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建長寺 Kenchoji Temple

  • Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals
  • Kamakura
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  • Price RangeAdult 500 (JPY)
    Children 200 (JPY)
  • ClosedOpen Every Day

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Maps are rarely carried out with accessing from mainland China.

8 Yamanochi, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa 247-8525, Japan
  • Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals
Opening Hours
Open Every Day
Price Range
Adult 500 (JPY)
Children 200 (JPY)
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. It is at 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 their 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 and are guardians for children. Also the color 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. 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 from 25 worlds. There are even a few statues, which actually have 1000 arms. There is another Bodhisattva statue in front, which might be an 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 a Dragon, which was offered by a local artist. The Dragon is thought to be a guardian of Buddha.

After looking at those statues, the arrow will guide you to the beautiful Zen garden. 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 gardens.

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 at certain times.

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

  • * The information above is from the date of the review. Please be aware that some of the content may vary from the most recent information.
Other Sightseeing Spots of Yokohama, Hakone, Kamakura (Kanagawa)

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