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Kenchoji (, Kenchōji) is the number one of Kamakura's five great Zen temples. The oldest Zen temple in Kamakura, Kenchoji was founded by the ruling regent Hojo Tokiyori in 1253 during the Kencho Era after which it was named. Its first head priest was Rankei Doryu, a Zen priest from China.

Although considerably smaller than during its heydays, Kenchoji still consists of a large number of temple buildings and subtemples, and stretches from the entrance gate at the bottom of the valley far into the forested hills behind. After passing through the Sanmon main gate, visitors will see Kenchoji's temple bell (Bonsho), designated a national treasure, on their right.

The first temple hall afterwards is the Butsuden (Buddha Hall) which displays a statue of the Jizo Bodhisattva. Behind the Butsuden stands the Hatto (Dharma Hall), the largest wooden temple building in eastern Japan. It houses a statue of Kannon and has a dragon painted on its ceiling.

Kenchoji's main hall is the Hojo, which originally served as the head priest's residence, but is now used for various purposes. Visitors should not miss the garden behind the Hojo, which was designed by Zen master Muso Kokushi.

If you follow the path and stairways for another 15-20 minutes into the hills behind Kenchoji's main grounds, you will eventually arrive at the Hansobo, a shrine for the protection of Kenchoji. There you will also find a small observation deck from which Mount Fuji can be seen on days with good visibility.

If you climb even further (about another five minutes), you will reach a second observation deck with fine views over the entire temple grounds 100 meters below and the city of Kamakura. From there starts the Tenen hiking trail through the northern hills of Kamakura, which leads to Zuisenji Temple and takes about one hour to complete.

Getting there and around

Kenchoji is a 15-20 minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station on the JR Yokosuka Line, one station before Kamakura Station when coming from Tokyo. It can also be reached in about a 15 minute walk from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

How to get to and around Kamakura

Hours and Fees

Hours

8:30 to 16:30

Closed

No closing days

Admission

500 yen

Hotels around Kamakura

Top rated in Kamakura
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    • CASA Kamakura Espresso PUB&BED
      Budget-friendly
      Featuring 2-star accommodation, CASA Kamakura Espresso PUB&BED is situated in Kamakura, 2.8 km from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and 2.1 km from Zeniarai Benzaiten. Featuring a bar, the 2-star guest house has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. Guests can have a drink at the snack bar. Guests at the guest house can enjoy an American breakfast. Guests at CASA Kamakura Espresso PUB&BED will be able to enjoy activities in and around Kamakura, like hiking. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Zaimokuza Beach, Hasedera Temple and Great Buddha. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 35 km from CASA Kamakura Espresso PUB&BED.
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    • Inn By The Sea Kamakura
      Budget-friendly
      Located just steps from Yuigahama Beach, Inn By The Sea Kamakura is a cosy guesthouse-style inn featuring Japanese-style guest rooms with free WiFi access. Hase Station on the Enoden Line is a 3-minute walk away, while Kamakura's Great Buddha can be reached in 10 minutes. Hase Dera Temple and Goryo Shrine are both a 5-minute walk away, while Enoshima is an 18-minute train ride away. Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine is 25-minutes away on foot. Simple rooms feature tatami (woven straw) flooring and traditional futon bedding or western-style rooms. A low table and seating cushions are also provided in the room. Bathrooms and washrooms are shared with other guests. Guests can use the shared refrigerator and kettles located on the second floor. Water and toothbrushes can be purchased on site.
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    • Kamakura Guest House
      Budget-friendly
      Nestled a 10-minute walk away from Shonan-Fukasawa Monorail Station, traditionally-built Kamakura Guest House offers free WiFi in public areas. A shared fully-equipped kitchen and shower rooms are on site. JR Kamakura Station is located 1.5 km away from the guest house. There is a bar and 2 shower rooms on site. There are no bath towels, but hairdryers are available. The property also offers bicycle hire for a convenient way to explore the city. For guests' convenience, luggage storage is offered on the day guests check in and out. Rooms are air-conditioned and the common room features an irori, a traditional Japanese hearth (from October to March), where guests can experience cooking fish the traditional way. Meals are not offered at the property - guests can either dine at restaurants near the property or purchase food from a convenience store or supermarket.
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    • Guesthouse Kamakura Rakauan
      Budget-friendly
      Boasting a garden, Guesthouse Kamakura Rakauan is set in Kamakura in the Kanagawa region, 1 km from Zaimokuza Beach and 3.2 km from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. With a shared lounge, the 1-star hostel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a shared bathroom. The accommodation offers a shared kitchen, and luggage storage for guests. At the hostel, all rooms are fitted with a desk. All guest rooms will provide guests with a microwave. Guests at Guesthouse Kamakura Rakauan will be able to enjoy activities in and around Kamakura, like hiking, cycling and fishing. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Hasedera Temple, Great Buddha and Gokuraku-ji Temple. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 35 km from Guesthouse Kamakura Rakauan.
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    • Guest House Kamakura Zen-ji
      Budget-friendly
      Guest House Kamakura Zen-ji in Kamakura provides adults-only accommodation with a shared lounge and a garden. The property is located 3.5 km from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, 2.9 km from Zeniarai Benzaiten and 5 km from Engaku-ji Temple. Attractions in the area include Gokuraku-ji Temple, 700 metres away, or Riviera Zushi Marina, set 3.4 km from the property. Featuring a shared bathroom, rooms at the guest house also offer free WiFi. Guests at Guest House Kamakura Zen-ji will be able to enjoy activities in and around Kamakura, like hiking and cycling. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Zaimokuza Beach, Hasedera Temple and Great Buddha. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 35 km from Guest House Kamakura Zen-ji.
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    • Zen Vague
      Budget-friendly
      Featuring a fitness centre, shared lounge, garden and free WiFi, Zen Vague is located in Kamakura, 700 metres from Zaimokuza Beach and 2.8 km from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. The property is situated 2.2 km from Zeniarai Benzaiten, 5 km from Engaku-ji Temple and 2.9 km from Riviera Zushi Marina. The property is non-smoking and is set 3.4 km from Kencho-ji Temple. At the guest house each room has a shared bathroom. ZEN VAGUE offers a terrace. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Hasedera Temple, Great Buddha and Gokuraku-ji Temple. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 35 km from Zen Vague.
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    • Guest House Kamejikan
      Budget-friendly
      Just 250 metres from Zaimokuza Beach, Guest House Kamejikan is 1.5 km from JR Kamakura Train Station. It offers simple non-smoking Japanese rooms and dormitory-style accommodation with free WiFi and shared showers. Guests at Kamejikan Guest House can sleep in a bunk bed in a dormitory room, or experience traditional futon bedding on a tatami (woven-straw) floor. All rooms are air-conditioned. Toilets are shared. Built 92 years ago as a family residence, Kamejikan is about 2 km from both the Kamakura Daibutsu Buddha Statue and Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine. Bicycle rental is offered. A shared-use fridge, free-use PC and free coffee/tea are available at the lounge, and a coin launderette is available. The shared showers are open 24/7. Bodyboards and yukata robes can be rented. Breakfast can be served with an advance reservation.
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    • Guest House Irodori Kamakura
      Budget-friendly
      Guest House Irodori Kamakura is set in Kamakura, 1.5 km from Zeniarai Benzaiten and 1.6 km from Great Buddha. With free WiFi, this 1-star guest house offers a 24-hour front desk and a shared kitchen. The accommodation offers a shared lounge, and organising tours for guests. At the guest house all rooms have a shared bathroom. Guests at Guest House Irodori Kamakura can enjoy a vegetarian or a gluten-free breakfast. The accommodation offers a sun terrace. The area is popular for cycling, and bike hire is available at Guest House Irodori Kamakura. Popular points of interest near the guest house include Zaimokuza Beach, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and Hasedera Temple. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 34 km from Guest House Irodori Kamakura.
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    • Kiyaza Kamakura Resort
      Budget-friendly
      Providing free WiFi, Kiyaza Kamakura Resort is situated in Kamakura, 2.3 km from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and 1.7 km from Hasedera Temple. Among the various facilities are a garden, a terrace, as well as a bar. Great Buddha is 2.1 km from the guest house, while Zeniarai Benzaiten is 2.6 km away. Tokyo Haneda International Airport is 55 km from the property.
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    • WeBase Kamakura
      Mid-range
      Located a 3-minute walk from Yuigahama, WeBase Hostel Kamakura offers private and dormitory rooms in Kamakura. The property features a yoga studio where guests can take part in daily yoga classes, meditation and beach yoga sessions. Free WiFi is provided throughout the property. All rooms at WeBase Kamakura Hostel have air conditioning and heating. There are shared shower booths and a public bath. Superior Family Room comes with an en suite bathroom. WeBase Hostel Kamakura features a communal lounge and coin-operated laundry machines. Luggage storage is available at 24-hour front desk. The restaurant on site serves breakfast, as well as tea and coffee made with Fuglen Coffee Roasters coffee beans. Kamakura Station is a 4-minute train ride on the Enoshima Dentetsu Line or a 15-minute walk from the property. Enoshima Station can be reached via a 21-minute train ride.
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