Jōchi-ji - The Main Hall
|Denomination||Rinzai, Engaku-ji branch|
|Founded||1281 - 1283|
|Founder(s)||Hōjō Munemasa, Hōjō Morotoki|
|Address||1402 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa 247-0062|
Kinpōzan Jōchi-ji (金宝山浄智寺?) is a Buddhist Zen temple in Kita-Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It belongs to the Engaku-ji school of the Rinzai sect and is ranked fourth among Kamakura's Five Mountains. The main objects of worship are the three statues of Shaka, Miroku and Amida Nyorai visible inside the main hall.
Officially, the temple was founded in 1283 by Hōjō Munemasa (1253–1281) (son of the fifth Shikken Hōjō Tokiyori) and his son Hōjō Morotoki (1275–1311). However, because the temple opened the year Munemasa died at just 29 and because of Morotoki's age at the time, it's likely that his wife and Munemasa's younger brother Hōjō Tokimune (1251–1284) had a hand in directing its building and its opening.
Priest Nanshu Kōkai (a.k.a. Shin’o Zenji) was invited to open the temple but, feeling too young and not up to the task, he asked the Hōjōs to nominate also Gottan Funei and Daikyu Shonen, both Chinese Zen masters that had come to Japan invited by Hōjō Tokiyori. The temple has therefore the distinction of having three official founding priests.
Points of interest
In her 1918 guide to Kamakura "Kamakura: Fact and Legend", Iso Mutsu had little to say about Jōchi-ji, other than it was in complete decay. She dedicated to it just a half page. In fact, all you see today is new.
At its peak, the temple was far bigger than now; it comprised 11 buildings and 500 people lived in it, but little is left of the original great temple that was one of Kamakura's Five Mountains. All existing buildings were rebuilt after being lost during the Great Kanto Earthquake.
At the entrance there are a pond, a stone bridge and a gate. To the left there's also the Well of Sweet Dew ((甘露ノ井 Kanro no I)?), one of the once-famous Ten Kamakura Wells ((鎌倉十井 Kamakura Jussei)?). Above the gate stand the four characters 寶所在近 (Hōsho Zaikin?), or "The treasure you are looking for is next to you".
After a flight of stone stairs one finds a very unusual feature: the Shōrōmon (鐘楼門), that is a two-storied combination of shōrō (bellfry) and rōmon (gate) restored in 2007. The second story holds a bell made in the year 1340.
In the main hall nearby are three images of Buddha (the already-mentioned Amida, Shaka, and Miroku), the main object of worship, which guard respectively the past, the present and the future.
Behind the main hall are the graveyard, some bamboo groves, numerous cave graves ( the so-called yagura), and the statue of Hotei, the god of good fortune or happiness. After having been touched by generations of Japanese wishing to improve their luck, his belly, his left earlobe and his index finger have been worn smooth.
The street that runs to the left of the front gate takes to the house behind the temple where movie director Yasujiro Ozu used to live in the '50. It's also the starting point of a hiking course that in about 30 minutes will take you to the Zeniarai Benten Shrine.
Getting there: The temple is very near Kita-Kamakura Station.
- For an explanation of terms concerning Japanese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhist art, and Japanese Buddhist temple architecture, see the Glossary of Japanese Buddhism.
- A Guide to Kamakura accessed on March 28, 2008
- Kamakura Citizens Net, Kita-kamakura accessed on March 28, 2008
- Mutsu, Iso (1995/06). Kamakura. Fact and Legend. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-1968-8. OCLC 33184655.
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