The wonderful beauty of the placement of the temple buildings born from the topography
The construction of Engaku-ji began in 1278 during the Kamakura Era which was under the authority of the warrior class.
At the time, the most powerful man in the nation, Tokimune Hojo, invited the Chinese monk Sogen Mugaku to establish Engaku-ji.
The origins of the temple lay in the desire to spread Zen Buddhism to the world and also to mourn for those who had died protecting the nation during the Mongol invasions. It was here that not only the Japanese soldiers who had sacrificed themselves but also the Mongol warriors who had died were mourned. Once past the Sanmon main gate which was built to make use of the small valley topography, you will face the Ohojo guest house and the Butsu-den main hall where the principal image of Buddha is enshrined as the slope gently rises. The beauty of the placement of the buildings is splendid and you can feel the breadth of the magnificent space.
Zen Buddhism was greatly supported during the Kamakura Era, and it is evident that the size of Engaku-ji reflected the size of Hojo’s largesse. Within the wide temple grounds, there are many buildings of great historic value such as a seminary for practicing monks, a similar Zen facility for laymen, and the National Treasures of Shari-den Hall and the Great Bell. The culture and art during the era was beloved for their realistic simplicity and fortitude reflective of warrior culture, so it is hoped that you will fully appreciate the texture of the simple yet beautiful construction of this old temple that retains the scent of Japan’s Middle Ages.
The cherry blossoms during spring are beautiful, but the maple leaves of late autumn add lovely color to the old temple, creating an even more wonderful layer of beauty.
Access is also convenient due to its proximity to Kita-Kamakura Station. The size of Engaku-ji means that time to tour the area is necessary, but it is something to look forward to have that leisurely trip to encounter the buildings and culture of Middle Ages Japan.