posted on July 10, 2015

Main gate of Engaku-ji Temple

Main gate of Engaku-ji Temple

Getting off the train at Kitakamakura Station, you’ll see the stone stairs up to the first gate of Enkaku-ji Temple.

Autumn leaves season

Autumn leaves season

If you are lucky enough to visit the temple in the autumn foliage season, you’ll be amazed by the beauty of maple trees stretching the branches over the stairs.
The premises of Enkaku-ji Temple spread along the valley formed by the erosion of the hills. The temple buildings are built along this valley, so you visit each building walking up the valley. The temple still has the atmosphere of what it was in medieval times, and coming across ascetic monks in the serene premises surrounded by wooded hills may make you feel as if you had strayed into the past.

Engaku-ji Temple is one of the five important Zen Buddhist temples in Kamakura, which are called Kamakura Gozan (Kamakura’s Five Mountains) in Japanese. The term mountain in this expression means a temple or a monastery.
Engaku-ji was founded in 1282 by Mugaku Sogen, a prominent Chinese monk of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism. He was invited from China by the 8th regent of the Kamakura Shogunate, Hojo Tokimune who was the actual ruler of Japan at that time.


Sam-mon Gate

Sam-mon Gate

Sam-mon Gate

It is said the Sam-mon Gate symbolizes the empty state of mind where nothing troubles one’s mind because there is nothing to be compared with or hoped for in the mind.

According to Buddhist teachings, people can get rid of worldly sins by walking through the Sam-mon Gate, and reach a meditative state of mind.




Butsuden, the Buddha hall

Coronet Buddha

Coronet Buddha:photo by 1m064

In Butsuden, this temple’s principal image of Buddha is enshrined.

This Buddha wears a coronet, so it is called coroneted Buddha.

In front of this coroneted Buddha, a large white dragon is depicted on the ceiling. It is glaring menacingly at visitors with large fearless eyes, squirming its body.

In Japan the dragons has been awed and revered by people, being regarded as the god of water and ocean.






Shari-den, the Reliquary Hall



Shari means the ashes of Buddha.Generally, Buddha’s ashes are enshrined in Shari-den, but in this Shari-den, Buddha’s tooth is enshrined.

This beautiful wooden building with elaborate decorations represents the Zen architectural style called Zen-shu Yo, which was introduced from China along with Zen Buddhism.

Shari-den is designated as a National Treasure of Japan.




Engaku-ji Temple is 1-minute walk from Kitakamakura Station on the JR Yokosuka Line.

Engaku-ji Temple website: click here.


スクリーンショット 2015-07-10 15.08.30




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