Kamakura Temples Walking Tour, Yokohama

Kamakura Temples Walking Tour (Self Guided), Yokohama

The vicinity of Yokohama abounds in Buddhist temples. Some of them are listed as national heritage. The most significant of them are found in the historic town of Kamakura, renowned for its rich religious scene.

Hase-dera Temple, perched on a hillside, is famous for its beautiful gardens and the towering Kannon statue, representing the goddess of mercy. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the ocean from this serene location.

Kōtoku-in Temple, home to the iconic Great Buddha (Daibutsu), is a must-visit. The enormous bronze statue of Buddha is an awe-inspiring sight and a symbol of Kamakura.

Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine is a unique place where visitors can participate in a traditional ritual of washing money to make it grow. This shrine is dedicated to Benzaiten, the goddess of wealth and good fortune.

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the spiritual heart of Kamakura. Its grand red torii gate and lush gardens provide a tranquil space for reflection and appreciation of Japanese culture.

Kenchō-ji Temple, founded in the 13th century, is one of Kamakura's five great Zen sanctuaries. It offers a peaceful atmosphere for meditation and a glimpse into Zen Buddhism's teachings and practices.

Exploring these religious sites allows visitors to reveal the culture, tradition, and beliefs of the East and particularly immerse themselves in Japanese spirituality. So, whenever you're in Yokohama or the nearby area, don't miss the chance to visit Kamakura and experience the moments of serenity amid the beauty of its remarkable temples and shrines.
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Kamakura Temples Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Kamakura Temples Walking Tour
Guide Location: Japan » Yokohama (See other walking tours in Yokohama)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 Km or 2.9 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Hase-dera Temple
  • Kōtoku-in Temple
  • Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine
  • Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
  • Kenchō-ji Temple
Hase-dera Temple

1) Hase-dera Temple

The Hase-dera Temple, also known as Hase-Kannon, is a Buddhist place in Kamakura. Even if the Temple is not located within Yokohama, it is worth the walk to this important historical place. Once there, visitors will find beautiful and peaceful spot rich in culture.

There are no accurate records showing the precise date the Temple was constructed. However, documents show the Temple was built during the Kamakura period, between the late 12th and early 14th centuries. It was a part of the Tendai sect of Buddhism but later became an independent temple of Jodu-shu.

Hase-dera Temple is arguably best known for its wooden statue of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, an extremely popular deity in Japan. At more than 30 feet tall, it is one of the tallest wooden statues in Japan. The statue has 11 heads representing the different phases in the search for enlightenment.

The statue is said to have been carved in 721 by a monk named Tokudo. At the time, he sculpted two figures. One was enshrined in the city of Nara. The other, held at Hase-dera Temple, was placed in the sea and washed up on the shore near Kamakura in 736.

There are seven buildings in the Temple's complex, a cave, hundreds of Jizo statues, and two pilgrimage paths.
Kōtoku-in Temple

2) Kōtoku-in Temple (must see)

The Kōtoku-in Temple is a must-see attraction for anyone who travels near the city of Kanagawa. Those visiting Yokohama should plan a trip to Kanagawa to see this impressive Buddhist monument.

The Temple, completed in 1252, is best known for its statue of Amitabha. Known as The Great Buddha of Kamakura, it is one of the most famous structures in the country. The bronze statue is more than 43 feet tall and weighs about 103 tons. Because the sculpture is hollow, tourists can explore the interior of the Buddha.

Some reasons and circumstances behind building the statue are still unknown. The statue was cast either by Ono Goroemon or Tanji Hisatomo, 13th-century Japanese sculptors. The statue was also gilded, but only traces of gold remained. Before the bronze statue, a wooden Buddha sat in this space. It was finished in 1243 but damaged by a storm in 1248.

At first, the statue sat in a large hall, destroyed by a storm in the early 14th century. Several halls were rebuilt over the years, but each was destroyed by acts of nature. Finally, in 1498, the choice was made to keep the Great Buddha in the open air.

Along with the Buddha, the temple grounds consist of the Nio-mon Gate and the Kangetsu-do Hall. The gate was moved from another area and rebuilt in the 18th century. The hall was once part of the imperial palace.

The grounds also contain a hand-washing basin, a pair of straw sandals, five feet in length, and a shop that offers a variety of souvenirs.

The iconic Buddha is a designated National Treasure.
Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine

3) Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine

The Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine, located in Kamakura, is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten. The area was founded by Minamoto no Yoritomo around 1185, the first shogun of the Kamakura shogunate of Japan, ruling from 1192 until 1199. However, the shrine was likely not built until the late 19th century.

The shrine is unique in Japan because it shows a combination of native and foreign religious beliefs. The goddess Benzaiten is the combination of a traditional spirit, known as Ugafukujin, and Sarasvati, a Buddhist goddess.

The Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine is a popular spot among tourists because it's believed that anyone who washes their money in the cave's spring will see it multiplied. This practice began in 1257 and remained a tradition.

The shrine has many Shinto gates and Buddhist statues. There is no charge to visit the shrine, but donations are accepted.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

4) Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

The Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is known to be the most important Shinto Shrine in Kamakura. It is also the location of many of the city's large festivals.

The Shrine was built in 1063 in Zaimokuza and moved to its current location in 1191. It was both a Shinto shrine and a Buddhist temple until the Shinto and Buddhism Separation Order of 1868 required all Buddhist artifacts to be removed. This act included the destruction of a seven-building Buddhist temple compound.

The temple complex consists of numerous torii gates, several bridges, two ponds, and many sub-shrines. Wakamiya, the Junior Shrine, Hongu, and the Senior Shrine, are considered National Treasures. The complex also has two museums: The Kamakura Museum of National Treasures and the Museum of Modern Art.

The temple complex used to be home to a 1,000-year-old ginkgo tree, sadly damaged in 2010 and completely uprooted. It suffered from rot, which caused its damage. The tree's stump and a part of its trunk were replanted and are now producing leaves.
Kenchō-ji Temple

5) Kenchō-ji Temple

The Kenchō-ji Temple is a Rinzai Zen temple in Kamakura dedicated to Jizo Bosatsu, the guardian deity of children and travelers. The Temple was founded in 1253 by the regent Hojo Tokiyori and Zen priest Rankei Doryu, and it's known as one of Kamakura's Five Great Zen Temples. It is also the oldest Zen training monastery in the country.

The Kenchō-ji Temple originally had a shichido garan, which means a large temple, and 49 sub-temples aligned north to south. Due to a series of fires that caused massive destruction, the temple grounds are now home to 10 sub-temples.

There are many important structures in the temple complex. Among them are the outer gate, or Somon, which was moved to the grounds from the Hanju Zanmai-in temple in Kyoto; the main gate, or Sanmon, was built in 1754, and the grand gate, or Karamon, was brought to the temple complex from Zojo-ji along with the Buddha Hall.

The Buddha Hall, or Butsuden, was named an Important Cultural Property. The Dharma Hall, or Hatto, was built in 1814 for use in public ceremonies. It remains the largest wooden Buddhist structure in Eastern Japan.

The other significant structures on the Temple's grounds are the head priest's living quarters and the Temple Bell. The Temple Bell, or Bonsho, was cast in 1255. It was named a National Treasure of Japan.

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles