|Denomination||Rinzai, Kenchō-ji school|
|Address||189 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa 247-0062|
Fugenzan Meigetsu-in (福源山明月院?) is a Rinzai Zen temple of the Kenchō-ji school in Kita-Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan. Famous for its hydrangeas, it's also known as The Temple of Hydrangeas (ajisai-dera). The main object of worship is goddess Shō Kannon (聖観音).
Meigetsu-in was built by Uesugi Norikata of the powerful Uesugi clan, and the name itself derives from Norikata's own posthumous name (Meigetsu). According to 350-year-old records it was originally just the guest rooms of a much bigger temple called Zenkō-ji (禅興寺?) which was closed by the government during the Meiji period. Zenkō-ji was a temple of considerable prestige, being one of the Rinzai Zen temples classified as (Kantō Jissetsu (関東十刹?), which were second in importance only to Kamakura's so-called Five Mountains (Kamakura Gozan (鎌倉五山?). Zenkō-ji however didn't survive the anti-Buddhist clampdown (Haibutsu kishaku) that followed the Meiji Restoration. Meigetsu-in is the owner of a famous 13th century statue of Uesugi Shigefusa, founder of the Uesugi clan. He is dressed in the picturesque clothes of the dignitaries of the Kamakura period. The statue is a National Treasure.
Points of interest
- The temple itself with its beautiful round window (see photo above)
- The temple's garden contains one of the celebrated Ten Wells of Kamakura (鎌倉十の井?), the Kame no I (瓶の井)
- The karesansui, a garden of raked sand, rocks and plants representing legendary Buddhist Mount Shumi.
- The yagura cave dug on the side of a hill is the largest in Kamakura. The small tower at its center is thought to be Norikata's tomb
- Hōjō Tokiyori's grave
- The hydrangeas in the garden. The flowers, however famous, are apparently just a recent addition. They were reportedly chosen because of the ease with which they grow.
- Get off at JR Yokosuka Line's Kita-Kamakura Station. Walk about ten minutes towards Kamakura on the left side of the train tracks following the signs. Meigetsu-in is on a side street to your left.
- For an explanation of terms concerning Japanese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhist art, and Japanese Buddhist temple architecture, see the Glossary of Japanese Buddhism.
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- Mutsu, Iso (1995/06). Kamakura. Fact and Legend. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-1968-8. Check date values in:
- Kita Kamakura, Kamakura Citizen Network accessed on March 29, 2008
- 明月院, Japanese Wikipedia accessed on March 29, 2008