Kamakura: a Japanese Zen city

Visit of Kamakura: between samurai and Zen Buddhism

Kamakura is often called "the city of the samurai" because the former political capital of Japan was established and then controlled by warlords for nearly three centuries. But Kamakura also welcomed Rinzai Zen Buddhism very early on and favored its expansion in Japan. It is in this city that we find some of the oldest Zen temples in the country. Discover the close link between Zen and samurai!

The relationship between samurai and Zen


The Hojo regents, masters of Kamakura, were fervent followers of Rinzai Zen.

A "pure" doctrine, less syncretic and less complex than certain other Buddhist doctrines in Japan, its austere practices such as zazen ( sitting meditation) attracted these samurai. The self-discipline, rigor, and self-control practiced by Zen monks were equally essential values for warriors ready to die anytime.



Kenchoji et son jardin zen. Kamakura

Kenchoji and its Zen garden. Kamakura


Jufuku-ji, Kamakura

Jufuku-ji, Kamakura


The Zen temples of Kamakura


Hojo Tokiyori was the first regent to found a Zen temple, Kenchô-ji. Built in 1234, it is the first of the "Five temples of the mountain". In its beginnings, it was directed by a great Chinese master.

Hojo Tokimune, the son of Tokiyori, who succeeded him, erected Engaku-ji in 1282 to pray for the soldiers who died during the Mongol invasion of Kyushu in 1281. It is the second of the "Five Temples of the Mountain" and is also a Chinese monk at its head.

Hojo Tokimune's son, Hojo Munemasa, is said to be the founder of the fourth mountain temple (the third being Jufuku-ji, mentioned above), Jochi-ji. Finally, the last of the "Five Temples of the Mountain", Jomyo-ji, which was first a temple founded by the sect of Shingon Buddhism, later became a Zen temple.




Main Gate of Engaku-ji

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There is something soothing about the view of the bamboo forest from the tea house.

kamakura kanko

Découvrez Kamakura avec un guide

Our activities in Kamakura

  • Duration : 8 hour
  • Location : Kamakura
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