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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 a 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 next structure 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

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Hotels around Kamakura

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    • Guest House Irodori Kamakura
      Budget-friendly
      Set less than 1 km from Yuigahama Beach, Guest House Irodori Kamakura offers 1-star accommodation in Kamakura and has a terrace. With a shared lounge, the 1-star guest house has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a shared bathroom. The accommodation offers a shared kitchen, a 24-hour front desk and organising tours for guests. At the guest house, all rooms have a desk. All guest rooms will provide guests with a fridge. An Asian, vegetarian or vegan breakfast is available every morning at the property. At Guest House Irodori Kamakura you will find a restaurant serving Japanese cuisine. Vegetarian and vegan options can also be requested. The area is popular for cycling, and bike hire is available at this 1-star guest house. Zaimokuza Beach is less than 1 km from the accommodation, while Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is a 19-minute walk from the property. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda Airport, 41 km from Guest House Irodori Kamakura.
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    • CASA Kamakura Espresso&BED
      Budget-friendly
      Featuring 2-star accommodation, CASA Kamakura Espresso&BED is located in Kamakura, 1.2 km from Zaimokuza Beach and 2.8 km from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. The 2-star guest house has air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom and free WiFi. The property is non-smoking and is situated 600 metres from Yuigahama Beach. At the guest house rooms come with bed linen and towels. Sankeien is 23 km from CASA Kamakura Espresso&BED, while Yokohama Marine Tower is 23 km from the property. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda Airport, 42 km from the accommodation.
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    • ÖƂ̏h qy - Kamakura Rakuan -
      Budget-friendly
      Set in Kamakura and with Yuigahama Beach reachable within 300 metres, ÖƂ̏h qy - Kamakura Rakuan - offers a garden, non-smoking rooms, free WiFi throughout the property and a shared lounge. This 1-star hostel offers a shared kitchen and babysitting service. Zaimokuza Beach is 1.3 km away and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is 3.4 km from the hostel. All guest rooms come with air conditioning, a fridge, an oven, a coffee machine, a shower, free toiletries and a desk. The units feature a shared bathroom, a hairdryer and bed linen. The area is popular for hiking and cycling, and bike hire is available at this 1-star hostel. Sankeien is 23 km from the hostel, while Yokohama Marine Tower is 23 km from the property. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda Airport, 43 km from ÖƂ̏h qy - Kamakura Rakuan -.
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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 Kamakura Zen-ji
      Budget-friendly
      Facing the beachfront, Guest House Kamakura Zen-ji offers 2-star accommodation in Kamakura and features a garden and shared lounge. This 2-star guest house offers free WiFi. The property is non-smoking and is located 300 metres from Yuigahama Beach. Rooms are complete with a shared bathroom, while certain rooms at the guest house also offer a seating area. Guests at Guest House Kamakura Zen-ji will be able to enjoy activities in and around Kamakura, like hiking and cycling. Zaimokuza Beach is 1.4 km from the accommodation, while Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is 3.5 km away. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda Airport, 43 km from Guest House Kamakura Zen-ji.
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    • guesthouse SHIBAFU
      Budget-friendly
      Guesthouse SHIBAFU has a garden, shared lounge, a terrace and restaurant in Kamakura. With a bar, the 1-star guest house has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. The property is non-smoking and is situated 600 metres from Yuigahama Beach. Rooms are equipped with a kettle, while some rooms also boast a balcony and others also feature garden views. At the guest house the rooms are fitted with bed linen and towels. Zaimokuza Beach is 1.3 km from guesthouse SHIBAFU, while Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is 2.8 km from the property. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda Airport, 42 km from the accommodation.
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    • Zen Vague
      Budget-friendly
      Located 200 metres from Yuigahama Beach, Zen Vague offers 1-star accommodation in Kamakura and features a fitness centre, a garden and a terrace. This 1-star guest house offers luggage storage space and free WiFi. The property is non-smoking and is situated less than 1 km from Zaimokuza Beach. At the guest house each room has a shared bathroom. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is 3 km from Zen Vague, while Sankeien is 23 km away. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda Airport, 42 km from the accommodation.
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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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    • Tosei Hotel Cocone Kamakura
      Mid-range
      Featuring 3-star accommodation, Tosei Hotel Cocone Kamakura is set in Kamakura, 1 km from Yuigahama Beach and 1.1 km from Zaimokuza Beach. Featuring a restaurant, this 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. All guest rooms in the hotel are fitted with a flat-screen TV. At Tosei Hotel Cocone Kamakura all rooms are fitted with bed linen and towels. The accommodation offers 3-star accommodation with a hot tub. Speaking English and Japanese at the 24-hour front desk, staff are always on hand to help. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is 1.4 km from Tosei Hotel Cocone Kamakura, while Sankeien is 21 km from the property. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda Airport, 41 km from the hotel.
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    • GOOD MORNING ZAIMOKUZA
      Budget-friendly
      With Yuigahama Beach reachable in 300 metres, GOOD MORNING ZAIMOKUZA provides accommodation, a restaurant, a shared lounge, a terrace and a bar. Complimentary WiFi is provided. All units feature air conditioning and a flat-screen TV. An Asian breakfast is available daily at the bed and breakfast. Zaimokuza Beach is 500 metres from GOOD MORNING ZAIMOKUZA, while Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is 2.5 km away. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda Airport, 42 km from the accommodation.
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