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North Kamakura

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Kamakura 2 - North Kamakura (November 2009)

Great Buddha is very popular in Kamakura, but that is not all.
If you go to North Kamakura, you will see many attractive Zen sect temples.
You mind will be calm when you are surrounded by the sacred atmosphere.

JR Kitakamakura Station is small and quiet comparing to Kamakura Station.
Engakuji Temple is very near to the station.
Late November and earlr December are the season of beautiful autumn red leaves.

Entrance of Engakuji Temple

It was built in 13th century by inviting Zen priest from China to console the dead by the war against Mongols.
Kamakura Feudal Govenment spread Zen Buddhism as Buddhism of Samurai warriors and common people.
The following left photo is the temple gate, Sanmon.
It is said that if you walk in through the gate, you will be free from difficulties and troubles.
The right photo is Kojirin, Zen hall. You can experience sitting meditation experience on Saturday.

Sanmon of Engakuji Zen sitting meditation hall

Engakuji Temple is also known by its beautiful subtle and profound garden.

Garden in Engakuji Temple

Meigetsuin Temple is 10 minutes walk from Engakuji.
It's nickname is Hydrangea Temple. Hydrangea is full of flowers in June and July.
But it is worth to visit all the year round.
This is circle window in main hall. This is a symbol of Zen Buddhism which means never ending life.
The window works as a frame and the view from the window is like a picture.

Circle window of Meigetsuin

Dry landscape garden is another feature of Meigetsuin.
The white sands represent ocean and the rocks represent difficulties.
Zen priest perform sitting meditation by watching these garden to empty your mind and find the answer.

Dry landscape garden in Meigetsuin

Yagura, the tomb stone in the cavern is unique to Kamakura area.
The one in Meigetsuin is one of the biggest Yaguras.

Yagura, tomb stone in MeigetsuinYagura, tomb stone in Meigetsuin

Jizo is Bodisattva who is a gardian of the earth.
It is also believed that Jizo is a gardian of child. People put on the red costume for thankfullness.
Jizo who hold the flower pot is very unique!

Jizo in MeigetsuinJizo in Meigetsuin 2

Tokeiji Temple is also very nearby the Kitakamakura Station.
It's nickname is Divorce Temple.
Until 19th century, the wife could not express the will of divorce. Only husband had the right.
But there was an exception. If you enter this temple and serve for 3 years, then you will get the permission of divorce.

Tokeiji Temple, divorce templeTokeiji Temple, divorce temple 2

Jochiji Temple is situated next to Tokeiji.
Its approach is very quiet and beautiful with trees.

Jochiji Temple

Kenchoji Temple is situated between Kamakura and Kitakamakura Station.
It is the first Zen Buddhism temple in Japan built in 13th century.

Main gate of Kenchoji Temple

There still exist old constructions (Bell tower) and trees (Chinese juniper) from 13th century.

Belltower of KenchojiChinese juniper from 13th century

The painting of dragon on the ceiling of Hatto Hall is impressive.
Dragon in western countries are believed as an evil animal, but in Buddhism, it is believed to spread Buddha's teaching.
Normally dragon in Japan has 3 fingers, but it has 5, the Chinese way.

Dragon on the ceiling of Kenchoji

The Zen style garden is beatutiful (the photo was taken in June).
Its beauty gives you the Zen spirit. The pond represents the chinese character, 'Mind'.

Zen garden in Kenchoji

Each temple has its own beauty and characteristics.
It will be very interesting experience to visit several temples to understand Zen Buddhism in Kamakura.

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