Kencho-ji Temple

Explore the compound of the much-celebrated Kencho-ji Temple

Kamakura is a hotspot for some of Japan’s most significant temples and shrines. Many of these revered locations are connected by beautiful hiking trails, and traversing them provides meaningful encounters with Japan’s natural beauty and Buddhist history.

History Nature & Outdoor Temples & Shrines
Engage with nature and spiritual traditions to understand Japan on another level.

Engage with nature and spiritual traditions to understand Japan on another level.

The very first Zen temple in Kamakura, this landmark was founded in 1253, and sees guests coming face to face with the temple bell (Bonsho) which has been designated a national treasure, before passing through an impressive Sanmon gate. The grounds and garden are stunning, and there are many traditions to view and experience, such as guided meditation or Zazen sessions held multiple times a year.

Behind the temple’s main grounds, following the path and stairways for 15–20 minutes leads visitors to another shrine, Hansobo, designed for protection of Kencho-ji. An observation deck here provides views of Mt. Fuji on clear days. Even further back, a second observation deck marks the start of the Ten-en hiking trail. Visitors can follow this path for about one hour through the northern Kamakura hills to another temple, Zuisenji.

Kencho-ji Temple is number one of the five great Rinzai Zen Buddhism temples of Kamakura, and is dedicated to the practice of Zazen,or seated meditation. Seeing the tranquil temple that has functioned in largely the same way for nearly 800 years, and taking in the serene gardens, visitors will be transported to a newfound state of mindfulness. Understanding Buddhism on a deeper, personal level not only provides insight into this particular temple but also enriches the broader experience of exploring Japan, rewarding visitors with heightened perspective on all aspects of their journey.

Kencho-ji Temple

Kencho-ji Temple

Kencho-ji is just a 15–20 minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station on the JR Yokosuka Line. The entire area is filled with enchanting shrines and temples, alongside hiking paths traversing the northern Kamakura area. Aside from quaint beaches and shopping, Kamakura offers a wealth of Japanese cultural experiences for the inquisitive traveler.


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