Kencho-ji is the first of the Five Great Zen temples in Kamakura and is the presiding institution for over 500 smaller temples of the Rinzai Zen sect. It was built at the height of the Kamakura period and the temple was dedicated in 1273 under the patronage of Tokiyori Hojo, the fifth Kamakura Regent. Spread over 20 hectares, the temple features several shrines that abide by the Zen monastic design. The Kencho-ji Temple Bell, Bonsho, was cast during the founding days of the temple and is now designated a National Treasure.
The temple complex is set amid beautifully landscaped and serene Zen gardens which are believed to have been designed by Muso Soseki, a legendary Zen priest and poet. One can enjoy panoramic views of the Zen gardens as well as Mount Fuji on the distant horizon from the observation deck behind Kencho-ji’s largest hall, the Hojo.
The sheer beauty of the gardens, panoramic views, the history of the temple and ancient architecture combine to make Kencho-ji a memorable destination.