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Kamakura Trip Home > Tokeiji Temple(Enkiri-dera or Kakekomi-dera)

The temple with a history as a sanctuary for fleeing wives

The history of Tokeiji Temple

The history of Tokeiji Temple

After her husband, the ninth Kamakura shogunate regent Tokimune Hojo, passed away, widow Kakusan-ni established Tokeiji Temple in 1285 (Koan 8). In the Muromachi era, Tokeiji Temple, a convent, was ranked second in the Kamakura Ama Gozan (ama meaning nun, gozan meaning five great temples). Many daughters from highborn families were in charge of the temple as s chief nun. For example, Yodoni, the imperial princess Emperor Go-Daigo, was the fifth chief nun, and Tenshuuni, daughter of Toyotomi Hideyori, was the twentieth. Up until the early Meiji period, Tokeiji was a sanctuary of wives who wished to end their relationships with their abusive husbands. Women who safely reached the temple could request a divorce. It was unheard of in feudal Japan for a woman, not a man, to seek divorce. Tokeiji Temple rescued many women who suffered from domestic violence, and it became known as Enkiri-dera or Kakekomi-dera, meaning the temple of severed ties. It was like a modern day women's shelter. In order to be accepted by Enkiri-dera, the women who ran away from their husbands just needed to enter the grounds. However, if they were to arrive in the middle of the night or any other time the gates were closed, they could just as easily be under the temple's protection by simply throwing an article they were wearing, such as a hairpin, onto the grounds.

Tokeiji Temple grounds in early spring

Tokeiji Temple grounds in early spring

You can enjoy red and white plum blossoms at the plum grove on the temple grounds from February through early March.  Other than plum blossoms, you can also enjoy the much anticipated Tokeiji Temple Buddha Statues Exhibition held annually in spring. All of the Buddha statues on the temple grounds are brought into the Matsugaoka Hozo museum for exhibition. The museum is also located in the temple grounds. One of the most popular statues is Suigetsu Kannon in the Half-lotus Position.  It is highly recommended to visit the temple during the exhibition because this statue is otherwise only available for viewing with a reservation. (English inquiries accepted by E-mail only.)

Special public access to the iwagarami (Japanese hydrangea vine)

Special public access to the iwagarami (Japanese hydrangea vine)

In recent years, Tokeiji Temple has become increasingly popular during the rainy season for the special public opening to the garden of a special Japanese hydrangea vine. The garden where it grows behind the main hall is not open to the public with the exception of early June. The white flowers, which look like mountain hydrangeas, cover the rock wall. Although it appears that the flowers all grow from many different roots, if you look closely, you can see that the flowers are actually on the branches from one single root. It was planted about 30 years ago and first became open for public viewing about 10 years ago. Many people eagerly wait in a long line in front of the main hall to see these flowers during the special seasonal opening.

Matsugaoka Hozo, the museum of Tokeiji Temple

Matsugaoka Hozo, the museum of Tokeiji Temple

Matsugaoka Hozo houses many cultural artifacts, including the temple’s statues of Buddha, gold lacquer works, and objects of art that belong to Tokeiji Temple. There are also many other materials relating to the temple's history as "Enkiri-dera", or "Kakekomi-dera", such as letters of divorce. By visiting the museum, you can learn facts about how "Enkiri-dera" functioned. For example, you can learn how the women who ran away from their abusive husbands had to serve at the temple for a certain period of time in order to make the divorce happen.

Tokeiji Temple's gallery and shop

Tokeiji Temple's gallery and shop

The gallery and shop opened recently on the temple grounds near the entrance. Tea ceremony-related items and other goods are sold there.

Information

Address:  1367 Yamanouchi, Kamakura City
Phone:  0467-22-1663
Access:  4-minutes walk from JR Kitakamakura station
Map: Visiting information・Access
Official website: Matsuokayama Tokeiji Website

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