Kamakura

 

Kamakura Station is a station located in Kamakura, Kanagawa. It is served by the JR East Yokosuka and Shonan-Shinjuku Lines and the Enoshima Electric Railway.

 

Kamakura is a small quiet city of Kanagawa which was once the capital of Japan. It was during the Kamakura Period that Minamoto Yoritomo set up his Shogunate government here in 1192. The Kamakura Period lasted for over 250 years, after which it started declining and the Ashikaga government took over and moved the capital to Kyoto.  The reason Yoritomo selected Kamakura as the capital was its position – it is surrounded by mountains to the north, east and west; and to the south by sea. The only way to enter Kamakura was through narrow artificial passes through the mountains. This made it a very safe place.

 

During the Kamakura Period, the city of Kamakura prospered culturally and as a result, today has several historical sites. In all, there are twenty-six national, two prefectural, and nine municipal cultural sites. Kamakura is also known for its beautiful beaches and the hiking trails in the mountains.

 

The cultural sites of Kamakura are scattered throughout the city. Four of these are located within walking distance of Kamakura Station.

 

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

 

Of the many shrines of Kamakura, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is the most important. It was founded by Minamoto Yoriyoshi in 1063 near Yuigahama coast as a branch of Iwashimizu Hachimangu, Kyoto. It was later moved to its present location by Minamoto Yoritomo, the founder of Kamakura, in 1180. In 1191, the shrine was destroyed in a fire. It was then enlarged and rebuilt with its present layout. What was unique about this Hachimangu shrine was that it was a shrine of the guardian deity of samurai warriors, as well as a Buddhist temple, and joint ceremonies were held here for both Shinto and Buddhist believers. When the Meiji government took over in 1868, they did away with Buddhist ceremonies and Hachimagu became only a shrine.   

 

The main building of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu has a magnificent façade and looks beautiful from the main road. Besides the shrine building, the attractions on the grounds are a museum (a treasure house featuring all the valuables of the shrine); and a park with a pond, gingko trees, and two inscribed monuments. With over 2 million visitors each year, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is one of Japan’s most visited shrines.  

 

Various events are held at the shrine throughout the year, the most popular being the festivals held in the months of January, February, April, August, September, and December.

 

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is located 10 minutes walk from Kamakura Station. It is open from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Admission is free.

 

Jufukuji Temple

 

Kamakura has five great Zen temples, of which Jufukuji Temple is ranked number three. It is a branch temple of the Rikai sect of Buddhism. Jufukuji Temple was founded in 1194 by Minamoto Yoriyoshi’s wife and Priest Eisai, the founder of the Rikai sect of Zen Buddhism. 

 

The Temple consists of several buildings, the main one being called Sando. All the buildings stand in a line in the north-south direction and have L-shaped corridors leading to the main gate. The grounds are a beautiful park with a large pond which has a pavilion over it.   

 

Jufukuji Temple is located about 5-7 minutes’ walk from Kamakura Station in the hills, surrounded by forests and valleys. 

 

Ankokuronji Temple

 

Ankokuronji Temple was founded by Nichiren, also the founder of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism in Japan. Nichiren established the temple in 1253 when he came to live in Kamakura. He built the temple on a hill next to a cave that was used a training hall for his followers. Later, Nichiren’s pupil, Nichiro, built a prayer hall at the cave and named it Ankokuronji. Ever since, the temple has been called Ankokuronji Temple.

 

As the temple is built on a hill, access to it is through a short hiking trail through a wooded area. The views of Kamakura and Mt. Fuji are magnificent from the temple grounds. Ankokuronji Temple is about 15 minutes walk from Kamakura Station.

 

Myohonji Temple

 

Myohonji Temple is another temple of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism located on a hill not far from Ankokuronji Temple. It was built by Hiki Yoshimoto in 1260 in the place that was a sanctuary to pray for his father and other family members killed in the attack by Hojo warriors. The temple now contains two sanctuaries – the main one which contains a statue of a seated Nichiren, and another one which contains the soul of a woman, Jakushi Myojin, who had committed suicide during the Hojo attack. The graves of the Hiki family are located on the grounds behind the temple.   

 

Myohonji Temple is situated about 10 minutes walk from Kamakura Station.

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