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:

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