Date: 30th November 2017
Jomyoji (浄妙寺) is a temple of the Kenchoji school, Rinzai sect of Buddhism built in 1188 by Ashikaga Yoshikane (a samurai significant to the rise of the Ashikaga clan’s influence in the Kamakura shogunate), and is number five of the Kamakura Gozan (Kamakura Five Mountains). It is the only one of the five temples that was not built by the Hojo clan, but instead the Ashikaga clan.
The first priest was Taiko Gyoyu who was a disciple of Priest Myōan Eisai/Yōsai, who brought the Rinzai sect. of Zen Buddhism and green tea from China to Japan. The temple was initially Higashi Gokurakuji of the Shingon sect. of Buddhism, and only identified itself with Zen Buddhism in 1258 under Priest Geppo Ryonen with the support of the father of Ashikaga Takauji (founder and first shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate), Sadauji. Geppo was a disciple of Rankei Doryu (Lanxi Daolong), the renowned Chinese Buddhist priest who founded the famous Kenchoji. The tomb of Sadauji can be found in the graveyard behind the temple.
However, as Jomyoji was located in close vicinity to the Kamakura Government office, it was often subjected to destruction and fires caused by battle outbreaks. Thus, even though the temple used to have several buildings, only the main hall, main gate, reception hall and warehouse survive today.
To the left of the main temple is Kisen-an, a tea house, originally built in 1580 and was reconstructed in 1991. You can enjoy tea and Japanese sweets here at a small fee depending on your menu selection, while admiring the beautiful kare-sansui (dry landscape) garden.
If you go further up, you will find a western cafe / restaurant called Ishigama Garden Terrace – such a weird feeling to find a western cafe up on a hill of a Japanese Buddhist temple.
It was such a relaxing afternoon and though being a number five of the Kamakura Gozan, Jomyoji was quiet, allowing me to enjoy the autumn scenery and some (probably) out-of-season flowers.
Opening hours: 09:00 – 16:30
Admission fee: 100 yen
From Kamakura Station, take bus 23, 24 or 36 to Jomyoji Bus Stop (8-9 minutes ride, 200 yen), in which the temple is just a 5 minutes walk away. Alternative, you can also walk from Kamakura Station which should take roughly 30 minutes. The temple is in close proximity to the bamboo temple Hokokuji (5 minutes on foot), thus making it a great combined visit.