Kamakura_Two

Kenchoji

The first Zen temple in Kamakura (1253, the fifth year in the Kencho-era, from which comes its name), and the pioneer in Zen Buddhism in Japan, Kenchoji ranks first among the five major Zen temples in Kamakura and is the head of over 500 branch temples. In the Kamakura period, Kenchoji had seven main buildings and 49 sub-temples, and more than 1000 people were living in the compound, but all of the original buildings were destroyed by fire, earthquakes, and civil war. The present buildings were either built or rebuilt recently or brought from outside Kamakura. Kenchoji is the oldest Zen training monastery in Japan.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Kenchoji Temple is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Kamakura Temples 1
Kotoku-in (Kamakura Daibutsu), Kenchoji

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Kenchoji_Sanmon_detail_0913


Kenchoji Sanmon 0913

The Sanmon gate stands 30 meters high (~100ft). Approaching it from above on the hill allows an
unusual perspective, shooting level with the rail. Not the best angle for the light, but great for the gate.

The Sanmon was built in 1754 with donations from all over the Kanto region. According to a popular
legend, a raccoon dog helped raise the money by transforming himself into a monk to repay a kindness
(they have been known to do that when the need arises). For this reason, the gate is called the “Tanuki-Mon”.

KenchojiSanmon_detail_0917c


Kenchoji Sanmon detail 0917c

The plaque over the gate was written by the Emperor
Gofukakusa (1243-1304) and states the temple name:
Kencho Kokoku Zenji. This indicates that kenchoji was
 patronized by the Imperial Court. A Kara Hafu gable
 covers the plaque, and completes the copper roof.

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Kenchoji Sanmon detail 0921c

Detail showing the structure supporting the roof.

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Kenchoji Sanmon 0918

On the second floor of the gate are 489 cast bronze statuettes of Rakan (Buddha’s disciples),
cast between 1830-1860. There is also a cast bronze statue of Shaka Nyorai (Sakyamuni).

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Kenchoji Bonsho 0925

Residing under this thatched roof is the Bonsho, or temple bell. It is the only object or structure
that has been here since the temple was founded. It is one of the two bells in Kamakura to
be designated as a National Treasure (Engakuji’s bell is the other). The inscription by
the Founder, Rankei Doryu, has the first use of the term Zen-ji (Zen Temple).

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Kenchoji Bonsho 0929

Cast in 1255 by Mononobe Shigemitsu (a famous smith in the Kamakura period), the bell weighs 2.7 tons.
More than 1000 people donated funds to create the bell. It is now very fragile, and its use is carefully controlled.

Note the traditional thatched roof on the bell tower (with crown tiles).

In the background is the Suzamon, entrance to the Zen Monastery. Detail is below.

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Kenchoji Bonsho 1022

The Kenchoji Bonsho, one of two bells in Kamakura to be designated as a National Treasure.

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Kenchoji Suzamon 0933

Kenchoji is the oldest Zen training monastery in Japan, as well as the oldest Zen Temple in Japan.
The Zen Monastery training area is entered through this gate, and it is not open to the public.
The monastery includes a Zen-do (meditation hall), Kaisan-do (founder’s hall) and offices.

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Kenchoji 0935

Opposite the Butsuden (far left) are seven juniper trees whose seeds are said to have been brought from China
by the founding priest (Rankei Doryu). They are over 700 years old, and are designated as National Treasures.

Kenchoji_0940


Kenchoji 0940

Butsuden (left) and Hatto (center) housing the Jizo and Senju-Kannon sculptures.


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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Kenchoji Temple is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Kamakura Temples 1
Kotoku-in (Kamakura Daibutsu), Kenchoji

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Kenchoji_Butsuden_Bell_0945


Kenchoji Butsuden Bell 0945

A couple bows in front of the open doors at the side of the Butsuden.

The Butsuden (Buddha Hall) was built between 1624 and 1644 at Zojoji temple
 and was moved to Kenchoji in 1647. The main image is Jizo Bosatsu (shown below).
The Butsuden was originally a mausoleum building belonging to the Tokogawa Shogunate.
It was originally built to house the memorial services for the wife of Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada
(2nd of the Tokugawa Shoguns), and as it was built for a Jodo sect temple it is elaborately decorated.

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Kenchoji Butsuden Bell 0951

Oblique, showing the bell and the Hatto in the background.
At right, a detail crop exposed to better show the bell.

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Kenchoji Butsuden Bell 0948
 

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Kenchoji Butsuden 0993

Exterior detail of the Butsuden (on the opposite side of that which has the bell).

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Kenchoji Butsuden Door 0997

Detail of the door at the far right of the image shown
above, exposed to show detail of the hinges and straps.

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Kenchoji Butsuden Jizo 1005c

A detail crop from the center of the master image
(the full image is shown below). I will provide several
angles and crops of the Kenchoji Butsuden Jizo.

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Kenchoji Butsuden Jizo 1005

Kenchoji’s 14th century wooden Jizo Bosatsu. The statue is 16 feet tall including the pedestal.

Placed here to propitiate the souls of those executed in the valley before the temple was
founded, this Kamakura period Jizo Bosatsu was carved from a single block of wood. The
valley Kenchoji resides in is called “Hell Valley”. It was an execution ground in ancient times,
and in the valley stood a temple called Shinpei-ji. Behind the Butsuden Jizo are numerous other
Jizo statues, including the Shinpei-ji Jizo and Saito Jizo, plus hundreds of cast iron Jizo statuettes.

Note the elaborately-carved hinoki panels behind the Jizo with Hou-ou (phoenix) and flowers.

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Kenchoji Butsuden Jizo 1017c

A detail crop from the master image.

1008 (right) and 1002 (below) show the full image,
with detail of the ceiling and objects surrounding Jizo.

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Kenchoji Butsuden Jizo 1008

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Kenchoji Butsuden Jizo 1002

Inside the Jizo statue is the Saita Jizo, a small statuette that the samurai Saita placed in his hair
before he was to be beheaded on a false charge. The sword hit the statue and prevented the
beheading. He was released immediately and the statue was revered as a guardian deity.

1005, 1008 and 1002 were prepared from the full-sized images, thus the smaller text.


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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Kenchoji Temple is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Kamakura Temples 1
Kotoku-in (Kamakura Daibutsu), Kenchoji

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Kenchoji Hatto Butsuden 0967

The Hatto, with the Butsuden in the background
 (shot from the same side as image 0993 above).

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Kenchoji Hatto 0954

Detail of the front of the Hatto, showing the open
doors displaying the interior (detail shown below).

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Kenchoji Hatto 0965

The Hatto (Lecture Hall or Dharma Hall) was built in 1814, and houses all public ceremonies.
It is the largest wooden Buddhist structure in Eastern Japan. It also holds the Senju-Kannon statue
(thousand-armed Kannon Bosatsu, shown below) which is part of the 33 Kannon Pilgrimage of Kamakura.

The Hatto used to be a Lecture Hall, where priests spoke sermons and discussed doctrine to those in training.
The bell-shaped windows with grids are called Kato-mado, and are usually only seen in Zen Temples.

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Kenchoji Hatto Senju-Kannon 0964

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Kenchoji Hatto Senju-Kannon 0962c

A detail crop from the lower part of the image
shown below (allowing examination of detail).

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Kenchoji Hatto Senju-Kannon 0962

Senju-Kannon (1000 arms and eyes). 42 arms are shown (the palm of each hand has an eye, and each
of the side arms stand for one of the 25 Buddhist worlds). As it is extremely difficult to portray a statue with
1000 arms, generally Senju-Kannon are displayed with 42 arms, two in a mudra, or in this case, with palms
together, and the other 40 arms arrayed on each side of the statue with the hands in different positions.

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Kenchoji Hatto Dragon 0956c

The dragon is a ceiling painting (inverted) by Koizumi Junsaku (created in 2003).

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Kenchoji Hatto Dragon 0962c
Unryu-zu (Cloud Dragon Painting)

”Unryu-zu” was created to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the founding of Kenchoji.
The dragon painting is 10 x 12 meters, and took Koizumi three years to produce.

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Kenchoji Hojo 0977

The main room of the Hojo, which is used for
religious ceremonies, meetings, and the like.
Note the large Taiko (drum) in the left distance.
To the right is the Hojo’s main altar for worship
(a large detail crop of the altar is below).

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Kenchoji Hojo 0979

The Hojo was brought to Kenchoji from Hanju Sanmai-in
temple in Kyoto, and was first used as the chief priest’s
residence. It was originally built in the late Edo period.
The altar (below) houses a statue of Shaka Nyorai
and numerous other objects (see detail below).

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Kenchoji Hojo 0985c

1626 x 700 detail crop of the Hojo Altar.

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Kenchoji Hojo Shinji-Ike 0991

The Zen garden behind the Hojo (also called Ryuoden, or Dragon King Hall).
The pond is called Shinji-Ike (Mind Character Pond), because it is shaped like the Kanji for ”Mind”.
It was designed by the Zen Master Muso Soseki (1275-1351), founder of Zuisenji, a Kamakura Rinzai Zen temple.
Priest Muso was well known for the Zen gardens he designed (e.g. Saihoji (Moss Temple) and Tenryuji in Kyoto).


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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Kenchoji Temple is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Kamakura Temples 1
Kotoku-in (Kamakura Daibutsu), Kenchoji

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