Every temple in Japan comes with its own history; each a monument to a culture that goes back many centuries. Even today, many Japanese regularly attend their local temples and shrines to pray or pay their respects. Visits to these places are usually a quiet and solemn affair, as it can be seen as disrespectful to be loud and silly. However, sometimes a visit to a temple can surprise you, as I found out when I entered Komyoji Temple in Kamakura.
Komyoji Temple is about a half-hour walk southeast from JR Kamakura Station. You can take a bus from the station, but the difference is only a few minutes so I would recommend enjoying a walk along the coast instead. When we arrived, we noticed a large amount of people congregating outside the temple. Perhaps a funeral or a wedding, or just some kind of special ceremony?
On the day we visited Komyoji Temple, we found ourselves in the middle of a bustling, one-day-only flea market event. Not having anticipated such an event at the time of our arrival, I was excited to see what was on offer, especially food-wise, but first we wanted to explore the beautiful temple grounds.
Perhaps the organizers, having thought a flea market was not enough, included a DJ who spun beats while men on either side played traditional-sounding Japanese music with woodwind instruments. It was definitely unexpected!
As we were getting hungry, we decided to keep moving and explore more of the grounds. To the right of the main hall is a gorgeous Zen rock garden.
On the left side of the Komyoji main hall, there is a large pond with some beautiful buildings surrounding it. We continued along the walkway and were surprised to find that the temple staff were running some free cultural activities, in which anybody was able to participate.
They were running a type of Japanese calligraphy session in one of the rooms, and I was keen to try as I needed to work on my kanji-writing skills. It was quiet and peaceful in the room, and by the end of my session I felt incredibly relaxed.
With my mind simultaneously overloaded with Japanese woodwind hip hop and relaxed with peaceful traditional calligraphy, my stomach was growling. It demanded my favorite Japanese snack – takoyaki, which is a savory, dough-like ball with a piece of octopus in the center, covered in sauce and fish flakes and served piping hot. If that does not sound amazing to you, give it a try and you might be surprised!
My visit to Komyoji Temple was the most interesting experience I have had in Kamakura thus far. Even though events like this are likely infrequent, I would still recommend checking out the temple. You can keep up to date with the events on their official website here (Japanese).[cft format=0]