Meigetsu-in Temple Kamakura
- Walking to Meigetsu-in Temple
- Temple of Flowers
- Temple Buildings
- Inner Garden
- Flower Season
- Meigetsu-in Temple Access
- Kamakura Temples & Shrines
- Japan Temples & Shrines
Meigetsu-in Temple, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 明月院 鎌倉 神奈川県
Despite heavy tourist traffic, Yamanouchi still retains its historic charm, especially if you visit at off-peak times, avoiding seasonal weekends and public holidays.
Weathered Stone Staircase with hydrangea, Meigetsu-in Temple, Kamakura
Hydrangea and bamboo contrast in the gardens of Meigetsu-in Temple
Walking to Meigetsu-in Temple
One of the most famous temples in the area is Meigetsu Zen Temple, Meigetsu-in in Japanese. The name translates as Bright Moon Temple. It belongs to the Kenchoji School of Rinzai Zen Buddhism.
The temple is about a 10 minute walk from Kita Kamakura Station, English-language signs point the way.
After walking for a few hundred meters on a pedestrian path parallel to the railway tracks, you turn left and follow the narrow Meigetsugawa River towards the temple.
Small bridges connect the traditional, wealthy estates with their large gardens and high walls on the left of the river with the narrow road.
Legendary Japanese movie director Yasujiro Ozu (1903 - 1963), most famous for his film Tokyo Story (1953), lived quite close to this neighborhood in his later years.
Follow the river and you soon reach the temple gate - a ticket booth in this case. You need to pay admission to enter the temple.
Stone / gravel garden with blooming azalea, Meigetsu-in Temple
Temple of Flowers
Meigetsu-in Temple is most famous for its flower gardens. The main temple area features an abundance of mostly blue hydrangea (ajisai in Japanese), blooming in June and July.
The Weathered Stone Staircase leading up to an inner gate of the temple, flanked by blue hydrangea to the left and right, is the signature image of the Meigetsu-in.
Main Building, Hondo, of Meigetsu-in Temple
Great Hall inside the Main Building of Meigetsu-in
Main Temple Buildings
Walk though that inner gate and you will soon reach the Main Temple Building, the Hondo. In front of the Hondo is a traditional Japanese stone / gravel garden featuring a display of pink azalea in May and June. The Hondo itself features a long tatami-floor hall leading towards a large round window.
There are several smaller historic structures close to the Hondo, including the Founder's Building (Soyu-do), dating back to about 1380, a holy cave with ancient stone statues inside and a historic well.
Close is also the grave of Tokiyori Hojo (1227 - 1263), the fifth regent during the time of the Kamakura Shogunate (1192 - 1333).
Main Building with its characteristic round window seen from the Inner Garden
Meigetsu Temple History
Meigetsu-in Temple was originally founded as a hermitage, a religious retreat, in the late Heian Period (794 - 1192). It soon became part of the much larger Zenkoji Temple and served for many hundred years as a sort of temple guest house / hermitage until Zenkoji Temple was dismantled during the anti-Buddhist campaigns following the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
Meigetsu-in Temple had to find its own identity beyond the enshrined deities and became eventually known, rather recently, as the Temple of Flowers.
Hydrangea and iris in the Inner Garden, Meigetsu-in Temple
Behind the Main Building the temple extends into the Inner Garden. You need to pay an extra fee to enter.
The Inner Garden features a small pond right behind the Hondo, the main temple building.
Walking further you enter a valley with large gardens of blue iris, flanked by blue hydrangea.
June and July, the blooming time for all those blue flowers, is the best season for visiting Meigetsu-in Temple.
The second half of June and the first half of July constitute the rainy season in Japan, but the temple gardens do look beautiful in the rain - especially if there are girls dressed up in kimono and carrying traditional umbrellas navigating the paths through the blue hydrangea.
If the rain gets too heavy, just retreat into the temple's own traditional tea house and relax with a matcha Japanese tea and Japanese sweets.
Founders Hall (Soyu-do) at Meigetsu-in
Opening Times: Daily from 9 am to 4 pm; but in June, from 8.30 am to 5 pm. No closing days.
Temple admission is 300 yen, in June 500 yen.
The Inner Garden is open only during flower blooming season, mainly in June. Admission to the Inner Garden is an additional 500 yen.
Address: Kamakura-shi, Yamanouchi 189
Tel. 0467 24 3437
Ojizo-sama statues dressed in blue, Meigetsu-in Temple, Kamakura
Accommodation in the Tokyo Area
Meigetsu-in Temple in Kamakura is an historic Rinzai Zen temple famous for its colorful hydrangea blossoms which flower in June.