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建長寺 Kenchoji Temple

  • Buildings (Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals)
  • Around Kamakura
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  • ClosedOpen Every Day

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Maps are rarely carried out with accessing from mainland China.

District
Around Kamakura
Address
8 Yamanochi, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa 247-8525, Japan
Category
  • Buildings (Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals)
Opening Hours
8:30-16:30
Closed
Open Every Day
Website
http://www.kenchoji.com/
Tel.
+81-467-22-0981
Date of post:2015/06/12

The first Zen temple in Japan!

  • Temple / Shrine

Built in the mid-13th century, Kenchoji Temple is the oldest Zen temple in Japan. Also it’s designated as the highest rank of the five most prestigious Zen temples in Kamakura, modelling after the method of Chinese Zen concept. It became a symbolic Zen temple during the Kamakura period which was ruled by Samurai warriors, and the culture of Zen spread from here.

Temples usually have its main Buddhist statue, and the one in here is Jizo Bodhisattva. Jizo is a popular image and familiar with everyone, as we often see them on the roadside. They usually wear a red bib, as it’s mainly a guardian for children, and it’s said that the wishing for children led their parents to offer the bib to protect them. Also the colour of red has been thought to drive bad spirits away from ancient times. The Jizo Bodhisattva here isn’t wearing a red bib, but its wish to save all the people, including children is the same. Jizo Bodhisattva has another role; to shoulder the punishments on behalf of sinners and save them, while walking. Especially the place around the temple used to be an execution ground, and this statue was placed to save those people after their death.

There is another hall, which houses another statue of Bodhisattva – multi-armed deity or Thousand Armed Avalokiteshwara. This is another type of Buddhist Bodhisattva, which tries to save people from 1000 different worlds at the same time. The actual number of its arms are usually 40, 20 each for both sides, and it’s been said that each arm saves people of 25 worlds. Does it add up? There are even a few statues, which actually have 1000 arms. There is another Bodhisattva statue in front, which might be unfamiliar one. It’s the image of Buddha during fasting. You might be able to sense how hard his training was. On the ceiling, there is a big painting of Dragon, which was offered by a local artist. Dragon is one of the images, which sometimes depicts at temples, and it is thought to be a guardian of Buddha.

After looking at those statues, the arrow will guide you to the beautiful Zen garden. It shouldn’t be difficult to imagine, considering the temple is the oldest one in Japan, this Zen garden is the oldest Zen garden in Japan. The characteristic of this garden is that it’s a “Borrowed landscape”, which includes the landscape of the nature such as mountains far behind. This way is often used for Japanese garden.

The building with tatami, straw mat, behind the garden is called Hojo, and monks and priests used to live here but now it’s mainly used for memorial services. Also Zazen, or zen sitting meditation can be experienced here. Tourists can join at a certain time.

Opening hours: 8:30-16:30
Price: Adult ¥300 (JPY) / Child ¥100 (JPY)

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