Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sites : Engaku-ji Temple, Kamakura, Japan

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / Footsteps / Travel Sites / Engaku-ji Temple, Kamakura, Japan
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Kamakura, Japan - November 2013
From the moment I set foot down at the Kita-kamakura Station, the sight of the Engaku-ji Temple already endeared me. From the station, one only sees two small post markers with the small Uramon entrance arch further back. This simple but captivating entry point promises of what lies beyond and tugs on one's curiosity to enter and find out more.

The best way to get to Engaku-ji Temple is to take a train and alight at the Kita-kamakura Station
That's what we did while on a cycling tour in Japan (... see blog). Of course one can diembark at the bigger Kamakura Station which is much further away, but getting down at this small station sets the mood right for visiting the temple.

Even the sign-ages are made of pine-wood and suitably placed at corners to blend in well.

The sign tells a brief history of Engaku-ji.
Wow! It's more than eight hundreds years old, founded in 1282 to commemorate the successful repelling of Kublai Khan's invasion of Japan.

I put here the Layout Plan of the Engaku-ji Grounds for you to better relate to the buildings location as I proceed along.

Engaku-ji lies on the hill slopes KIta-kamakura on the outskirts of Kamakura, and the several buildings sits on tiered platforms as on proceed up. From the ticketing platform, after entering through the Uramon Gate, are the steps leading to the Sanmon (the Main Gate Pavilion).

Front view of Sanmon, it's a two-tiered roof structure made from dark timber. This structure dates back to 1783.

Another view - showing the beauty of the curves of its asymmetrical roofs.

The bottom view shows the intricate timber structure of the column supports, floor beams and joists. Some carving on the beams "lighten" up the view of the heavy structures.

The rear of the entrance pavilion with its unique pastel green roof, seen from the main hall.

A peek through the roofs show the steps that will lead us up to the next building, the Main Hall.

The Butsuden is a single storey structure, but with its two-tiered roof it can easily be mistaken for a double storey one. It looks tall as inside it has a very tall hall to house a large Buddha.

The Butsuden was rebuilt recently in 1964 after it was destroyed in an earthquake.

Closer view of the two-tiered roof.

Side view of the Main Hall.

Inside is an altar with a wooden Sitting Buddha statue called the Shaka Buddha. The following extract from Onmark Productions explains this - "When Buddhism arrived in Japan in the 6th and 7th centuries AD, Prince Siddhartha became known in Japan as Shaka or Shakamuni, which means “Sage of the Shaka Clan” (his actual birth clan). In Japan, Shaka Nyorai (translated as Shaka Tathagata or Shaka Buddha) is venerated widely among most Buddhist sects".

Close up view of the wooden statue of Buddha Shaka seen sitting on a lotus bloom. The gold trimmings make it look even more elaborate.

On the ceiling is a painting of "A Dragon In The Seas". I wonder whether this dragon represents the "Kami" typhoon that destroyed the Mongol fleet in their failed attempt to invade Japan.

On the outside, to the left is the Senbutsujo Building, one with thatched hay roof.

And beyond that, steps leading up to the Ryuinan.

Moving upward, walking along nicely landscaped pathways, we headed for the Shariden.

There is no entry from the Main Gate, entry is through a smaller side gate.

The main gate itself is rather interesting, with intricate carvings of lions at the top jambs and gold trimmings for the roof rafter ends.

An intricate carving of a flying dragon on the wooden door panel.

The Sheridan is a single storey building, small yet important as it is reputed to store one of Buddha's teeth.

To one end, is a beautiful arched roof leading to another section of the building.

Inside, the warmth belies the cold weather outside. This view here is the altar area.

A close-up view of the altar, I wonder whether the vase at the centre is the one holding Buddha's tooth.

The Sacred Place Of A Hundred Kannons.
This is a place where devotees coming on a pilgrimage to Engaku-ji will have to stop by and pray. With prayers completed, a seal is attached to a devotee's special visiting booklet called the Gyonokcho as proof that the devotee has completed the pilgrimage.

Temple residence on top of a hillock above a reflecting pool.

A Japanese cemetery set into a hillside.

A bamboo grove beside the path way leading to the Ohgane Bell.

The torii gate leading up to the Ogdane Bell. The Ogdane Bell is a national treasure of Japan, just like how the Liberty Bell is to the United States. Running short of time, I missed taking the steps up to view this, pity.

Finished with the tour, I walked briskly down this comfortably wide pathway down to meet my friends.

Set on amid a forest at the foothills of Kita-kamakura, Engaku-ji Temple truly encompasses the Zen concept of simplicity coupled with a serenity that blends well with nature. It is a place worthwhile visiting and should not be missed when visiting Kamakura.

Engaku-ji Temple
Address : Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture,
Yamanouchi-409, 247-0247, Japan

Phone: +81 467-22-0478

GPS : 35.336689, 139.547521
Web Page : (in Japanese)
Hours : 8:00am -5:00pm (Everyday)
Admission : 300Y

Engaku-ji Temple, Kamakura, Japan Location Map (Google Map Link)

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