Kamakura Stroll Pt 1

It was nice and sunny on the weekend so we went down to Kamakura, the rival capital of Japan to Kyoto during the 12th and 13th centuries. It’s an interesting place for an aimless wander, full of little back streets, old houses and cafes. These are some shots from around town.

An old house:

TOASI Kamakura Old Japanese House

Travelling in style:

TOASI Kamakura Rickshaw

A traditional sweets shop:

TOASI Kamakura Okashi-ya

Beckoning cat:

 TOASI Kamakura Cat

I’m not sure what these flowers are but they have an interesting shape:

TOASI Kamakura White Plant

At a temple:

TOASI Kamakura Woman in Temple

TOASI Kamakura Temple Pink Flowers

Taking in the Autumn colours:

TOASI Kamakura Bridge

Kencho-ji, Kita-kamakura

This is Kencho-ji temple in Kita-kamakura, one stop north of the main Kamakura area, which is the most important and the oldest Zen buddhist temple in Japan, founded in 1253 by a Chinese Zen master. Though most of the buildings date to the 17th and 18th centuries (when everything is made of wood, fire becomes a perennial problem!), the Chinese Juniper trees near the main hall are said to date back over 700 years. The whole complex is very impressive and ‘zen’.

The main sanmon gate (1754):

The main halls:

The zen garden behind the main halls:

Garden seen through the hall:

Behind the temple, a set of stairs leads up to a small Shinto shrine, built in 1890, guarded by fearsome karasu-tengu (‘crow tengu’ – a kind of Japanese goblin) statues:

Continuing past the shrine, there is a walking path that leads right around the hills that surround Kamakura. From the top (on a clear day anyway), you can get wonderful views down to the bay and out to Izu O-shima islands or even all the way to Mt Fuji. This is a small statue of a mother and child near the top:

Sugimoto-dera, Kamakura

This is the oldest temple in the Kamakura area, Sugimoto-dera, founded in c734. The name means ‘cedar root temple’ and refers to a story that when the original temple burnt down in 1189 the three eleven-headed kannon, buddhist statues, interred there were carried safely from the temple unscathed by the fire and placed under a cedar tree. The temple is up away from the main area of Kamakura so is quite a pleasant and peaceful walk away from the crowds, left mainly to pilgrims in white.

This is the main gate:

 This is Fudo Myo-o, the God of Fire, who holds a sword in his right hand and a rope in his left:

These are the original stairs used by pilgrims to ascend to the temple. The flags read ‘eleven-headed sugimoto kannon’:

 The temple: