The top Zen temple in Kamakura whose garden is a designated National Scenic Beauty spot.
Kencho-ji is a 15 minute walk from Kita Kamakura Station, one stop north of JR Kamakura Station on the Yokosuka Line.
Established in 1253, Kencho-ji was the original exclusive Zen training temple in Japan. A 730-year-old juniper tree stands proudly before the temple as a symbol of the temple – and the sect’s – longevity. The garden and the bell are both recognised by the government as objects of national pride.
The grounds are substantial extending deep into the wooded hills behind. The garden is simply stunning with exquisitely delineated ponds and some sublime use of borrowed scenery. The view from the observation platform at the highest point of the grounds is gorgeous, particularly in autumn when the maple leaves are in full flush. From here an hour-long hiking trail leads through the hills to Zuisenji Temple.