Kamakura Terminology


Azuma-kagami
Literally 'Mirror of Eastern Japan'. Official epic-type documents of the Kamakura Shogunate made of 62 volumes covering 86 years from 1180 when Yoritomo Minamoto rose up in arms against the arch-rival enemy Taira Clan up until Prince Munetaka, the Sixth Shogun, returned to Kyoto in 1266. Actually, it was complied during the period from 1266 to 1301. Writers unknown. One of the most important sources of information on the political history in the first half of the Kamakura Period, and tell us how the Shogunate was run, and what the samurai society was like back then. If anything, the records take sides with the Hojo family who controlled the most part of the Kamakura Period. In addition, how Yoritomo Minamoto (the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate and the First Shogun) died, the most critical part of the Period, are not referred to. Being written all in Chinese characters, the laity cannot decipher them.

Chinzo also called Chinso
Portraits and sculptures of Zen priests. In Zen Buddhism, young priests study Buddha's teachings from their master priests. After they completed a course of study and reached a certain level of knowledge, their masters let them paint masters' portraits and awarded the portraits to the disciples as evidences of ordainment. Once the masters passed away, the portraits were hung in the altar as objects of worship. Those portraits helped develop Japanese painting technique. The most famous one is that of Rankei-Doryu, the founding priest of Kenchoji, and it is a National Treasure. Master priests' statues were also chiseled by sculptors and revered as objects of worship. Both portraits and statues are characterized by the realistic representation. Other than Zen priests, few portraits were drawn those days because emperors, court nobles and famous samurai were reluctant to allow anyone to draw their pictures in fear that their enemies would use them as objects of curse.
A typical Chinzo of Mugaku-Sogen (a Chinese Zen priest. Founding priest of Engakuji) at Shokokuji in Kyoto.

Dankazura
dankazura There is a main street running east of Kamakura Station and leading to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. Between the second torii-gate and the third one, there is a slightly elevated walkpath in the center of the road roughly 50 centimeters high, 3 meters wide and 460 meters long, lined with some 300 cherry trees and azaleas on both sides. This walkpath is called Dankazura.
In early April, the path changes to a long arch made of cherry blossoms. It was originally constructed at the command of Yoritomo Minamoto when his wife Masako was in pregnancy. At age 36, Yoritomo had two daughters but no son or heir apparent yet. Under the Kamakura Shogunate rule, only the eldest male child was qualified to succeed to the Shogun's post. (The same holds true for today's Imperial Family.) The couple really wanted to have a baby boy and they prayed that the next child be a boy, dedicating this path to the Shrine in 1182. It was modeled after the Miyako Oji Street in Kyoto, the main boulevard of the Capital. Their prayer was answered the same year. The newly born child was a boy and named Yoriie, inheriting later the post of the Shogun. Recent excavation revealed that the original road was quite different from what we see today. It was as wide as 33 meters, and on both sides, there were moats, 3 meters wide and 1.5 meters deep, to prevent enemies from breaking in. The walkpath had been stretching from the first torii gate near the beach up to the third one for 1,500 meters. However, the path between the first gate and the second one was flattened in 1878 to deal with increasing traffic jams.

Domon
A unique ornamentation made on the robes of Buddha statues. A technique developed in Kamakura and can be found nowhere else. Patterns of flowers, leaves of tree and Buddhist fittings are put on the robe of the statues. Those are made of clay and stuck on the surface of the robes of statues with lacquer. To make those ornaments, clay are put into molds which have patterns of flower, leaves and fittings. Those patterned clays are glued on the statues with lacquer. They look as if they were embroidered. The oldest Domon appears on the robe of Amida statue at Jokomyoji. The statue of Sho Kan'non installed in the Treasure House of Tokeiji gives us a good chance to see it real close. Unfortunately, however, most of their tints and colors faded with times. Others that have domon ornament are: Saya Amida statue at Kakuonji, Idaten statue of Jochiji, Kangiten statue at Hokaiji, Jizo Bosatsu statue at Denshu-an sub-temple of Engakuji etc.

Ema {eh-mah}
EmaLiterally "picture horse", but they are wooden plates on which prayers or petitions are written and used as votive tablets. Normally, a horse is drawn on the tablet. After writing a wish or two such as success in entrance examination or happy marriage, petitioners hang them at the doors of the shrine and pray their wishes be answered. Apart from Emma, popular shrines and temples sell a wide array of amulets of all kinds, to name a name a few, praying good health of the family, quick recovery from illness, family safety (e.g. to prevent automobile accidents), business prosperity.



Eto {eh-toh} or twelve signs of Chinese zodiac
There is a cyclical system to count days and years in Chinese calendar. The system eto(rat)consists of two groups of ideographs; a dozen branches (zodiac) and ten stems, which are combined in couples to form an endlessly repeating sexagenary cycles. Each of the twelve branches matches with an animal name, starting with the Rat, followed by the Ox (Bull), the Tiger, the Rabbit (Hare), the Dragon, the Serpent (Snake), the Horse, the Sheep (Goat, Ram), the Monkey, the Rooster (Cock), the Dog and ending with the Boar (Pig, Goat). They are based on an ancient system for counting days, divisions of the day, years and directions. The stems begin with Koh and ends with Ki.
The following are the twelve branches and ten stems expressed in both On and Kun {koon} readings. (There are two types of reading in Chinese characters: The On readings are the pronunciations resulting from Chinese loan words. They thus echo the original Chinese pronunciation as it was understood in ancient Japan. The Kun readings on the other hand are native Japanese pronunciations.)

Twelve branches (zodiacs)

Kun-reading Pronounced On-reading Pronounced Animal
Ne {neh} Shi {she} Rat
Ushi {woo-she} Chu {chew} Ox
Tora {toh-rah} In {in} Tiger
U {woo} Bou {bo-woo} Rabbit
Tatsu {tah-tsu} Shin {shin} Dragon
Mi {me} Shi {she} Serpent
Uma {woo-mah} Go {go} Horse
Hitsuji {he-tsu-gee} Bi {be} Sheep
Saru {sah-roo} Shin {shin} Monkey
Tori {toh-re} Yuu {you} Rooster
Inu {e-noo} Jutsu {jew-tsu} Dog
I {e} Gai {ghah-e} Boar


Ten stems

On-reading Pronounced Kun-rending Pronounced
Ko {koh} Kinoe {key-noh-eh}
Otsu {oh-tsu} Kinoto {key-noh-toh}
Hei {hay} Hinoe {he-noh-eh}
Tei {tay} Hinoto {he-noh-toh}
Bo {boh} Tsuchinoe {tsu-chee-noh-eh}
Ki {key} Tsuchinoto {tsu-chee-noh-toh}
Ko {koh} Kanoe {kah-noh-eh}
Shin {shin} Kanoto {kah-noh-toh}
Jin {gin} Mizunoe {me-zoo-noh-eh}
Ki {key} Mizunoto {me-zoo-noh-toh}


The following are tables showing current 60 years before and after 2000 by 12 branches and 10 stems:

Sixty-year before 2000

Rat Ox Tigr Rabt Drgn Snke Hrse Shp Mnky Rstr Dog Mnky
Koh 1984 1974 1964 1954 1944 1994
Otsu 1985 1975 1965 1955 1945 1995
Hei 1996 1986 1976 1966 1956 1946
Tei 1997 1987 1977 1967 1957 1947
Bo 1948 1998 1988 1978 1968 1958
Ki 1949 1999 1989 1979 1969 1959
Ko 1960 1950 2000 1990 1980 1970
Shin 1961 1951 1941 1991 1981 1971
Jin 1972 1962 1952 1942 1992 1982
Ki 1973 1963 1953 1943 1993 1983


Sixty-year after 2000

Rat Ox Tigr Rabt Drgn Snke Hrse Shp Mnky Rstr Dog Mnky
Koh 2044 2034 2024 2014 2004 2054
Otsu 2045 2035 2025 2015 2005 2055
Hei 2056 2046 2036 2026 2016 2006
Tei 2057 2047 2037 2027 2017 2007
Bo 2008 2058 2048 2038 2028 2018
Ki 2009 2059 2049 2039 2029 2019
Ko 2020 2010 2000 2050 2040 2030
Shin 2021 2011 2001 2051 2041 2031
Jin 2032 2022 2012 2002 2052 2042
Ki 2033 2023 2013 2003 2053 2043


Most often quoted are twelve zodiac signs to mark the years. Although young people today may not be familiar with those signs, ordinary Japanese know at least in what animal year they were born. In case it is impolite to ask someone's age, we ask instead "In what animal year were you born?" The answer is enough to guess his or her birth year.

There is a famous ballpark called Koshi-en near Osaka, the homefield of Hanshin Tigers of Japan Professional Baseball, and a baseball mecca for senior high-school ballplayers. Twice a year, one in spring and the other in mid-summer, 50-odd high school teams representing every Prefecture join here for championship games after winning local qualifying tournaments contested by more than 4,000 schools throughout Japan. Among them was Hideki Matsui (1974-), who was an outfielder of the New York Yankees in the 2000s and won the MVP Award in the 2009 World Series. He played at Koshi-en as a player of the team from Ishikawa Prefecture in 1992. It is well known among the Japanese baseball fans that in one game at Koshien, he was issued 5 straight intentional walks. The ballpark was constructed in 1924, and was named Koshi-en (garden) as the year was Ko and Shi (rat). During the games, which last ten days to two weeks, Japanese go nuts watching TV, and daily newspapers turn into sports papers. In the summer tournament, electricity consumption reaches a peak, because people watch the games on TV with the air-conditioning blasting. Businesses are usually slow until the final game is over. (Meanwhile, baseball was introduced to Japan in 1871 by Horace Wilson (1843-1927), an American teacher, who was born in Gorham, Me., and came to Japan in 1871 to teach English and mathematics at today's Tokyo University. In recognition of his contribution, his descendants were invited to the opening ceremony of the game held in August 2001. Home run hitter Babe Ruth visited Japan and played an exhibition game here in 1934.)

Even today, people do not like to have a baby in a particular year. It is believed among the superstitious, for instance, that women born in the year of hinoe-uma are fiery and could kill their husbands. Obviously it is a superstition. Nevertheless, people seem to be very concerned about it as statistics explain. The number of childbirth in 1966, the most recent hinoe-uma year, was 1.36 million as against 1.8 million or so in the year before and after. The next hinoe-uma year will be 2026.

Not only do Eto mark the year but also they denote time and direction.
Time: A day starts at twelve midnight which was called Ne (rat), the first of twelve zodiac signs and it moves to the next zodiac every two hours. Twelve noon was called Uma or Go (horse). The twelve zodiacs are applied even to the day. Traditionally, temples and shrines perform many of their services and festivals on the days based on those signs. To name a few, Inari Shrines holds its annual festival on the first Horse Day of February and Benten shrines on the first Snake Day of February.

Direction: Starting Ne (rat) for the north, each zodiac is assigned every 30 degrees clockwise, and ends with I (boar) for north-northwest.

Gorinto
gorintoTranslated into English with many phrases such as Five-tier-tomb, Five-element-stele (pagoda, stupa), Five-wheel-pagoda, Five-ring-tower or Gravemarkers with five-tiers. Whatever you may call them, they are made of five pieces of stones as grave markers or cenotaphs erected for the repose of the departed. Usually made of five tiers of curved stone, each expressing one of the basic elements of the universe: The earth, water, fire, wind and the sky, which Buddhists believe create everything of the universe. The bottom stone is a cube and called the Earth ring expressing the earth. From the second, a sphere (Water ring), triangular shape like pyramid (Fire ring), semi-sphere (Wind ring) and placed on top is peach-shaped hoju (mani in Sanskrit) and is called Sky ring. The concept is similar to that of Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), who said the material universe consists of four elements; fire, air, earth and water. On each stone, there usually appears a Sanskrit symbol. Gorinto first appeared sometime in the middle of the Heian Period (794-1185) and many of them can be seen in Kyoto as well, but the ones made during the Kamakura Period are most beautiful, say experts on Gorinto. Its height ranges from one to four meters. Characteristic is that it is indigenous to Japan and can be seen in no other countries, not in China either. Most of the existing Gorinto in Kamakura were made in the late Kamakura Period. Masterpieces:

Name Temple/Shrine Made in
Ninsho-to Gokurakuji 1303
Kakuken-to Jokomyoji 1306
Enkei-san'nen-to Gokurakuji 1310
Gentoku-nin-to Zeniarai Benten 1330


Hachimangu shrine (or Hachiman shrine)
Hachimangu is a shrine in which Emperor Ojin (?-310) , the 15th Emperor (emperors before him are legendary) , is enshrined and has long been revered by the Imperial Family. It was also the tutelary deity of the Minamoto family and worshiped as the god of war and victory. Unlike Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines have no icon. In the center of the altar, a round mirror (the symbol of the Sun Goddess) and a sword, etc. are placed. Incidentally, the sacred mirror, a sword and a jewel called magatama (a comma-shaped bead to be exact) are the three imperial regalia, or the symbol of the legitimacy and authority of the emperors. Shrine structures are normally made of two parts: The oratory in front and the sanctum at the rear. Worshipers are not allowed to step inside. In a large shrines, you may see people sitting in the oratory hall. They are those who are receiving religious service from the Shinto priests to pray something for them, such as well-being of family, success for entrance exam, protection from traffic accident, good marriage, etc. When a child was born, for example, the child's parents and grandparents usually bring the child to the shrine on his or her 100th day from the birth and have the priest pray the child's good health. There is no list prices for this service, but the average fees for this ceremony cost us 10,000 yen per child. The prayer last about 10-15 minutes for a group of five or so.

Hokyo-into
hokyointo If Gorinto translates as Five-element-stele, then Hokyo-into should be called Three-element-stele, representing, from the bottom, the earth, water and fire. In the middle is a square cube, and on each surface, an image of the Lord Buddha is often engraved. Like Gorinto, this was erected mostly as a cenotaph and partly as a tomb.

When I visited the Kamakura Museum for the first time years ago, I was unable to tell the difference between the two. I asked the receptionist for help. She sent for a specialist working for the museum. The specialist was kind enough to explain the difference, and gave me copied literatures relating to them. In short, all stones of Hokyo-into are squarely cut and it consists of the footing, body, umbrella and ornamental top. An-yo-in has the oldest one in the Kanto area behind its main hall. A number of Hokyo-into are also seen at Komyoji.

Hokkekyo
Lotus Sutra in Japanese. Based on the Sutra, the Nichiren Sect was founded by Priest Nichiren (1222-1282), who propagated mainly in Kamakura. Today, there is a powerful lay Buddhist group called Soka Gakkai (Value Creation Society) and this group is associated with Nichiren's Hokkekyo. Also introduced from China during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) was Zen (Ch'an in Chinese), which fitted Samurai's spirit and flourished well. To describe the characters of each sect of the major Buddhist group in short, it is said that Tendai is for the royal family, Shingon for the nobilities, Zen for the warrior classes and the Nichiren/Jodo for the masses. There are approximately 120 temples in Kamakura, and roughly one thirds belong to the Nichiren Sect.

In-school Sculptors
In Kamakura, there were excellent sculptors of Buddha-statues during the Kamakura Period, whose names often begin with an in, like Inkei, In'no and Inko. Inkei fashioned a sedentary statue of Priest Koho-Ken'nichi, which is enshrined at Shoto-in of Kenchoji, and In'no carved a statue of Priest Myogen-Shoin, which is installed at Shoden-an of Engakuji. The sedentary statue of Ashuku Nyorai enshrined at Aizendo hall of Kakuonji was also carved by Inko in 1322. Those excellent sculptors were locals in Kamakura and played important roles in fashioning Buddha-statues in the 14th century. Though many remain unknown, they are called In school members, 'In' to demonstrate their common artistic lineage.

Itabi {e-tah-bee}
Cenotaphs made with stone slabs. Made usually for the repose of departed souls in and after the mid Kamakura Period. Engraved on the slab are for the most part Sanskrit letters showing Amida (Amitabha in Skt.). Some depict Gorinto, Hokyo-into, or Buddha images. Hase-dera has many of them displayed in its Treasure House. One of them is 266-centimeter long made in 1308, on which a Hokyo-into is portrayed. The Kamakura Museum also exhibits one of them. Gosho Shrines has one of the oldest Itabi in Kamakura.
A typical Itabi shown at the official site of Nagareyama city, Chiba Prefecture.



Kamakura-bori, or Kamakura Wood-carving.
hakkodoMulti-layer lacquered wood-carving produced in Kamakura. It dates all the way back to the 13th century when there were excellent sculptors in Kamakura who carved Buddha statues and related ornaments/fittings. Their technique was succeeded from one generation to the next. As Kamakura began to wane in importance in the 15th century, demand for statue-carving dropped off. They found a niche in the area of utensils such as trays used domestically in a kitchen, and today, Kamakura-bori is a specialty of the city. Basically, Kamakura-bori is a lacquer technique which is applied to a carved wooden base. It usually has dark-red or dark-brown color with floral and geometric designs. Kamakura Wood-Carving Hall built in 1968 and renewed in 2005, is located at the east side of Wakamiya Oji street next to Catholic Yukinoshita Church. Its ground floor is a showroom for new products and open to the public. Hakko-do (picture; left) standing near the third torii gate of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is run by the Goto family whose ancestor was a famous sculptor of Buddha statues in Kamakura some 600 years ago.


Kamakura Gozan
Literally, Kamakura's five mountains, meaning five great Zen temples in Kamakura, namely Kenchoji, Engakuji, Jufukuji, Jochiji and Jomyoji.

Kanrei
Assistant to Kubo (see below) or vice governor instated after Takauji Ashikaga established the new Ashikaga regime in Kyoto in the mid-14th century. The positions were hereditarily succeeded by the Uesugi family. Though Kanrei was assistant to Kubo, they were influential in politics as Kubo, their bosses, were usually young and nominal.

Koshin-to
koshintoKoshin is one of the sixty names allotted on each day (and year) in lunar calendar (See Eto). To be specific, it is the 57th day of 60-day cycle, namely combination of 'Ko' and 'Monkey'. In ancient days, people believed that if they slept at the night of this particular day, three worms living inside their bodies would come out while they were asleep and report to the heavenly god all the sins they committed. Since the heavenly god controls their lifetimes, those who slept may die young depending on what the worms report. Pious people got together in a town-hall and kept vigil on this night so that the worms may be contained inside their bodies, and refrained from any wrongdoing. This folk belief is based on Taoism in China, not Buddhism, and was introduced to Japan during the Heian Period (794-1185). Gathering at night and chatting all night every sixty day were well accepted by people, and the practice flourished like a social party. The objects of worship for this koshin gathering were multiple and mixture of three religions: Buddhism, Taoism and Shintoism. Buddhists worship Shomen Kongo in Japanese, or Yaksa in Skt., which is believed to be a messenger of Taishakuten (Sakra devanam indra in Skt.). The statue, colored blue, has three red eyes and a coiled snake on top of head with pugnacious expressions. Shomen Kongo is said to have super-natural power to disperse demon of ill health. For the Shintoists, the object of worship is Sarutahiko, or a mythological deity for the Japanese, who was a guide for the Amaterasu Sun Goddess when she descended to earth. (Refer to Shinto for details.) Saru of Sarutahiko has two means in Japanese: One is auxiliary words to deny something, identical 'not' in English, and the other a monkey as a noun. At the Koshin night gathering, people had to behave themselves. The easiest way was not to see, not to hear and not to speak, popularly called the principle of the blind, the deaf and the dumb. You may encounter a group of three carved monkeys, one with his hands covering eyes, one ears and the other mouth, which originate from this Koshin with the word saru ('not' and a monkey).

Koshin-to are stone monuments erected, usually every three years, to mark the practice. Some are engraved with the statue of Shomen Kongo, while others with three monkeys. Can be seen at Jufukuji (picture, above), Goryo Jinja, Gosho Jinja, etc.
In Meguro ward, Tokyo, there are 70 Koshin-to, and one of them is here.



Kiri-doshi
kamegayatsu kiridoshiLiterally, a pass that was cut through the hills to enable overland travel and transportation of goods to and from the town. There were seven Kiri-doshi in Kamakura, all of which were constructed at the strategically important hills. The cuts are narrow, barely able for one man on horseback to pass through, that was to keep the enemy from rushing in. The photo shows Kamegayatsu Kiridoshi, which connect Chojuji with the Kaizoji area.

Kubo {koo-boh}
The post of Governor-General institutionalized in 1336 by the Ashikaga Shogunate to govern and control eastern Japan. Though Takauji Ashikaga, the first Ashikaga Shogun, moved the capital from Kamakura back to Kyoto, Kamakura was still important both politically and militarily. Kubo was therefore stationed in Kamakura. The first Kubo was Motouji Ashikaga, son of Takauji, and then the post was succeeded hereditarily by his family as follows:

1st: Motouji Ashikaga (1340-1367)
2nd: Ujimitsu Ashikaga (1359-1398)
3rd: Mitsukane Ashikaga (1378-1409)
4th: Mochiuji Ashikaga (1398-1439)
5th: Shigeuji Ashikaga (1434-1497)

Mandala
A mandala in Skt. means a circle, or a place that contains the essence.
In Japanese Buddhism, it is a symmetrically arranged symbolic diagram to express fundamental doctrine to be used for ritual and meditation. Mainly honored by Tendai and Shingon sect Buddhists. According to Prof. Elizabeth ten Grotenhuis who taught at Boston and Harvard University, the Japanese mandala is a kind of cosmic ground plan or map, and lays out a sacred territory or realm in microcosm, showing the relations among the various powers active in that realm and offering devotees a sacred precinct where enlightenment takes place.

There are two types: Kongokai (Diamond, or Vajra-dhatu) and Taizokai (womb, or Garbha-dhatu in Skt.), both depicting Buddha and Bodhisattvas with the Dainichi Nyorai (Vairocana in Skt.) in the center. Diamond mandala consists of nine assemblies forming equal rectangles, while womb mandala has many Buddha and Bodhisattva images around the Dainichi Nyorai.

A Kongokai Mandala and Taizokai Mandala at MFA.


Roku-jizo
rokujizoRoku is literally six. Often translated as 'Jizo of Six States of Existence'.
In Buddhist world, it is believed that once we die, all enter into one of the world of the following six stages, or Sad-gati in Skt.: jigoku (hell), gaki (a famished devil or Preta in Skt.), chikusho (the world of beasts), ashura or Asura in Skt.(a scene of bloodshed), ningen (human beings), tenjo (heaven). All states are the world of sufferings even in heaven. Six Jizo, each assigned to one of the six states, rescues those in distress out of the stage. This group of six-Jizo statues, mostly made of stone, can be found in some temples in Kamakura. Most famous is the one standing about 500 meters southwest of Kamakura Station on the road side of Yuigahama street connecting the Station with the Great Buddha Statue. Others at: Choshoji (picture; left) , Kosokuji at Juniso, Kakuonji etc.


Sanbo Honzon
Sanbo means three treasures in Japanese and denotes the basic elements of Buddhism: The Lord Buddha, the Law (Dharma in Skt.) and priesthood (Sangha in Skt.). Sanbo Honzon is referred to as the main objects of worship peculiar to the Nichiren Sect. It consists of three objects. In the center is placed a tablet inscribed with the sacred formula 'Nam-myo-ho-ren-gek'kyo' called Odaimoku, meaning adoration to the Lotus Sutra. On the left of the tablet is a statue of Taho Nyorai (Prabhutaratna in Skt.) and Shaka Nyorai (Sakyamuni in Skt.) on its left. The triad is called Itto Ryoson, or one tablet and a pair of statues. Added to the trio is the statue of Priest Nichiren, the founder of the Nichiren Sect. The pair of the Nyorai statues symbolize the Lord Buddha, and the tablet is the Law with the statue of Priest Nichiren representing the Sangha. This set of statues and tablet is the principal object of worship employed by many Nichiren Sect temples.
A Sanbo Honzon on view at Yokosuka City's website.


Shikken
Shikken is the regent to the Shogun, and ruled Japan on behalf of the Shogun during the Kamakura Period. The first Shikken was Tokimasa Hojo, father-in-law of Yoritomo Minamoto, and served Third Shogun Sanetomo, as Sanetomo was too young at the time of his succession. When Sanetomo was assassinated in 1219, the Kamakura government invited a one-year-old baby from Kyoto as the Fourth Shogun, and Shikken continued to be de fact rulers of Japan. It was succeeded by legitimate members of the Hojo family. The Shikken system lasted nearly 120 years and the last one was 16th Moritoki Hojo.

Tsuji-no-Yakushido

tsujino yakushidoThe name of a hall located at Omachi, 700 meters south southeast of Kamakura Station close by the railway tracks, which houses statues of Yakushi (Bhaisajya-guru in Skt.) trinity and its Twelve Guardian Ministers. Before the Yokosuka Line was built in 1889, there had been a temple called Chozenji right here, enshrining all those statues. Back at the time, Japan was heading toward a military power, and five years later, Japan invaded China entering into the Sino-Japanese War. It was imperative for the government to connect Yokosuka, the stronghold of Japan's navy, to Tokyo by rail. In laying trucks, however, the temple was standing in the way. The militaristic government paid little attention to the Buddhist institutions and did not take no for an answer. The temple was forced to close down. Thanks to the volunteer groups formed by Kamakuraites who knew how valuable the statues were, most of them were saved and are still kept at this hall, though not on public display. Some of them were transferred to the Kamakura Museum and are on view at the Museum.


Waka-ejima
Off the eastern part of Kamakura beach, there are remains of reclaimed land called Waka-ejima. It was built in 1233 and served as an important man-made harbor during the Kamakura Period. Logs needed to repair Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrines, among many others, were unloaded here. Today, the area is covered with piles of stones and reveal itself only at low tide.

Yabusame (Horseback archery)
During the Kamakura Period, samurai warriors were almost always mounted archers. To be a good samurai, each had to be skillful in mounted archery. In peace time, they sharpened their skills with hunting and target-shooting, or Yabusame. It is a mounted archery. Archers shot the three stationary targets in quick succession riding a horse at full gallop. Yabusame was held under the patronage of the Shogun. Winners were honored and promoted. In commemoration of this practice, Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine holds this Yabusame archery twice a year. It is getting internationally popular. On May 19 and 20, 2001, Yabusame was demonstrated at Hyde Park, London in the Japan 2001 event. Prince Charles and Prince Hiro of Japan watched the show. President Bush and First Lady Laura also watched the demonstration on February 20, 2002 at Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo at their official visit to Japan.
Yabusame photo album at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu.

Yagura
yaguraYagura in Japanese is a watch-tower or turret. In Kamakura, however, Yagura are caves where cremated remains of samurai and priests were often buried. The Kamakura Shogunate forbade to dig graves or place tombs in the open fields in 1242 as the flat space was scarce. Since then, people had to bury ashes digging caves at hill sides. The soil in Kamakura is mostly tuff and digging a cave was rather easy. Once an opening was made, ashes were placed in one of the several niches dug on the floor or wall inside the cave. In other words, caves were basically graves, and Gorinto and/or Hokyo-into were placed. On the walls of caves, Sanskrit letters are usually engraved, most of them meaning Amitabha, though unable to decipher. Those who were buried there were mostly from the upper-class families. Exactly how many yagura exist in Kamakura is unknown, but the number is said to be no less than 4,000. Most noted among them are those on the hill behind Kakuonji, which is popularly called 108 yagura. (There are 177 to be precise.) Behind Zuisenji are 79, and 56 are located near Jomyoji. Since those are not accessible for occasional visitors, the easiest way to see them is to go behind Jufukuji, where typical yagura including that of Masako Hojo and Sanetomo Minamoto are found in the graveyard (picture; left).
During the 150-year Period, Kamakura maintaining a population of 20,000 must have produced 100,000 dead people on the assumption that their average life-span was 30 years. How could they deal with the corpse in such a small area? A cave may have housed 20 remains at best. Others were sent into sea and valleys.

Yofukuji
One of the most famous ruined temples in Kamakura. Located halfway through the road linking Kamakuragu Shrines to Zuisenji. Constructed by Yoritomo Minamoto modeling after the Nikaido Hall of Chusonji, Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture. (Note: Chusonji was enrolled as a UNESCO's World Heritage site in June 2011.) Yoritomo built this gorgeous temple for the salvation of the war-dead in 1194 and the temple was as gorgeous as Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine under the full support of the Shogunate. Unfortunately, it was burned down in 1405 and later ceased to exist. The 86,000-square-meter area has been excavated since 1983 and the excavations uncovered how the original temple looked like. A Historic Site designated by Kanagawa Prefecture.
Computer graphic images of the original Yofukuji are here made by Shonan Institute of Technology (a local college) in Fujisawa City.



(Updated August 2012)

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