to enlarge it, and compare it with the brochure photo below. The two women who painted these were off for lunch.)

Kamakura Tsurugaoka Hachimangu brochure image 6

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū is the most important Shinto shrine in the city of Kamakura. Originally built in Zaimokuza in 1063 by Minamoto no Yoriyoshi, it was moved to its present location by the founder of the Kamakura shogunate Minamoto no Yoritomo. A Shinto shrine now, Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū was also a Buddhist temple for most of its history. The shrine is at the geographical and cultural center of the city of Kamakura, which has largely grown around it. It is the venue of many of its most important festivals.

— Wikipedia: Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū

Kamakura Daibutsu 1bis

The seated Buddha, Amida Nyorai, known by the familiar name of the Kamakura Daibutsu, is the principal deity of Kotoku-in Temple. It is a national treasure.

Construction of the Daibutsu began in 1252 and continued for approximately ten years. The costs of construction of the Daibutsu were met by the priest Joko who successfully persuaded members of the community to make the necessary donations.

Among the records of the temple, the name of Hisatomo Tanji appears as a craftsman responsible for the casting of the Daibutsu, and a man known as Grouemon Ohno appears in the temple lore, but the designer of the original model and many other details surrounding the construction remain unknown to this day.

It is believed that the hall which housed the Daibutsu was twice destroyed by strong winds in 1334 and 1369, and was not rebuilt again.

Height including the the pedestal: 13.4m
Height of the cast: 11.3m
Weight: 121tons

(Information from the entrance ticket)

Kamakura Hase-Dera Temple 1

Kamakura Hase-Dera Temple 2

Kamakura Hase-Dera Temple 3

According to legend, in 721 AD the monk Tokudo Shonin discovered a large camphor tree in the mountain forest of Hase. He had it carved into two statues of the eleven-headed Kannon. The Hase-Dera Temple is the fourth station among the 33 holy places in the Kanto region.

— Information from the brochure of Hase-Dera Temple

Kamakura Masamune swordsmith 1

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Kamakura Masamune swordsmith 2

Tsunahiro Yamamura is the 24th generation of the family Masamune.

Yamamura Samurai Swordsmith

Kamakura Zen initiation at Jochi-ji Temple

• Zen exists in one form: the Absolute Now. Now, Here, and Yourself is all that matters. Go for everything Now. Your Past and your Future depends on Now. Everything that matters is Now. Now is never anywhere but Now.

• Sincerity is the Reality. Everything in your head is a Mirage.

• Your body is like a mirror: What you see, hear, smell and taste does not remain. And because nothing remains, the heart and mind is at peace. Meet each instance with a new mind and a new thought.

• Zen is all that is simple.

(Zen meditating at the Soto Zen Sect Soji-ji Head Monastery with Soto Buddhist monks: Tsurumi Ward at Yokohama City, Japan)

The Practice of Zazen © Sotoshu Shumucho

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(Click on the images above to enlarge them, and further click on the magnifying glass icon).

Kamakura Kencho-ji Temple 1

Kamakura Kencho-ji Temple 2

Kencho-ji Temple is first in rank of the five great Zen Temples of Kamakura and is the oldest Zen training monastery in Japan. The Founder of Kencho-ji was Lan-hsi Tao-lung (1213-1278), a Chinese Zen Master of the Sung Dynasty. He left China in 1246 to teach Zen in Japan.

Kamakura map bis

(Click on the map image to enlarge it, then using the magnifying glass icon, click on the area which you wish to see a close-up view of).