Kamakura, Kanagawa

Kamakura, Kanagawa

Infobox City Japan
Name= Kamakura
JapaneseName= 鎌倉市

Region= Kantō
Prefecture= Kanagawa
Area_km2= 39.60
PopDate= January 2008
Population= 173,588
Density_km2= 4380
LatitudeDegrees= 35
LatitudeMinutes= 19
LongtitudeDegrees= 139
LongtitudeMinutes= 33
Tree= Yamazakura (Prunus jamasakura)
Flower= Gentian
SymbolDescription= Flag
Mayor= Tokukazu Ishiwata
CityHallAddress= 18-10 Onarimachi, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa-ken
CityHallLink= [http://www.city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp/ Kamakura City]

nihongo|Kamakura|鎌倉市|Kamakura-shi is a city located in Kanagawa, Japan, about 50 km south-south-west of Tokyo. It used to be also called nihongo|Renpu|鎌府 (short for nihongo|"Kamakura Bakufu"|鎌倉幕府| or Kamakura Shogunate.

Although Kamakura proper is today rather small, it is sometimes considered a former "de facto" capital of Japan as the seat of the Shogunate and of the Regency during the Kamakura Period. According to The Institute for Research on World-Systems, [http://irows.ucr.edu/research/citemp/citemtoc.htm Cities, Empires and Global State Formation. Institute for Research on World-Systems] ] Kamakura was the 4th largest city in the world in 1250 A.D., with 200,000 people, and Japan's largest, eclipsing Kyoto by 1200 A.D.

As of January 1, 2008, the city has an estimated population of 173,588 and a density of 4,380 persons per km². The total area is 39.60 km².

Kamakura was designated as a city on November 3, 1939.

Kamakura has a beach which, in combination with the temples and the proximity to Tokyo, makes it a popular tourist destination.

Kamakura is also noted for its "senbei", which are crisp rice cakes grilled and sold fresh along the main shopping street. These are very popular with tourists, especially Japanese tourists.


Surrounded to the north, east and west by mountains and to the south by the open water of Sagami Bay, Kamakura is a natural fortress. Before the construction of several tunnels and modern roads that now connect it to Fujisawa, Ofuna and Zushi, on land it could be entered only through seven artificial passes called nihongo|Kamakura's Seven Entrances|鎌倉七口, a name sometimes translated as "Kamakura's Seven Mouths". The natural fortification made Kamakura an easily defensible stronghold. Before the opening of the Entrances, access on land was so difficult that the Azuma Kagami reports that Hōjō Masako came back to Kamakura from a visit to Sōtōzan temple in Izu bypassing by boat the impassable Inamuragasaki cape, arriving in Yuigahama [http://www.kcn-net.org/kiritosi/index.htm Hiking to Kamakura's Seven Entrances and Seven Passes] , The Kamakura Citizen Net ja icon] . Again according to the Azuma Kagami, the first of the Kamakura shoguns, Minamoto no Yoritomo, chose it as a base partly because it was his ancestors' land (his "yukari no chi"), partly because of these physical characteristics.

To the north of the city stands nihongo|Mt. Genji|源氏山 (92 m), which then passes behind the Daibutsu and reaches Inamuragasaki and the seaKamakura Shōkō Kaigijo (2008: 64)] .

From the north to the east Kamakura is surrounded by nihongo|Mt. Rokkokuken|六国見 (147 m), nihongo|Mt. Ōhira|大平山 (159 m), nihongo|Mt. Jubu|鷲峰山 (127 m), nihongo|Mt. Tendai|天台山(141), and nihongo|Mt. Kinubari|衣張山(120 m), which extend all the way to Iijimagasaki and Wakae Island, on the border with Kotsubo and Zushi. From Kamakura's alluvional plain branch off numerous narrow valleys like the Urigayatsu, Shakadōgayatsu, Ōgigayatsu, Kamegayatsu, and Matsubagayatsu valleys. (The ending "ヶ谷" meaning "valley", common in place names and usually read "-gaya", in Kamakura is pronounced "-gayatsu").

Kamakura is crossed by the Namerigawa river, which goes from the Asaina Pass in northern Kamakura to the beach in Yuigahama for a total length of about 8 km. The river marks the border between Zaimokuza and Yuigahama.

In administrative terms, the municipality of Kamakura borders with Yokohama to the north, with Zushi to the east, and with Fujisawa to the west. The city of Kamakura is the result of its fusion with the cities of nihongo|Koshigoe|腰越, absorbed in 1939, and Ofuna, absorbed in 1948, and with the village of Fukasawa, absorbed in 1948.

Kita-Kamakura (Yamanouchi)

North-west of Kamakura lies Yamanouchi, commonly called Kita-Kamakura because of the presence of East Japan Railway Company's (JR) Kita-Kamakura Station. Yamanouchi, however, was technically never a part of historical Kamakura since it is outside the Seven Entrances. Yamanouchi was the norther border of the city during the shogunateŌnuki (2008:50)] , and the important Kobukorozaka and Kamegayatsu Passes, two of Kamakura's Seven Entrances, led directly to it. Its name at the time used to be nihongo|Sakado-gō|尺度郷 [Yume Kōbō (2008:4)] . The border post used to lie about a hundred meters past today's Kita-Kamakura train station in Ofuna's direction.

Although very small, Yamanouchi is famous for its traditional atmosphere and the presence, among others, of three of the five highest-ranking Rinzai Zen temples in Kamakura, the nihongo|Kamakura Gozan|鎌倉五山. These three great temples were built here because Yamanouchi was the home territory of the Hōjō clan, a branch of the Taira clan which ruled Japan for 150 years. Among Kita-Kamakura's most illustrious citizens were artist Isamu Noguchi and movie director Yasujiro Ozu. Ozu is buried at Engaku-ji.

The old city and its six avenues

Kamakura's defining feature is, today as in the past, the presence of the great Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Shinto shrine at its center, partly because of an unusual feature of the shrine, its 1.8 km nihongo| sandō|参道 (approach) which runs all the way to the ocean in Yuigahama and is known as Wakamiya Ōji Avenue, the city's main street. Built by Minamoto no Yoritomo as an imitation of Kyoto's nihongo|Suzaku Ōji|朱雀大路, Wakamiya Ōji used to be much wider, delimited on both sides by a 3 m deep canal and flanked by pine trees (see the Edo period print)Kamakura Shōkō Kaigijo (2008: 56-57)] .

Walking from the beach toward the shrine one passes through three "torii", or Shinto gates, called respectively "Ichi no Torii" (first gate), "Ni no Torii" (second gate) and "San no Torii" (third gate). Between the first and the second lies nihongo|Geba|下馬 which, as the name indicates, was the place where riders had to get off their horses in deference to Hachiman and his shrine.

Some hundred meters further, after the second "torii" begins the nihongo|"dankazura"|段葛, a raised pathway flanked by cherry trees that marks the center of Kamakura. The "dankazura" becomes gradually wider so that, seen from the shrine, it will look longer than it really is. Its entire length is under the direct administration of the shrine. The "danzakura" used to go all the way to Geba, but it was drastically shortened during the 19th century to make way for the Yokosuka railroad line, then under construction.

In Kamakura, wide streets are called nihongo|"Ōji"|大路、narrower ones nihongo|"Kōji"|小路, the small streets that connect the two are called nihongo|"zushi"|辻子, and intersections nihongo|"tsuji"|辻. On Wakamiya Ōji’s east runs Komachi Ōji Avenue, on its west Ima Ōji Avenue, that like it go from north to south. Yoko Ōji Avenue, the road that passes right under "San no Torii", and Ōmachi Ōji Avenue, which goes from Kotsubo to Geba and Hase, run in the east - west direction.

Avenue (also called Biwa Koji) (see photo).

These six streets (three going from north to south and three going from east to west) were built at the time of the shogunate and are all still under heavy use. The only one to have been modified is Kuruma Ōji, a segment of which has disappeared.

Early history

The earliest traces of human settlements go back to at least 10 thousand years ago, as obsidian and stone tools found at excavation sites near nihongo|Jōrakuji Temple|常楽寺 near Ofuna were dated to the Old Stone Age (between 100 thousand and 10 thousand years ago) [http://www.kcn-net.org/e_kama_history/history/history1.htm Kamakura: History and the Historic Sites - Through the Heian Period] , the Kamakura Citizen Net, retrieved on April 27, 2008] . During the Jomon period the sea level was higher than now and all the flat land in Kamakura up to Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū and, further east, up to Yokohama's Totsuka-ku and Sakae-ku was under water. Thus, the oldest pottery fragments found come from hillside settlements of the period between 7500 BCE and 5000 BCE. In the late Jomon period the sea receded and civilization progressed.

During the Yayoi period (300 BCE - 300 CE) the sea receded further almost to today's coastline, and the economy shifted radically from hunting and fishing to farming.

Kamakura had been thought to have been a rather small place in its early days, but we know now that by the Nara Period (about 700 CE) there were both temples and shrines, so it can be assumed that it was already a center of a certain size and importance. Sugimoto-dera was built during this period and is therefore one of the city's oldest temples.

Etymology of the name Kamakura and its first use

There are various hypotheses about the origin of its name. According to the most likely one Kamakura, surrounded as it is on three sides by mountains, was likened both to a cooking stove (a nihongo|"kamado"|竃) and to a warehouse (a nihongo|"kura"|倉), because both only have one side open. It seems therefore likely that it was called at first Kamadokura, and that the syllable "do" was then gradually dropped.

Another and more picturesque explanation is a legend according to which Fujiwara no Kamatari stopped at Yuigahama on his way to today's Ibaraki Prefecture where he wanted to pray for peace at the Kashima Jingu Shrine. He dreamed of an old man who promised his support, and the day after he found next to his bed a type of swordcalled "kamayari". Kamatari enshrined it in a place called Okura. "Kamayari" plus Okura turned into Kamakura.

The name appears in the "Kojiki" of 712 [http://www.kcn-net.org/e_kama_history/history/origin.htm Kamakura: History & Historic Sites - Origin of the Name Kamakura] , the Kamakura Citizen Net, retrieved on April 27, 2008] [Kurano (1958: 224-225)] . Kamakura is also mentioned in the c. 8th century "Man'yōshū" [Satake (2002: 315, 337)] [Satake (2003: 393)] as well as in the "Wamyō Ruijushō" [Minamoto (1966, 203-204)] of 938. However, the city clearly appears in the historical record only with Minamoto no Yoritomo and his shogunate of 1192.

Kamakura's heyday

The extraordinary events, the historical characters, and the culture of the century that goes from Minamoto no Yoritomo's birth to the assassination of the last of his sons have been throughout Japanese history the background and the inspiration for countless poems, books, jidaigeki TV dramas, Kabuki plays, songs, mangas and even videogames, and are necessary to make sense of much of what one sees in today's Kamakura.

Minamoto no Yoritomo, after the defeat and almost complete extermination of his family at the hands of the Taira clan, managed in the space of a few years to go from being a fugitive hiding from his enemies inside a tree trunk to being the most powerful man in the land. Defeating the Taira clan, Yoritomo became "de facto" ruler of Japan and founder of the Kamakura shogunate, an institution destined to last until 1333 and to have immense repercussions over the country's history. Though Yoritomo was not the first to ever hold the title of Shogun, he was the first to wield it over the whole nationSee article Genpei War] . The beginning of the Kamakura shogunate marked the rise of military (samurai) power and the suppression of the Emperor's power, who was compelled to preside without effective political or military power. In addition, this war and its aftermath established red and white, the colors of the Taira and Minamoto standards, as Japan's national colors. Today, these colors can be seen on the flag of Japan, and also in banners and flags in sumo and other traditional activities. In 1179 Yoritomo married Hōjō Masako, an event of far-reaching consequences for Japan.

In 1180 Yoritomo entered Kamakura, in 1185 his forces, commanded by legendary hero Minamoto no Yoshitsune, vanquished the Taira and in 1192 he received from Emperor Go-Toba the title of nihongo|"seii-tai shogun"|征夷大将軍. The Minamoto dynasty and its power however ended as quickly and unexpectedly as they had started.

. From then on all power would belong to the Hōjō, and the shogun would be just a figurehead. Since the Hōjō were part of the Taira clan, it can be said that the Taira had lost a battle, but in the end had won the war.

Yoritomo's second son and third shogun Minamoto no Sanetomo spent most of his life staying out of politics and writing good poetry, but was nonetheless famously assassinated in February 1219 by his nephew Kugyō under the giant ginkgo tree that still stands at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū. Barely 30 years into the shogunate, the Seiwa Genji dynasty in Kamakura had tragically ended [http://www.kcn-net.org/e_kama_history/history/history2.htm Kamakura: History & Historic Sites - The Kamakura Period] , the Kamakura Citizen Net, retrieved on April 27, 2008] .

The Hōjō Regency, a unique episode in Japanese history, however continued until Nitta Yoshisada defeated it in 1333.

The fall, renaissance and final decline of the city

As we have seen, a major change took place in the Kamakura shogunate when the Hōjō, acting as regents for the shogun, usurped power . It was under their regency that Kamakura acquired many of its best and most prestigious temples and shrines, for example Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū, Kenchō-ji, Engaku-ji, Jufuku-ji, Jōchi-ji, and Zeniarai Benten Shrine. The Hōjō family crest in the city is therefore still ubiquitous.

Finally, on July 5, 1333 warlord Nitta Yoshisada, who was an Emperor loyalist, attacked Kamakura. After trying to enter by land through the Kewaizaka Pass and the Gokuraku-ji Pass, he and his forces waited for a low tide, bypassed the Inamuragasaki cape, entered the city and took it.Mutsu (1995/06: 19 - 40)] .

] . Many simple citizens imitated the Hōjō, and an estimated total of over six thousand died on that day of their own hand. In 1953 556 skeletons of that period were found during excavations near Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Ichi no Torii in Yuigahama, all of people who had died of a violent death, probably at the hand Nitta's forces. The Kamakura period was over, and Kamakura would never be the same again.

When Ashikaga Takauji became shogun in 1335, he at first established his residence at the same site where Yoritomo's mansion had been, but in 1336 he left Kamakura in charge of a deputy and moved to Kyoto.Kamakura slowly recovered from the blow it had received and became a kind of secondary administrative center where laws and regulations were made. As the city of residence of the Kanto "Kubō", or ruler of the Eastern Japan, and of his adviser, the Kamakura "Kanrei" [Hall, Duus (1990:232)] , it regained part of its former affluence and prestige, but not only was it nonetheless a shadow of its former self, but this period of renaissance lasted barely a century.

Kamakura was again heavily damaged during a siege in 1454 and almost completely burned during the Siege of Kamakura (1526). Many of its citizens moved to Odawara when it came to prominence as the seat of the Late Hōjō clan. The final blow to the city was the decision taken in 1603 by the Tokugawa shoguns to move the capital to nearby Edo, the place now called Tokyo. The city gradually returned to be the poor fishing village it used to be before Yoritomo's arrival.

The Meiji era and the 20th century

After the Meiji restoration Kamakura's great cultural assets, its beach and the mystique that surrounded its name made it as popular as it is now, and for pretty much the same reasons. The destruction of its heritage nonetheless didn't stop: during the anti-buddhist violence of 1868 ("haibutsu kishaku") that followed the official policy of separation of Shinto and Buddhism ("shinbutsu bunri") many of the city temples were damaged. In other cases, because mixing the two religions was now forbidden, shrines or temples had to give away some of their treasures, thus damaging their cultural heritage and decreasing the value of their properties. Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū's giant nihongo|Niō|仁王] (the two wooden warden gods usually found at the sides of a Buddhist temple's entrance), for example, being objects of Buddhist worship and therefore illegal where they were, were brought to Jufuku-ji, where they still are [See article Jufuku-ji] . The shrine also had to destroy Buddhism-related buildings, for example its nihongo|"tahōtō"|多宝塔 tower, its nihongo|"midō"|御堂, and its nihongo|"garan"|伽藍Kamakura Shōkō Kaigijo (2008: 28)] . Some Buddhist temples were simply closed, like Zenkō-ji, to which the now-independent Meigetsu-in used to belong [See article Meigetsu-in] .

In 1890 the railroad, which until then had arrived just to Ofuna, reached Kamakura bringing in tourists and new residents, and with them a new prosperity. Part of the ancient Dankazura (see above) was removed to let the railway system's new Yokosuka Line pass.

The damage caused by time, centuries of neglect, politics, and modernization was further compounded by nature in 1923. The epicenter of the Great Kantō earthquake that year was deep beneath Izu Ōshima Island in Sagami Bay, a short distance from Kamakura. Tremors devastated Tokyo, the port city of Yokohama, and the surrounding prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka, causing widespread damage throughout the Kantō region. [Hammer (2006: 278] ] It was reported that the sea receded at an unprecedented velocity, and then waves rushed back towards the shore in a great wall of water over seven meters high, drowning some and crushing others beneath an avalanche of water-born debris. The total death toll from earthquake, tsunami, and fire exceeded 2,000 victims. [Hammer (2006: 115 - 116).] Large sections of the shore simply slid into the sea; and the beach area near Kamakura was raised up about six-feet; or in other words, where there had only been a narrow strip of sand along the sea, a wide expanse of sand was fully exposed above the waterline. [Hammer (2006:116)]

Many temples founded centuries ago are therefore careful replicas, and it's for this reason that Kamakura has just one National Treasure (the Shariden at Engaku-ji). Much of Kamakura's heritage was for various reasons first lost and later rebuilt. [http://www.kcn-net.org/e_kama_history/history/history4.htm Kamakura: History and the Historic Sites - Kamakura in the Modern era (the Meiji period)] and following sections, The Kamakura Citizen net, retrieved on April 5, 2008] ] .

Nichiren in Kamakura

Kamakura is known among Buddhists for having been during the 13th century the cradle of Nichiren Buddhism. Founder Nichiren wasn't a native: he was born in Awa Province, in today's Chiba Prefecture, but it was only natural to a preacher to come here because at the time the city was the political center of the countryMutsu (1995/06: 258 - 271)] . He settled down in a straw hut in the Matsubagayatsu district, where three temples (Ankokuron-ji, Myōhō–ji, and Chōshō-ji), have been fighting for centuries for the honor of being the true heir of the master. During his turbulent life Nichiren came and went, but Kamakura always remained at the heart of his religious activities. It's here that, when he was about to be executed by the Hōjō Regent for being a troublemaker, he was allegedly saved by a miracle, it's in Kamakura that he wrote his famous nihongo|"Risshō Ankoku Ron"|立正安国論, or "Treatise on Peace and Righteousness", it's here that he was rescued and fed by monkeys and it's here that he preached.

The locations most important to Nichiren Buddhism are:

* The three temples in Matsubagayatsu Ankokuron-ji claims to have on its grounds the cave where the master, with the help of a white monkey, hid from his persecutors. (It must be noted however that Hosshō-ji in Zushi's Hisagi district makes the same claim, and with a better historical basis [ [http://www.nichiren-shu.org/newsletter/nichirenshu_news/Nichiren147e.pdf Shakyamuni Buddha and His Supporters] , Nichirenshu.org, retrieved on May 25, 2008] [ [http://www.j-area2.com/area/shonan/hosshoji.html Photo of Hosshō-ji's gate with its sculpted white monkeys] ] .) Within Ankokuron-ji lie also the spot where Nichiren used to meditate while admiring Mount Fuji, the place where his most faithful disciple Nichiro was cremated, and the cave where he is supposed to have written his "Risshō Ankoku Ron".

Nearby Myōhō–ji (also called "Koke-dera" or "Temple of Moss"), a much smaller temple, was erected in an area where Nichiren had his home for 19 years.

The third Nichiren temple in Nagoe, Chōshō-ji, also claims to lie on the very spot where it all started.

* The nihongo|Nichiren Tsujiseppō Ato|日蓮聖人辻説法跡 on Komachi Ōji in the Komachi district contains the very stone from which he used to harangue the crowds, claiming that the various calamities that were afflicting the city at the moment were due to the moral failings of its citizens.
* The former execution ground at Katase's Ryūkō-ji where Nichiren was about to be beheaded (an event known to Nichiren's followers as the nihongo|Tatsunokuchi Persecution|龍ノ口法難), and where he was miraculously saved when thunder struck the executioner. Nichiren had been condemned to death for having written the "Risshō Ankoku Ron"Kamakura Shōkō Kaigijo (2008: 46) ] . Every year, on September 12, Nichiren devotees gather to celebrate the anniversary of the miracle [Kamakura Shōkō Kaigijo (2008: 186)] .
* The nihongo|Kesagake no Matsu|袈裟掛けるの松, the pine tree on the road to Inamuragasaki from which Nichiren hanged his "kesa" (a Buddhist stole) so that it wouldn't get soaked in his blood during his execution. The original pine tree however died and has been replaced many times.

Famous locations

Kamakura has many historically significant Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, some of them, like Sugimoto-dera, over 1200 years old. Kōtoku-in, with its monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha, is the most famous. A 15th century tsunami destroyed the temple that once housed the Great Buddha, but the statue survived and has remained outdoors ever since. This iconic Daibutsu is arguably amongst the few images which have come to represent Japan in the world's collective imagination. Kamakura also hosts the so-called Five Great Zen Temples (the "Kamakura Gozan").

The architectural heritage of Kamakura is almost unmatched, and the city has proposed 23 of its historic sites for inclusion in Unesco's World Heritage Sites list. It must be remembered, however, that much of the city was devastated in the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 and that many temples and shrines, however founded centuries ago, are physically just careful replicas.

Some of Kamakura's highlights are:
* The Asaina Pass and its Kumano Jinja
* Ankokuron-ji
* An'yō-in
* Engaku-ji, ranked Number Two among Kamakura's Great Zen Temples
* Hatakeyama Shigeyasu's grave
* Jōchi-ji, ranked Number Four among Kamakura's Great Zen Temples
* Jōmyō-ji temple, ranked Number Five among Kamakura's Great Zen Temples
* Jufuku-ji, ranked Number Three among Kamakura's Great Zen Temples
* Hase-dera
* Kanagawa Prefectural Ofuna Botanical Garden
* Kenchō-ji, ranked Number One among Kamakura's Great Zen Temples and, together with Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū, the pride of the city
* Kōmyō-ji
* Kōtoku-in and its Great Buddha
* The Kamakura Museum of Literature, the former villa of Marquises Maeda
* Meigetsu-in
* Minamoto no Yoritomo's grave
* Moto Hachiman
* Myōhōn-ji
* Ōfuna Kannon [http://guide.city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp/eng/stroll/scene/kanmon.htm]
* Tatsunokuchi, where Mongol emissaries were [http://www.kamakura-burabura.com/meisyoenosimajyourituji.htm beheaded] and buried.
* Katase's Ryūkō-ji
* Sugimoto-dera
* The Shakadō Pass (see description below)
* Tōkei-ji, famous in the past as a refuge for battered women
* Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū, symbol of the city
* Wakamiya Ōji Avenue, with its three beautiful torii and cherry trees
* Yuigahama, a popular beach
* Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine, where visitors go to wash their coins
* Zuisen-ji, famous for its garden

Festivals and other events

Kamakura has many festivals (nihongo|matsuri|祭り) and other events in each of the seasons, usually based on its rich historical heritage. They are often sponsored by private businesses and, unlike those in Kyoto, they are relatively small-scale events attended mostly by locals and a few touristsKamakura Shōkō Kaigijo (2008: 170 - 188) ] . January in particular has many because it's the first month of the year, so authorities, fishermen, businesses and artisans organize events to pray for their own health and safety, and for a good and prosperous working year. Kamakura's numerous temples and shrines, first among them city symbols Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū and Kenchō-ji, organize many events too, bringing the total to over a hundred.


4th - nihongo|"Chōna-hajimeshiki"|手斧初式 at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū: This event marks the beginning of the working year for local construction workers who, for the ceremony, use traditional working tools. The festival also commemorates Minamoto no Yoritomo, who ordered the reconstruction of the main building of the shrine after it was destroyed by fire in 1191. The ceremony takes place at 1:00 PM at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū.


Day before the first day of spring (usually Feb. 3) - nihongo|"Setsubun Matsuri"|節分祭 at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū, Kenchō-ji, Hase-dera, Kamakura-gū, etc. : Celebration of the end of winter. Beans are scattered in the air to ensure good luck.


2nd to 3rd Sunday: "Kamakura Matsuri" at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū and other locations: A whole week of events that celebrate the city and its history.


5th - nihongo|"Kusajishi"|草鹿| at the Kamakura Shrine: Archers in samurai gear shoot arrows at a straw deer while reciting old poems.


1st - 31st - Little Thailand Beach Event: A group of Thai restaurants and shops stays open until the end of August on Yuigahama's beach.


10th (or following Monday if it falls on a Saturday): A full hour of fireworks on the beach in Yuigahama.


14th, 15th and 16th - nihongo|Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Reitaisai|鶴岡八幡宮例大祭: Famous festival with many attractions, the most famous of which is the nihongo|Yabusame|流鏑馬, or Japanese horseback archery, which takes place on the 16thKamakura City's List of Festivals and Events] .

The Shakadō PassAnchor|Shakado

Besides the Seven Entrances there is another great pass in the city, the huge nihongo|Shakadō Pass|釈迦堂切通 which connects ShakadōgayatsuThe ending "ヶ谷", common in place names and usually read "-gaya", in Kamakura is normally pronounced "-gayatsu", as in Shakadōgayatsu, Ōgigayatsu, and Matsubagayatsu.] to the Ōmachi and Nagoe (formerly called Nagoshi) districts.

According to the plaque near the pass itself, the name derives from the fact that third Shikken Hōjō Yasutoki built here a Shakadō (a Buddhist temple devoted to Shakyamuni) dedicated to his father Yoshitoki's memory. The original location of the temple is unclear, but it was closed some time in the middle Muromachi Period. The Shaka Nyorai statue that is supposed to have been its main object of cult has been declared an important cultural property and is conserved at Daien-ji in Meguro, Tokyo.

Although important, the pass was not considered one of the Entrances because it connected two areas both fully within Kamakura. Its date of creation is unclear, as it's not explicitly mentioned in any historical record, and it could be therefore recent. It seems very likely however that a pass which connected the Kanazawa Road to the Nagoe area called nihongo|Inukakezaka|犬懸坂 and mentioned in the nihongo|Genpei Jōsuiki|源平盛哀記 in relation to a 1180 war in Kotsubo between the Miura clan and the Hatakeyama clan is indeed the Shakadō PassKamiya Vol. 1 (2006/08: 71 - 72)] . In any case, the presence of two "yagura" tombs (see the following section) within it means that it can be dated to at least the Kamakura period. It was then an important way of transit, but it was also much narrower than today and harder to pass.

Inside the pass there are two small yagura tombs containing some gorintō. On the Shakadōgayatsu side of the pass, just before the first houses a small street on the left takes to a large group of "yagura" called "Shakadōgayatsu Yagura-gun". There rest the bones of some of the hundreds of Hōjō family members who committed seppuku at Tōshō-ji after the fall of Kamakura in 1333.

The pass appears many times in some recent Japanese films like "The Blue Light", nihongo2|"Heavenly Forest"|ただ、君を愛してる|"Tada, kimi wo ai shiteru", and nihongo|"Peeping Tom"|真木栗ノ穴|Makiguri no ana. The pass is presently closed to all traffic because of the danger posed by falling rocks.

The "yagura" tombs

. Her ashes are not actually there, as they were lost centuries ago.] An important and characteristic feature of Kamakura is a type of grave called nihongo|"yagura"|やぐら"Kamakura Shōkō Kaigijo (2008: 35 - 36)]

"Yagura" are caves dug on the side of hills during the Middle Ages to serve as tombs for high-ranking personalities and priests. Two famous examples are Hōjō Masako's and Minamoto no Sanetomo's cenotaphs in Jufuku-ji's cemetery, about 1 km from Kamakura Station.

Usually present in the cemetery of most Buddhist temples in the town, they are extremely numerous also in the hills surrounding it, and estimates of their number always put them in the thousands. "Yagura" can be found either isolated or in groups of even 180 graves, as in the nihongo|Hyakuhachi Yagura|百八やぐら. Many are now abandoned and in a bad state of preservation.

The reason why they were dug is not known, but it is thought likely that the tradition started because of the lack of flat land within the narrow limits of Kamakura's territory. Started during the Kamakura period (1185–1333), the tradition seems to have declined during the following Muromachi period, when storehouses and cemeteries came to be preferred.

True "yagura" can be found also in the Miura Peninsula, in the Izu Peninsula, and even in distant Awa Province (Chiba). 

Tombs in caves can also be found in the Tohoku region, near Hiroshima and Kyoto, and in Ishikawa Prefecture, however they are not called "yagura" and their relationship with those in Kanagawa Prefecture is unknown. 



The East Japan Railway Company's Yokosuka Line has three stations within the city. Ōfuna Station is the northernmost. Next is Kita-Kamakura Station. In the center of the city is Kamakura Station, the central railway station in the city.

Kamakura Station is the terminal for the Enoshima Electric Railway. This narrow-gauge railway runs westward to Fujisawa, and part of its route runs parallel to the seashore. After leaving Kamakura Station, trains make eight more station stops in the city. One of them is Hase Station, closest to Hase-dera and Kōtoku-in.


Kamakura has many educational facilities. The city operates sixteen public elementary schools and nine middle schools. The national government has one elementary and one middle school, and there are two private elementary and six private middle schools. At the next level are four prefectural and six private high schools. Also in Kamakura is a prefectural special school.

Kamakura Women's University is the city's sole university.

Government and administration

Kamakura has a mayor and a city council, all publicly elected. The mayor is Tokukazu Ishiwata [ [http://www.city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp/sityou/index.html 鎌倉市長のページ / 鎌倉市] ] . The City Council consists of 28 members.

ister cities

Kamakura has five sister cities. Three are domestic and two are overseas. The sisters within Japan are Hagi, Ashikaga and Ueda. Kamakura's international sisters are Nice in France and Dunhuang in the People's Republic of China [ [http://www.city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp/foreign01_english/1_1_outline.html Introduction to Kamakura かまくら GreenNet] ] .



* cite book
last = Mutsu
first = Iso
coauthors =
title = Kamakura. Fact and Legend
publisher = Tuttle Publishing
date = 1995/06
location = Tokyo
id = ISBN 0804819688

* cite book
last = Kamiya
first = Michinori
coauthors =
title = Fukaku Aruku - Kamakura Shiseki Sansaku Vol. 1
publisher = Kamakura Shunshūsha
date = 2000/08
location = Kamakura
language = Japanese
id = ISBN 4774003409

* cite book
last = Kamakura Shōkō Kaigijo
first =
coauthors =
title = Kamakura Kankō Bunka Kentei Kōshiki Tekisutobukku
publisher = Kamakura Shunshūsha
year = 2008
location = Kamakura
language = Japanese
id = ISBN 978-4-7740-0386-3

* cite book
last=John Whitney Hall
first=Peter Duus
title=The Cambridge History of Japan (Hardcover)
editor=Yamamura Kozo
publisher=Cambridge University Press

* Hammer, Joshua. (2006). [http://books.google.com/books?id=6O8VyhDbUPgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Tokyo+1923&lr=&source=gbs_summary_r "Yokohama Burning: The Deadly 1923 Earthquake and Fire that Helped Forge the Path to World War II."] New York: Simon & Schuster. 10-ISBN 0-743-26465-7; 13-ISBN 978-0-743-26465-5 (cloth)
* [http://www.kamakuratoday.com/e/event.html Kamakura Today: Annual Events] en icon
* [http://guide.city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp/matsuri/matsuri_index.htm Kamakura City's List of Festivals and Events] ja icon
* cite book
last = Kurano
first = Kenji
coauthors = Yūkichi Takeda
title = Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei 1: Kojiki
publisher = Iwanami Shoten
year = 1958
location = Tōkyō
id = ISBN 4-000-60001-X

* cite book
last = Minamoto
first = Shitagō
authorlink = Minamoto no Shitagō
coauthors = Kyōto Daigaku Bungakubu Kokugogaku Kokubungaku Kenkyūshitu
title = Shohon Shūsei Wamyō Ruijushō: Gaihen
publisher = Rinsen
year = 1966
location = Kyōto
id = ISBN 4-653-00508-7

* cite book
last = Satake
first = Akihiro
coauthors = Hideo Yamada, Rikio Kudō, Masao Ōtani, Yoshiyuki Yamazaki
title = Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei: Man'yōshū 3
publisher = Iwanami Shoten
year = 2002
location = Tōkyō
language = Japanese
id = ISBN 4-00-240003-4

* cite book
last = Satake
first = Akihiro
coauthors = Hideo Yamada, Rikio Kudō, Masao Ōtani, Yoshiyuki Yamazaki
title = Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei: Man'yōshū 4
publisher = Iwanami Shoten
year = 2003
location = Tōkyō
language = Japanese
id = ISBN 4-00-240004-4

* cite book
last = Harada
first = Hiroshi
coauthors =
title = Kamakura no Koji
publisher = JTB Publishing
year = 2007
location =
language = Japanese
id = ISBN 453307104X

* cite book
title=Kamakura. Rekishi to Fushigi wo Aruku
publisher=Jitsugyō no Nihonsha

* cite book
last=Kita-Kamakura Yūsui Network
title=Gaidobukku ni Noranai Kita-Kamakura
publisher=Yume Kōbō

External links

* [http://www.city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp/foreign01_english/index.html Official web site] en icon
* [http://sightseeing.in-japan.jp/2007/06/a_pilgrim_in_kamakura.html Kamakura's Daibutsu] en icon
* [http://www.kamakura-e.com/nenpyo/nenpyo_e.html Kamakura's History - Chronological table] en icon

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