Kencho-ji is the oldest among Kamakura's five great Zen temples. It was founded by the regent Hojo Tokiyori in 1253 during the Kencho Era, where it has derived its name.
Kenchoji still consists of temple buildings and subtemples within its vast temple grounds. Inside the first temple hall or Butsuden (Buddha Hall), Jizo Bodhisattva was displayed. Behind the Butsuden is the location of the Dharma Hall (Hatto), the largest wooden temple building in eastern Japan, which houses a statue of Kannon and has a dragon painted on its ceiling.
There's also a garden behind the Hojo (main hall) designed by Zen master Muso Kokushi.
Following the path and stairways uphill behind Kenchoji's main grounds, visitors will arrive at Hansobo, a shrine for the protection of Kenchoji. There is a small observation deck in the Hansobo, which gives a view of Mt. Fuji when sky is clear.
Climbing further, there is a second observation deck that gives a great view of Kamakura's horizon, and leads to Zuisenji Temple, which is one hour walk away.
Kencho-ji is 15-20 minute on foot from Kita-Kamakura Station on JR Yokosuka Line.
The temple is open daily from 8:30 to 16:30. Entrance fee costs 300 yen.
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