Engakuji Temple, Japan

Engakuji temple, Kamakura (3801185045)
Engakuji temple, Kamakura (3801185045) (Photo credit: Mindmatrix)

Ancient and beautiful is the Engakuji Temple in Kamakura, Japan. It is the main temple of the Engakuji faction of the Rinzai Buddhist sect and was founded in 1282. Hojo Tokimune, who was the most powerful man in Japan at that time, commissioned its construction to commemorate the deaths of both Japanese and Mongolian soldiers who died during the Mongold’s attempted invasion of Japan. It is number two of the five Kamakura mountain temples and is considered to be the most important Zen Buddhist temple complex in Japan.

Buddha carving at Engakuji temple, Kamakura (3801199863)
Buddha carving at Engakuji temple, Kamakura (3801199863) (Photo credit: Mindmatrix)

According to history, when the construction started, a stone chest was dug out of the hillside. Inside was a copy of the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, enjaku-kyo in Japanese, and thus the name was given to the temple. Although fire has damaged some of the 18 temples on site over the years, ancient inscribed rocks, pathways, stone carvings and other antiquities remain today. The temple gardens were restored in 1969 to the fullness of nature’s beauty, graced with tree peony and cherry blossom. In classic Chinese style, the various austere buildings form a straight line, rising up a wooded hillside among trees which blends together in a harmonious, overall composition. Cedar roofs and finely carved, wood beams within the structures demonstrate fine Chinese craftsmanship.

Kamakura Engakuji-Gate
Kamakura Engakuji-Gate (Photo credit: Uwe Because)

The Engakuji Temple has served as a center from which the influence of Zen could be spread. It is visited today by thousands of tourists, but continues to serve monks and the local Buddhist community as a sacred ground for prayer and meditation. There is a beautiful and inspiring statute of monk Mugaku, who was the first abbott of the temple upon its completion. The temple houses one of Japan's national treasures as well, the "Great Bell", which dates back to 130l and is worthy of contemplation while visiting the fmous Engakuji Temple.

Engakuji temple, Kamakura (3802008094)
Engakuji temple, Kamakura (3802008094) (Photo credit: Mindmatrix)

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