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Showing posts from January, 2018

How to Properly Enjoy Kamakura Part 18: Ennoji Temple 円応寺

Before reading this post have a look at this 4-minute video first.   It's in Japanese, but you can sort of get the gist of what it is.   This is the King of Hell and is the chief diety at Ennoji Temple in Kamakura, Japan. ( fast forward a bit to see the performance).


After enjoying that short snippet, have a look at this next one.  It's only 2 minutes long.  The reason for the second video is to show the origin of the Emma.


Getting to this temple would be alot easier if there were more signage along the main road.  After leaving Kennchoji Temple, you head towards Kamakura, so,as you are walking, Kita-Kamakura should be directly behind you and you are heading towards the central Kamakura side.   This temple will be on your right hand side and up a flight of stairs.  Ennoji was built 767 years ago and retains many of its original wood decor.  



As a forewarning, this temple has a strict "no photography" policy that they enforce, so no pictures...There are tourist that do s…

How to Properly Enjoy Kamakura Part 17: Hokaiji Temple 宝戒寺

Hokaiji Temple belongs to the Tendai school of Buddhism.   Among the various schools of Buddhism in Japan, Tendai is the largest and most widely accepted in Japan.   Here is a video snippet on Tendai school you may want to watch first for some context:



From Kamakura Station its about a 20 minute walk - comfortable stoll.  Along the way you'll pass several shops and cafe.


After reaching the temple you'll know you're there by looking at this picture.


This is leading up to the main gate.   The temple itself was founded by Emperor Godaigo making it venerated and holy for the purpose repose of the deceased Hojos.   A Hojo is a top general back then and these grounds are where many had died by ritual suicide.   The whole city is shrouded in death, actually.  Thousands of souls in limbo here.   At any rate, let me continue.







So why do you need to visit here?
For one, it's to give you a sense of the times.   In primary school when we learn about Japan we are taught about the anci…

How to Properly Enjoy Kamakura Part 16: Zuisenji Temple 瑞泉寺

Ok. We are back at another Rinzai School, and just for review, watch the video on Rinzai again:


Zuisenji will be the farthest temple you'll have to hike to from Kamakura Station; with mild inclines at first.  After passing through the main gates you'll have steep stone stairways to climb.   I recommend after leaving Kamakura Gu Shrine heading up to Zuisenji second, as they are both along the same street and there's a restroom at this shrine.    On the way up to Zuisenji Temple you won't see any restrooms and vending machines unless something changed last time I went up there.

Theme music here:




This is regarded as the "flower lovers" temple by the locals, so you can expect to see a lot of photographers and nature lovers snapping pictures and snacking on Japanese sweets while sipping on expensive green teas at the top of this hillside temple called,  Zuisenji.   Even the name evokes a peaceful mood which is suitable for ascetics practicing monks.


After passing…

How to Properly Enjoy Kamakura Part 15: Myohoji Temple 妙法寺

Why visit this temple:

1) You have a deep interest in Nichiren Buddhism
2) You love beautiful vistas from atop low hilly areas.
3) You love wood art under temple trellises.
4) You love stone pathways wound around beautiful gardens.
5) You love moss carpet stairways leading up to stone tombs.

Here's a quick 60-second intro to Nichiren Buddhism:





Myohoji Temple, not to be confused with Myohonji Temple, is the most famous of the moss garden temples in the world.    The layout is ensconced within a low mountainous valley deep in a crevice out of plane sight.


Before you pay your entrance fee, it is good to understand that this temple served as a hermitage for the great Buddhist teacher Nichiren when he was alive, not dead.    This is the temple where he taught the concepts of the Lotus Sutra.


Moreover, when I say hermitage or reference anything about Myohoji Temple, above all other things this period in his life was one of great persecution.    In fact this very temple is where he came …

AMERICANS LOVE PAIRING SAKE WITH SUSHI, BUT IT IS A BIG MISTAKE

This article is a piece on Japanese sake written by:
Courtney Schiessl[ Bracket response is from [me]a.k.a. thesoulofjapan]
Courtney Schiessl is a Brooklyn-based sommelier, wine writer, and consultant. She has held positions at some of New York's top restaurants, including Marta, Dirty French, and Terroir, and her writing has appeared in Drink Me Magazine, The Daily Meal, and ABC News online, among other publications. She is most likely to be seen dreaming of her next international adventure over a glass of bubbly.
AMERICANS LOVE PAIRING SAKE WITH SUSHI, BUT IT’S A BIG MISTAKE Courtney Schiessl@takeittocourt



Sake is having a moment in the U.S. We are currently Japan’s largest export market for its traditional rice beverage, sipping nearly 5,000 kiloliters per year. Small wine shops sell unfiltered nigori sake alongside hipster varietal wines. Restaurants like Oberlin in Providence, R.I., Catbird Seat in Nashville, and Banyan in Boston, pair sake by the glass with everything from taco…

How to Properly Enjoy Kamakura Part 14: Kenchoji Temple 建長寺

Why visit here?

1) The largest temple nearest Kita-Kamakura Station, so if you have a little time then visit Kenchoji.
2) You want to visit the First among Kamakura's Five Great Zen Temples and the head temple of the Rinzai Sect of Buddhism.
3) You have an interest in Buddhism and Zen.
4) You love wooded and venerated statuettes.
5) One of the most important training grounds for Zen monks.


Let's first start with a quote from Master Rinzai who said: "If you know fundamentally that there is nothing to seek you have settled your affairs. But because you have little faith you run about agitatedly seeking your head which you think you have lost. You cannot stop yourself".

Being in the right mind set and understanding a little about the teachings of Rinzai and Zen can you have an even greater appreciation for Kenchoji Temple.


When I enter Kenchoji from the tourist perspective I am impressed by massive wooden structures.



This temple is 1 Kilometer south of Kita-Kamakura Stat…