Friday, January 6, 2017

Kencho-ji, Kamakura, Kanagawa

C. was our neighbor back when hubby was in still grad school in 2006. A couple of years later, we cheered her on when she met A. who's several years her junior. Fast forward to this past July, they finally got married and, guess what, decided to spend a 3-weeks honeymoon in Japan ^.^

A. already had an affinity with Japan. When he was younger he had spent a few weeks traveling through the country, loved the experience, and has been waiting for an opportunity to share everything he saw with the love of his life.

Just so happened that hubby and I were also in Tokyo at the time. After so many years of keeping in touch via FB, texts, emails, Skype, FaceTime, etc., we all were thrilled to finally hangout in person, and in Japan to top it all of!

Given this was their honeymoon, we stayed on the sideline as much as possible to give them space. They were totally independent as far as travelers go, having already done their research with a list of places they want to see, things they want to do, etc.

When they were in Tokyo, we had lunch and dinner together. Then we met them one weekend in Kamakura, another at an onsen ryokan in Takayama, Gifu, then a third in Kyoto. They were adamant that we accompany them only to places we haven't been ourselves. So all told I must have taken thousands of photos of all the places the four of us went together, precisely because these were new places for me and hubby also.

One of those new places was Kencho-ji, the first of Kamakura's Five Great Zen Temples within the system of the Kamakura Gozan.

Being early August, it was bloody hot, but at least the sun was out and the sky was clear. Behind the hojo (方丈, the head monk's living quarter) is a large zen garden with a pond named Shinji Ike (心字池).

Interior of one of the two buildings that make up the hojo, looks like a meditation/prayer hall.

More of the hojo and the zen garden.

Front view of the hojo.

Interior of the Hattō (法堂, Dharma Hall), built 1814, with the dragon painted on the ceiling. Also, look closer at the statue in the two photos below and you'll see that it's actually of an emaciated, almost skeletonized Buddha, the first I've seen, though I'm also totally ignorant when it comes to Buddhism so may be it's not as uncommon as I think.

I think this is the Butsuden (仏殿, Buddha hall), originally at Zojo-ji in Tokyo but was moved here in 1647. I really have to wonder how that works as it seems to have happened rather frequently. If you read the wiki page for this temple, you'll see that many of its structures were moved here from as far as Kyoto! How on earth did they pick up a building and "move" it back then? The only way I could think of is that they must have disassembled the whole thing down to each roof tile, transported all the parts, then put the structure back together like a puzzle at the new location. Of course, the question I wonder next is, umm, why?

They'd left the Butsuden alone, and I really appreciated seeing the original interior as it was built prior to 1647.

Looking back at the sanmon (三門, main gate) here, built 1754. The sun was over our heads and it was so bright I couldn't take a closer photo without the whole thing turning black.

The bonsho (temple bell), cast 1255!

Of course we went to a couple of other well-known attractions too, like Kotoku-in, etc. How could you not? It's Kamakura!

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