Hojo Tokimune built Engaku-ji late in the 13th century when he was the most powerful man in Japan. The temple was built on a spacious 60,000 sq m site for the purpose of memorial services for those killed in the battle against the Mongol Invasions of 1274 and 1281. (The Mongols, having conquered China, established the Yuan Dynasty, and tried twice to conquer Japan). A noticeable feature of the temple is the positioning of its buildings, which stand almost in a straight line within the temple grounds. This is a style specific to temples of Zen Buddhism, and Engaku-ji has historically played a central role in Zen. Within the temple compound are various buildings including a two-storied gate of sturdy wooden construction and a Buddhist sanctum enshrining sacred images. Most prominently, the Shozoku-in is a building that has existed since the founding of Engaku-ji, and is still used today as a setting for ascetic training for monks who travel here from all over the country. The Shari-den (a hall in which some ashes of the Buddha are enshrined) is designated a National Treasure and is open to the public for three days a year from 1 January, when it is thronged with visitors. The temple is also valued for its status as the oldest example of Tang Chinese-style architecture left in Japan.A huge temple bell suspended at the mound to the right of the temple gate was cast early in the 14th century. It is around 2.5 m high and 1.4 m in diameter. The bell has been designated a National Treasure.
Address: 409 Sannouchi, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa
Admission Fee: 300 yen (regular fee)
Closed: Open throughout the year
[Walk]JR Kita Kamakura Stn./1-min. walk