A “refuge temple” for women who were suffering
Kakusan-ni, the wife of the 8th shogun regent in the Kamakura Era, Tokimune Hojo, established the temple in 1285. The second-ranked institution in a network of five nunneries known as Amagozan, an Emperor’s daughter, a female member of the Toyotomi family and other noblewomen worked as chief priestesses at the temple. Kakusan-ni ran the temple under a divorce law through which if women suffering from spousal abuse remain at the temple for 3 years, then the marriage could be nullified. Since there were many instances in which women would seek refuge from their husbands by entering the temple, Tokei-ji was referred to as the “refuge temple” or the “divorce temple”. Countless numbers of women were saved for 500 years up to 1872 through this women’s claim to divorce. When the temple ended this role, male monks took over and spread the word of Zen as a Zen temple.
Many highlights such as an exhibit room, a teahouse and a garden
Within the temple, there is the Matsugaoka Treasury which displays the valuable assets of the temple. You can learn a variety of knowledge about the divorce temple through its history and exhibits such as the Mikudarihan, a divorce letter. From February to March every year, the customary Tokei-ji Buddhist Statue Exhibition is held. During this period, you can view without making any reservations the statue of the Suigetsu Kannon, known for its feminine beauty; usually reservations would be needed at other times of the year. Tokei-ji is known as a temple of flowers, and a variety of flowers bloom throughout the year. Especially during June when irises and conandron bloom, the teahouse Byakuren-sha is open where special seating is provided for guests who cannot normally sit in the formal seiza style during the tea ceremony. You can enjoy the flowers at leisure.