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The Flower Temple of Kamakura, overflowing with seasonal flowers

The history of Zuisenji

The history of Zuisenji

Zuisenji was originally built in 1327 (Karyaku 2) by the Zen priest Muso Soseki. Soseki. was very influencial in politics from the end of the Kamakura period to the early Muromachi period. Throughout his life, he had been bestowed the title of kokushi-go (the title given to the most revered priests) seven times by successive emperors. He was also called the mentor of seven emperors. Soseki Muso was a garden designer of the time and very well known for designing the gardens of Saihoji Temple and Tenryuji Temple in Kyoto.

The representative garden of Kamakura

The representative garden of Kamakura

Kamakura does not have as many must-see gardens as it does temples, but the garden of Zuisenji temple by Muso Soseki is worthwhile.  The Zen garden describes mother nature by using only rocks and water. Though the space is not so big, the majesty of mother nature is captured.  The garden was buried under ground for a long time, but it has been reconstructed to its original design following an old sketch of plans.

Plum blossoms add brilliance to the temple

Plum blossoms add brilliance to the temple

You can enjoy flowers in Zuisenji such as ume plum blossoms in early spring, fuyo cotton rose in summer, colored leaves in fall, Suisen daffodils in winter. Seasonal flowers bloom year round in this flower temple of Kamakura. The temple grounds are particularly gorgeous in early spring with the plum garden on the left hand side after the Sanmon gate and the many plum trees in front of the main temple.

A great place for autumn foliage in Kamakura

A great place for autumn foliage in Kamakura

Zuisenji Temple is known for its beautifully colored leaves in fall, as is suggested by the name of the area, Momiji-ga-yatsu, and by the honorific name of the temple, Kinpyo-zan. Momiji means Japanese maple tree, and yatsu means valley or valleys.  Kinpyo means golden folding screen, and zan means mountain. Both names suggest that the area is a treasure trove of colors for the eyes in fall.

According to records, distinguished monks often gathered at Zuisenji Temple long ago and enjoyed making and sharing poems about nature and the seasons. It is said that they were amazed by the red leaves of the groves of Japanese maples. Momiji-ga-yatsu is located deep in the back of Kamakura's mountains, so one might call it Kamakura's secret annex.  The best time for autumn leaves there starts in mid December. Sometimes it even extends into January, depending on the year. This area is the last place in Kamakura where leaves change color.

Trailhead of the Ten-en Hiking Trail

Trailhead of the Ten-en Hiking Trail

The trailhead of Ten-en Hiking Trail (Kamakura Alps) is located in the residential area on the right-hand side of Suizenji Temple when facing the temple from outside the main gate.  It takes 40 minutes waking slowly from the trailhead to reach the Ten-en rest area. The path leads you to Kenchoji Temple in Kitakamakura area via Ten-en.

Information

Address: 710 Nikaido, Kamakura City
Phone: 0467-22-1191
Access:  Take a Keikyu bus bound for “Oto-no-miya” from bus stop number 4 at JR Kamakura station's east exit.  Get off at “Oto-no-miya” and walk 15 minutes.
Map : Map・Access
Official Website: Zuisenji Temple Website

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