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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 through these modest gates you continue onward up to the window to pay your entrance fee.  300 yen ( subject to change) and remember to request English brochures.

The most prominent growth here are the maple trees, plum blossoms, and Daffodils, and of course thick green foliage.   After passing through the gate and paying admissions, these  steps will lead you to the temple, high into this hilly plane.    The steps are wide gapped by design to evoke meditation through long slow steps.   As we continue upwards, it is a good idea to understand what a Zen Garden is:

As with all temples in Japan, they were built for the nobility and wealthy, and Zuisenji was no exception.  The Kamakura Kubo resided here and had invited well-known Zen masters from afar to help design the rock gardens and shrubs behind the main hall.   One such man was Muso Soseki.

Both stairways lead to the same end point at the top which in a way is very Zen in itself.   I love the moss green one.  So Nichiren...

Muso Soseki came from nobility, descendent  of Emperor Uda.   At a very early age due to the loss of his mother was sent off to temple(s) where he received guidance, like many other greats before and after him.   But among the greats, Muso was by far the greatest of his time.  Most likely during the Muromachi Period.  ( 1336 to 1573 )   His true claim to fame was establishing the Gozan of Five Mountain Buddhist system in Japan - a system imported from China,  and The Saihoji Temple in Kyoto.    Today, all of his works are recreations, as most if not all of his legacy was destroyed during the Onin Wars.    Muso, like many other great priest, were only loyal to the dominant power(s) in the land, never loyal to the losing faction.   No recordings of him serving the needs of the poor of which there were many in Kamakura back then.    His was the beauty of the after-life.

Main Hall

Now, welcome to the mind of Muso Soseki:

Water was hand carried in 

Meditation Cave

When summer comes around the front of the temple will be full of flowers and green foliage, in autumn you get the maples in the back.

For good time management, I recommend bringing your lunch up here with you.   Near the front of the main hall next to the bell there are a several benches to sit and enjoy a light lunch.

There are so many other aspects of the temple that I will leave the rest up to you to discover.   This post gives you only a small sample recommendation of one of the best mountain  Zen Temples in the world.


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