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Engaku-ji Temple / Kamakura Kanagawa

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[Zuirokusan Engaku-ji Temple]

Engaku-ji Temple was founded in 1282.

Hojo Tokimune invited Zen Master, Mugaku Sogen to found Engaku-ji and honor the spirits of those who died on both sides of the Battles against Mongolia.

Engaku-ji Tmple is a representative of ancient city of Kamakura, preserving buildings designated as cultural properties, including the National Treasures, Shariden and Ogane(Grand Bell), and is loved by the world as a Zen temple to this day.

Engaku-ji Temple is also the heart of the Zen culture of Kanto region, opening the door for men and women of all ages who embrace Buddhism through various Zen Meetings, Sermon Meetings, and Summer Course.

It has produced many great people.

May Engaku-ji Temple be loved by many as their “Temple of Spirit.”


[Mugan Sogen(Bukko Kokushi)]

Zen Master Mugan Sogen(1226-1286) was born inChina, and committed himself to the ascetic practices to become a priest at the age of twelve.

Invited by Hojo Tokimune, who had always embraced Zen, Mugaku Sogen arrived in Japan in the midst of the battles against Mongolia and was initially the abbot of Kencho-ji.


[The Temple of Spirit]

Engaku-ji Temple endured several major fires as well as periods of decline.

Priest Seisetsu in the end of the Edo Era reconstructed the monastery to consolidate the foundation into Engakuji’s present form.

In the Meiji Era, many unsui(zen novices) and koji(lay trainees) came to practice Zen meditation under the direction of Imakita Kosen and Shaku Soen, making Engaku-ji Temple the center of Zen gatherings in the Kanto area.

Today, with its Zen meditation halls, variety of Zen meditation sessions, and summer courses, this temple is loved by many and is thus known as “The Temple of Spirit.”


[Shariden(National Treasure)]

The Shariden is a sacred hall that holds a tooth of the Buddha offered to Minamoto no Sanetomo by Nonin-ji of China.

Constructed in the Kara style introduced from China in the amakura Era, the beauty of this building’s architecture has led it to be designated as a National Treasure.



Butsuden is the building where the Engaku-ji’s principal image of Buddha is enshrined.

It was ruined during the Great Kanto Earthquake but was rebuilt in 1964.

The principal image of Buddha is called Hokan SHka Nyorai or Rushanabutsu(Vairocana Buddha) of Kegon.

It was placed when Butsuden was founded in 1282, but Butsuden was burnt down in 1563, leaving only its face to be saved.

The damaged body parts were restored when Butsuden was rebuilt in 1625.

This is when Bonten(Brahma) and Taishakuten(Indra) were enshrined on both sides of the principal image.

The framed calligraphy was a gift from Emperor Gokogon in 1378.

Annual functions and Early Morning Zen Meditation are held here.



Dedicated to Engaku-ji’s patron Hoji Tokimune,the Kaikibyo or Patron’s Mausoleum we see today is said to have been rebuilt in the 8th year of the Edo-Bunka Era(1811).



The Sanmon or Main Gate was rebuilt in the 5th year of the Tenmei Era(1785), when Zen Master Seisetsu Shucho, known as Daiyu Kokushi, reconstructed Engaku-ji Temple.

The framed calligraphy reading “Engaku Kosho Zenji” was written by the retired Emperor Fushimi.

Statues of the Eleven-Faced Kannono(Bodhisattva) and the Sixteen Lakans (Saints) are on the upper floor.



This is a hermitage honoring the grave of the founder and Zen Master,Mugaku Sogen(Bukko Kokushi).

It was built in the 5th year of the Koan Era, at the invitation of Hojo Tokimune.

Today, it is a Zen training hall for novices.



This is a Zen meditation hall for Koji, or lay trainees of Zen.

Here, Zen meditation sessions are held for a wide range of the general public.



Originally, the Hojo or Abbot’s Quarters, was a lounge for the abbot of Engaku-ji Temple but is now used for numerous functions, such as religious rituals, Zen meditation sessions, sermons, the Summer Lecture Series, and the Autumn Treasure Exhibition.


[Ogane(National Treasure)]

The Ogane or Grand Bell was cast by Hojo Sadatoki in the 3rd year of the Shoan Era(1301),after he confined himself in Enoshima’s Benzaiten, a shrine dedicated to the goddess of wealth and wisdom, to pray for world peace and welfare of all the people.



This is dedicated to Enoshima’s Benzaiten.

Every 60 years, a grand ceremony is held between this temple and Enoshima’s Benzaiten.



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