Soul of the Garden

Images of Japan:

Kita - Kamakura

Located just inland from Kamakura and Hase, Kita-Kamakura is part of the great cultural and historical legacy of the Kamakura - Minamoto era. Gorgeous temples, monasteries, and a Buddhist convent line the road to Kamakura. If you are going to visit the Kamakura area, Kita-Kamakura is the most logical starting point if you arrive by train from Tokyo (less than one hour away.) Engaku-ji is the most famous of the temples in Kita-Kamakura, it was built to commemorate the souls lost defending Japan from the Mongol invasions of 1274 and 1281. All of the temples in this area have lovely grounds. Be sure to follow the trails up the hillsides behind the temples to visit the quiet cemeteries filled with poignant statues and shrines. I was especilly moved by the cemetery of Tokei-ji, a Zen temple that was known as the "Divorce Temple" because it offered sanctuary to women who were trying to escape from bad marriages or cruel husbands. Apparently, if a woman stayed at the temple for three years she was officially considered divorced. The temple was used as a convent until the nineteenth century and is still revered by the women of Japan.


One of the main buildings of Engaku-ji.


Roof detail, Engaku-ji.




Engaku-ji as seen from a hillside cemetery. Note the thatched roof of the shrine in the foreground.


A charming statue.


The Buddha's hand.


More peonies.


The "yard" of a monk's living quarters.


A closer view.




A shrine in an enclosed courtyard.


A wider view.


Irises spilling down a hillside.


Another of the shrines at Engaku-ji.


The cemetery of Engaku-ji.




Another view.


A beautiful basin.




A memorial tucked into the hillside.


A Buddha statue at the Tokei-ji convent.


The cemetery at Tokei-ji.


A broom left by a woman who was cleaning the grounds (while she talked with visitors.)


Moss covered basin and stones.


Moss geometry.


The pathway through the cemetery at Tokei-ji.


The light spilling down through the trees.


Fern growing from a crack in a wall.




Another hillside nook.


Cin mudra.


Jnana mudra.



A gorgeous stone basin.


Ajuga blooming in the orchard of Tokei-ji.


The gate of Tokei-ji.


An honored resident.




The gate or Somon of Kencho-ji another of the prominent temples of Kita-Kamakura, the oldest Zen temple in Japan.


Ascending the hillside in the Kencho-ji complex.


Dragon painted on ceiling of Enno-ji Temple.





The view through a meditation room.


A little closer.


In one of hte meditation halls ( a bowl shaped bell.)


A turf covered bridge at Enno-ji.




A charming carving of a house-full of jizos.

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