Sunday, September 30, 2012

The main temple complex at Kenchoji (Photo-essay)

If I did things strictly chronologically, I'd put up this blog post before yesterday's which highlighted the tengu statues found on the way to Kenchoji temple's Hansobo shrine (rather than the other way around).  In any event, I think it will be interesting for people to view the two blog entries one after the other -- to see how the Hansobo shrine section that's located several minutes walk away on higher ground than the main Zen Buddhist temple complex visually differs from the part of Kenchoji that most visitors will be most -- and maybe even solely -- familiar with.

For the record: even without taking into account the part of my visit that took in the Hansobo shrine and the Shojoken Observatory (deck) located a few flights of stairs up from the shrine, Kenchoji was indeed the Kamakura attraction that I spent the most amount of time at on my second visit to that very attractive coastal town in Kanagawa Prefecture.  

One reason was because the complex (which includes about 10 sub-temples -- down from 49 sub-temples at its historical peak) was the largest of the four religious establishments I went to that day in Kamakura -- yes, bigger even than the more centrally located and well known Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine, never mind the east Kamakura temples of Hokokuji and Sugimoto-dera.  Another was that there really was so much that was interesting to see in the areas that were open to the public -- and so much so that I ended up not feeling aggrieved by much at all that there also does seem to be significant swathes of Kenchoji's grounds that are not are off limits to (secular) visitors to the temple...

  A photo that gives people some idea of the details that exist
on Kenchoji's structures -- in this case, the entrance area's roof 
whose decorations include the Hojo clan's triangular crest and 
what looks to me like a peach shaped longevity bun sculptures! 

Kenchoji's Somon (General Gate) used to stand in Kyoto
but was brought to Kamakura in 1943

The temple's Sanmon (Main Gate) is an impressive
30 meters high and was strong enough to survive

The central path leading from the Sanmon to the Butsuden (Buddha Hall) 
is lined by juniper trees that are over 750 years old and planted 
by the temple's founder, Lanxi Daolong (AKA Rankei Doryu)

Inside the Butsuden is this large sculpture of 
282 miniature figures of the same religious figure

Inside the Hatto (Dharma or Lecture Hall) located behind
-- and on the same axis as -- the Butsuden are such as
a fasting Buddha statue from Pakistan, a Senju Kannon statue
behind it and ceiling painting of a dragon above them

The Karamon (Chinese Gate) that was (is?) used 
exclusively by imperial court envoys visiting the temple

A sun-lit view from the Shojoken Observatory of Kenchoji's 
main temple complex nestled in the valley below and 
the surrounding greenery (and yes, it gives a good idea of 
how far away the Hansobo shrine area is from the main area!)

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