NII Participants in Shonan Village Center Visit Zen Temples and a Shrine in Kamakura

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Date & Time: Wednesday, August 1, 1:30 −5:20 p.m.
Spots: Engakuji Temple, Kenchoji Temple and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Participants: 25 participants at the NII (National Institute of Informatics) computer science international conference (from Europe, North America, South Korea, India, Chile, and China)
Attendants: 2 KSGG members
Language: English

As it was an excessively hot day, we moved from one place to another staying in the shade or inside buildings and travelled by bus. As a result, we took in a couple of Zen temples. Our bus started from Shonan Village Center at half past one. In the bus on our way to Engakuji Temple, all participants listened with great interests to the KSGG member ’s detailed explanations about the history of Kamakura and Japan, and the Zen sect of Buddhism.

At Engakuji Temple, we first had our picture taken in front of Sanmon*1. After that, we looked at Butsuden*2, Karamon*3, Ho-jo*4 and Shariden*5 and so on. We then moved to Kenchoji Temple and explored the buildings and the garden in the same manner as we did in Engakuji Temple. Among them, in Ho-jo garden, some viewed the garden quietly and were immersed in the Zen world.

At Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, as a lot of things attracted the participants’ attention, it was challenging to keep them together. However, I managed to take all participants to Hongu*6. I explained to them that this was a shrine that believers in Shitoism, a Japanese indigenous religion, visit for worship. But some confused a shrine with a temple. Unexpectedly, we could listen to a Gagaku*7 performance at Maiden*8, which made the day memorable for us. At the end, we accompanied the participants to Komachi-dori street where the tour ended.

Sanmon*1 The two-storied main gate of Engakuji Temple
Butsuden*2 A building that enshrines Shakamuni with a Jeweled Crown, the main object of worship of the temple
Karamon*3 A type of Chinese gate often seen at the entrances of Japanese temples and castles. It is characterized by the usage of an undulating bargeboard. It was used when temples invited special guests, such as the Imperial Family.
Ho-jo*4 It was a lounge for the abbot of Engakuji Temple, but it is now used for religious rituals, Zen meditations and so on.
Shariden*5 A building that houses what is claimed to be a tooth of Shakyamuni. This building is the only building with the designation of National Treasure in Kanagawa prefecture.
Hongu*6 Main shrine: That stands where you go up stone steps.
Gagaku*7 Ancient Japanese court dance and music
Maiden*8 A stage for dance and music performance