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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.

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Sumo Wrestling: Part 12

Location: Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
Event: Grand Sumo Tournaments
Date taken: September 22nd, 2008
Camera equipment: Nikon D300 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D

Monday 4 May 2009

Kamakura: Hokoku-ji Temple

Hokoku-ji Temple, or sometimes known as the Bamboo Temple is actually off the list of my travel guidebook. However, I was told by my friend Tap about the beautiful bamboo forest there. So, I went off the beaten track to look for it in Kamakura.

It seems that the bamboo forest there is more popular than the temple itself.

Most visitors went straight to the bamboo forest before visiting the temple building. I was one of them.

The ambiance inside the bamboo forest was so serene that I felt peace of mind when I was in it.

Even some part of the ground was filled with green during my visit.

Along the trail, I saw a floor-standing lantern covered in moss. It was just so out-of-this-world kind of appearance.

At the end of the trailed, I was so overwhelmed by the intricate layout of this bamboo forest. There is even a viewing terrace for visitors to sit down and appreciate the forest in detail and at their own pace.

Well, a visit to a temple is not complete without visiting the temple building.

So, I paid respect to the host there.

After that, I was on the trail again to the other part of Kamakura.

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