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Friday 8 May 2009

Kamakura: Kencho-ji Temple

Kencho-ji is a temple of Zen Buddhism. It is ranked as the first among the five Zen Buddhism temples in Kamakura. It was founded in 1253 and the first head monk was a Zen monk from China.

The entrance to the temple is through the outer gate (Somon) of the perimeter wall made of timber. Just beyond Somon is the ticket booth. The main gate of the temple, Sanmon, is already in sight from here.

Sanmon is a two-storey pavilion with an open terrace at the ground floor and an observation deck on the upper floor.

Behind Sanmon is Butsuden (Buddha Hall) at which the statue of Buddha is housed.

Butsuden is supported by many timber columns around the inner perimeter of the building with painted ceiling panels.

The Buddha statue sits right at the centre of Butsuden. Buddha forever looks calm and peaceful.

Right behind Butsuden is a bigger temple building which is Hatto (Dharma Hall).

Hatto is the largest Buddhist wooden structure in Western Japan. It is used for public ceremonies nowadays. The skeleton-like figure in front of the Buddha statue resembles the look of Buddha himself at the time when he attained nirvana, if I am not wrong.

By the time I reached Hojo (Main Hall), it was already closed. So, I missed the chance to see the Zen garden that is shaped in the form of the Chinese character for mind (心). However, I kept on exploring towards the back of the temple compound and I followed the path up the hill at the temple garden.

There is a bamboo forest half way up the hill of the temple garden which looks very much like the one at Hokoku-ji, but smaller.

I walked deeper into the temple garden and needed to climb the steps from time to time.

Near the end of the temple garden are some statues of Tengu which are entities similar to goblins.

On top of the hill stands Hansobo, the protecting Shinto shrine of Kencho-ji.

It was already late evening when I reached the top of the hill of the temple garden, so I descended and before I left, I took a look at the Bonshō (Temple Bell) which was cast in 1255. It is now a National Treasure of Japan.

With this post, I have concluded my tour to Kamakura.


Mojo said...

I love these tours. Hard to imagine a wooden structure holding up to the elements for so many hundreds of years. And in such amazing condition too. Excellent essay CK!

CK Ng said...

Thanks very much for your encouraging words, Mojo. :)

jams o donnell said...

What an amazing temple. Great shots. Happy WW

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