Kanazawa-Bunko 

 

Kanazawa-Bunko Station is located in Kanazawa Ward, Yokohama, in the south of Tokyo. The station is operated by Keihin Electric Express Railway (Keikyu) and is served by its Keikyu Main Line.

 

Kanazawa Ward is located in Yokohama's southernmost part. On the east it faces Tokyo Bay, which has given its symbol of the sea, waves, and a gull. Kanazawa is best known for its museum, Kanazawa-Bunko, and the temple Shomyoji.

 

Kanazawa-Bunko

 

Kanazawa-Bunko is a private museum located a short walk from Kanazawa-Bunko Station. It features a private collection of traditional Japanese and Chinese art objects, which includes Kamakura portraits, Japanese and Chinese calligraphy, Buddhist sutras and Zen writings.

Kanazawa-Bunko was originally a library opened in 1275 by Hojo Sanetoki (1224-1276), a grandson of Hojo Yoshitoki, the second regent of the Kamakura Shogunate. The Hojo Family held enormous power during the Kamakura period and as such held many ancient Buddhist and Chinese scriptures and writings. Hojo Yoshitoki opened the library to display this collection and be used by students and scholars. This collection, which consists of more than 30,000 books and manuscripts, is still there - well preserved and maintained. With time, as the Kamakura period ended and other periods followed, all the precious art collections of the Kamakuras were added to the library, thus it turned into a museum.

 

Today, besides the library, the museum has some priceless art objects – among them the celadon from the Chinese Song period, pottery from Tang and Han, and the eleven-headed Kannon (Goddess of Mercy), which have been designated as Important Cultural Properties in Japan. This oldest library of Japan and the priceless collection of Kamakura treasures are maintained by Shomyoji Temple, which stands next to Kanazawa-Bunko.

 

Entry to the museum is 250 yen for adults, 150 yen for those under 20, and is free for children under 15 and senior citizens 65 and above.

 

Shomyoji Temple

 

Shomyoji Temple is located right next to the museum. It was built by Hojo Sanetoki in 1252 on a Hojo family estate. Originally founded as a shrine for Sanetoki's deceased wife, it was later converted into a temple when Sanetoki became interested in Buddhism. It remained the family temple of the Hojo clan till the time they remained in power.

 

The spacious grounds of Shomyoji Temple are approached through Nio gate. The grounds are a beautiful Jodo style garden with a large pond, called Ajiike Pond, in the middle. There are two bridges – one arched and one flat – over the pond. The garden was originally styled by Shoitsu, a monk of the Kamakura period who specialized in garden design. It was restored in 1978 to its original glory by following maps and drawings of the earlier period, and is today one of the few 12 th century design gardens in Japan.

 

The temple buildings are on the other side of the pond and have to be reached by crossing the bridges. The main temple building is called the Golden Hall, which still has the original thatched roof. Inside this hall is the main object of worship, the 1.9 meter high statue of Miroku Bosatsu, or the Buddha of the Future. This statue is said to have been built in 1276 and is kept inside locked doors as they say its “time has not come yet”. The other temple building is Shaka Hall, where prayer meetings are held.

 

The temple flourished during the times of Sanetoki's son and grandson, who further added more halls – Miroku Hall, Goma Hall, the three storied pagoda, the Lecture Hall, and the main gate, Nio Gate. But after the fall of the Hojo family in 1333, the decline of the temple began and it started losing its fortunes. The buildings were later restored during the Edo period.

 

Sanetoki's grave lies on a hill behind the temple buildings.

 

Entry to Shomyoji Temple grounds is free.
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