Exploring Kamakura: Kotokuin Temple and Other Places

Just less than an hour away from Tokyo, the coastal town of Kamakura can be located in the Kanagawa Prefecture. Given its abundance of historical monuments, temples, and shrines, it has be known as Eastern Japan’s very own miniature Kyoto.

Among the countless tourist attractions Kamakura has in store for tourists looking for better understanding the religiosity of the Japanese community, the Kotokuin Temple and its Great Buddha stand as the most popular ones.

Exploring Kotokuin Temple – Daibutsu (Great Buddha of Kamakura), Nio-mon Gate, Etc.

The Kotokuin Temple belongs to the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism. Its growing popularity as a tourist attraction is due to the impressive bronze Amida Buddha statue it houses. This statue has become an iconic landmark of Japan and is better known as the Daibutsu or the Great Buddha.

The Daibutsu weighs a total of 121 tonnes and is measured at 13.35 meters in height. The length of its face measures 2.35 meters, its eye at 1.0 meters, its mouth at 0.82 meters, its ear at 1.9 meters, and from knee to knee at 9.10 meters.

Aside from these stunning structure, tourists can also expect to see other interesting artifacts and building within the property including the Nio-mon Gate, the Kangetsu-do Hall, and the Bronze Lotus Petals.

Map & Access to Kotokuin Temple

By Yamaguchi Yoshiaki [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

To access the Kotokuin Temple, tourists need to first make their way to Kamakura. Various routes may be taken to the town, the most convenient ones being the JR Yokosuka Line, JR Shonan Shinjuku Line, and the Odakyu Railways.

Tourists can then easily access the Kotokuin Temple by simply taking a 5 to 10-minute walk away from the Hase Station of the Enoden Bus Railway Line, which is basically a streetcar-like train system that goes through Kamakura, Fujisawa, and Enoshima.

The terminal station of the Enoden can be found right next to the Kamakura Station.

More Information on Kotokuin Temple – Hours, Fees, Proper Behavior/Actions to Observe, Etc.

By Σ64 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

The Kotokuin Temple is open to the public from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM during April – September, while from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM during October – March. Visitors are required to pay an admission fee of 300 yen per person to be able to enter and explore all of its sections.

Those who want a closer look at the interiors of the Great Buddha may do so from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM for an additional fee of 20 yen per person.

Given that the Kotokuin Temple is a sacred place, tourists should make it a point to be on their best behavior and take note of the following actions/manners to observe:

  • Eating or drinking in front of the Daibutsu or near its pedestal is discouraged.

  • Pets can only be brought into the property if they are kept in a carrier or pet cage. Service dogs are exempted.

  • The entire temple grounds is a non-smoking zone.

  • Photographs for commercial use can only be taken after acquiring the approval of the temple.

  • Making use of drones is discouraged at the Kotokuin Temple grounds.

  • Making use of selfie sticks while exploring the statue interiors is discouraged.

Address: 4-2-28, Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 248-0016

Other Tourists Attractions near Kotokuin Temple

As previously mentioned, the town of Kamakura has many temples, shrines, and monuments for tourists to explore. Before or after taking a trip to the Kotokuin Temple, it is highly recommended that the following guide to nearby places also be taken into consideration when forming one’s travel map itinerary:


By Dirk Beyer [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons

Hasedera, also known as Hase Temple, belongs to the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism. It is known for housing an impressive 9.18-meter tall, eleven-headed wooden Kannon statue of the goddess of mercy.

According to records, the statue is among Japan’s largest wooden sculptures and is believed to have been made from the same tree that was used for the equally impressive Kannon statue of the Nara Prefecture’s own Hasedera Temple.

The Hase Temple features many other points of interests including the Kannon Museum, the Amidado Hall, the Jizodo Hall, and a lovely garden surrounded by ponds.

Given its location along the slopes of a wooded hill, visitors need to make their way through various walking paths and stairs to reach the actual temple. Fortunately, the trails offer tourists with a lot of pleasant nature views that make the effort absolutely worth it.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM, daily (March – September); 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily (October – February)

Admission Fee: 300 yen per person

Address: 3-11-2 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 248-0016

Zeniarai Benten Shrine

Zeniarai Benten Shrine is among the most popular shrines of the Kamakura region. Its name comes from the Japanese term “zeniarai” which roughly translates to mean “washing of the coin” in English. As such, a lot of visitors come to the shrine to wash their money in the spring of the shrine, as a way of wishing for prosperity.

The construction of the shrine was commissioned by Minamoto Yoritomo, the one who founded the Kamakura Government. His reason for having the shrine built was to bring peace to Japan, as instructed to him by a god that appeared to him during a dream.

Given that he had this dream on what was known as the day of the snake, Minamoto Yoritomo decided to dedicate the shrine to Benten, the goddess of snakes in Japanese Buddhism.

In line with that, the Zeniarai Benten Shrine is among the few remaining structures that observe a mix of Buddhist and Shinto beliefs.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM, daily

Admission Fee: No admission fee

Address: 2-25-16 Sasuke, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 248-0017

Jufukuji Temple

The Jufukuji Temple is among the five great temples of Zen Buddhism in Kamakura, Japan. It belongs to the Kenchoji School of the Rinzai Sect and was commissioned by Masako, the wife of Minamoto Yoritomo, after the death of her husband.

It is one of the most important Zen temples in Japan because its founding priest was none other than Eisai, the one who introduced Japan to the teachings of Zen Buddhism.

Unfortunately, the Jufukuji Temple may not be explored by the public. Nonetheless, its entrance gate and pathway make for a great photograph.

Hours: N/A

Admission Fee: N/A

Address: 1-17-7 Ogigayatsu, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 248-0011

Myohonji Temple

The Myohonji Temple, or simply Myohonji, is among the relatively few temples that belong to the Japanese Buddhism’s Nichiren sect. It can be found in the Southeastern part of Kamakura, particularly along the region’s wooded hills.

Through the Gionyama hiking trail, tourists can make their way to other nearby shrines and temples from the Myohonji Temple grounds. It should be noted that proper footwear should be worn when exploring the area, as some areas of the trail can get quite steep and rough to tackle.

As such, tourists are also advised to not take a trip to the hills during rainy days to avoid accidents.

Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily

Admission Fee: No admission fee

Address: 1-15-1 Omachi, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 248-0007

Ankokuronji Temple

The Ankokuronji Temple is another temple that belongs to the Nichiren sect of Japanese Buddhism. Similar to the Myohonji temple, it is situated on the southeastern hills of Kamakura and features a short hiking route for visitors to explore.

The same precautions regarding proper footwear and avoiding the wooded hills on rainy days should be observed for those planning to visit the Ankokuronji Temple.

Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, daily; Closed on Mondays

Admission Fee: 100 yen per person

Address: 4-4-18 Omachi, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 248-0007

Kenchoji Temple

The Kenchoji Temple is Kamakura’s oldest Zen temple and is regarded to be number one of the region’s five great Zen temples. It was established by Hojo Tokiyori, the ruling regent during the Kencho Era, while its founding priest was Rankei Doryu, a Chinese priest.

At present, the Kenchoji Temple is significantly smaller in size compared to its original design. Nonetheless, the temple grounds still house several impressive buildings and sub-temples, all of which are scattered throughout the property starting from the entrance to the forested hills out back.

Some notable points of interest housed by the Kenchoji Temple include the Sanmon Gate, the Bonsho (Temple Bell), the Butsuden, the Hatto, the Hojo, and a Zen garden designed by Muso Kokushi, a master of Zen Buddhism.

Those looking to explore other parts of the area are advised to check out the stairways and paths located a few meters beyond the boundaries of the Kenchoji Temple. These trails lead to different structures, one being the Hansobo, a shrine that was built to protect the Kenchoji Temple.

Further up the trails, visitors can also find several observation decks that offer breathtaking views of the Kamakura city and its gorgeous hills.

Hours: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM, daily

Admission Fee: 300 yen per person

Address: 8 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 247-0062

Meigetsuin Temple

The Meigetsuin Temple belongs to the Rinzai sect of Japanese Zen Buddhism. It also goes by the name Ajisaidera, which roughly translates to mean “the temple of hydrangeas” in English, for the many hydrangeas it houses. These flowers typically bloom during the month of June and come in soft shades of blue.

Other things to look forward to at the Meigetsuin Temple include its inner garden filled with irises, the Soyudo (founder’s hall), and the Yagura Cave.

Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, daily; 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, daily (June)

Admission Fee: 300 yen per person; 500 yen per person (June); 500 yen per person (Additional fee for access to the inner garden)

Address: 189 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 247-0062

Engakuji Temple

The Engakuji Temple is among Eastern Japan’s most important Zen Temples. It was built during the year 1282 by the order of Hoji Tokimune, the then ruling regent. The temple was constructed a year after the second Mongol invasion as a way of paying the fallen Japanese and foreign soldiers proper respect.

Tourists can find the Engakuji Temple at the forested hills of Kita-Kamakura. Things to expect at the temple grounds include a Sanmon Gate that dates back to the year 1783, the Butsuden, a wooden Shaka Buddha statue, the Shariden, and a charming teahouse where tourists can take some time to sip a cup of tea and simply enjoy being surrounded by nature.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM, daily (March – November); 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM, daily (December – February)

Admission Fee: 300 yen per person

Address: 409 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 247-0062

Jochiji Temple

The Jochiji Temple is the fourth of the five great Zen temples of Kamakura. It belongs to the Rinzai sect’s Engakuji school and is located just a few minutes away from the Engakuji Temple, its head temple.

Compared to the other temples of Kamakura, the Jochiji Temple features a significantly smaller area and a calmer ambiance.

A few meters behind the main hall of the temple, tourists can find a circular road that goes through some caves, a graveyard, and the garden of the Jochiji Temple. The Daibutsu Hiking Trail can also be located right next to the Jochiji Temple which tourists may take to start their 1-hour long walk towards the Great Buddha.

Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM, daily

Admission Fee: 200 yen per person

Address: 1402 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 247-0062

Tokeiji Temple

The Tokeiji Temple is among the smaller branch temples of the Rinzai sect’s Engakuji school. Similar to the Jochiji Temple, it is located just a few hundred meters away from the Engakuji Temple, its head temple.

This temple was built during the year 1285 after the death of Hojo Tokimune. His wide ordered that his early passing be properly honored through the establishment of the Tokeiji Temple.

Interestingly, the temple initially served as a haven for abused women who feared their husbands and wanted a divorce. Official divorces could previously be granted by the Tokeiji Temple, so long as the one requesting for it would stay within the property for a period of three years.

Hours: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, daily (March – October); 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM, daily (November – February)

Admission Fee: 200 yen per person

Address: 1367 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan 247-0062

Hotels near Kotokuin Temple, Kamakura, Japan

As with any trip, choosing to rent out a room for the night is always a good idea for a less hectic tour of the place and an overall relaxing experience. Fortunately, the town of Kamakura houses its own set of hotel and ryokan options.

Some of the most popular places to take note of include the Zen Vague, the Guesthouse Kamakura Rakuan, the Ushio Guesthouse, the IZA Kamakura Guest House and Bar, the Inn by the Sea Kamakura, and the WeBase Hostel Kamakura.