Renowned for its azaleas, this temple is home to the tomb of Hojo Masako, a famous woman in Japanese history
This temple, which is famed for its azaleas, was originally sited in a different location. Initially, Hojo Masako (daughter of Hojo Tokimasa, the famous ruler of the province of Izu) built a temple called Choraku-ji that was dedicated to the memory of her late husband, Minamoto no Yoritomo (founder of the Kamakura shogunate), but that was destroyed by fire in 1333. It was then rebuilt in the current location and renamed An'yo-in, after Masako's posthumous Buddhist name.
Its short, gently-sloping path, eight stone steps, and main gate all contribute to the charm of this historic temple. Upon entering the temple precincts, beyond the trees, you can see a stone pagoda behind the temple's main hall, standing more than 3 m high: this is the oldest such pagoda (called a "Hokyointo" in Japanese) currently standing in Kamakura, and marks the tomb of the priest Sonkan, which has been designated as an Important Cultural Property. Beside it is a small hokyointo - just 1m tall - that is believed to be the tomb of Hojo Masako, and one can actually see that the characters carved into the stone do read "Masako", along with her posthumous Buddhist name, An'yo-in.
The main objects of veneration, the Amitabha Buddha and the Thousand-armed Kannon (Goddess of Mercy), are enshrined in the main hall, along with a wooden statue of Hojo Masako. Moreover, in front of the main hall, watching over this famous temple, stands an immense kusamaki (Podocarpus macrophyllus) tree that is said to be more than 700 years old and has been designated as a natural monument. If you visit An'yo-in while taking a stroll around Kamakura, you'll be sure to find peace of mind.
Address: Omach, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa
Hours open to visitors: 8:00-16:30 (with a 12:00-13:00 break)
Admission Fee: 100 yen (admission)
Closed: July 8 and December 29, 30 and 31
Directions: Take the Keihin Kyuko Bus bound for Midorigaoka-iriguchi from the east entrance of Kamakura Station (on the JR Yokosuka Line, 50 minutes away from Tokyo Station) to Omachi-yotsukado, which is a 3-minute ride. Then walk for 3 minutes to the destination. Or, walk for 12 minutes from Kamakura Station (on the JR Yokosuka Line, 50 minutes from Tokyo Station) to the destination. (Car) 20-minute drive from Asahina Interchange on Yokohama-Yokosuka Road.