|Ancient City Full of Historical Interest
Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture, is where the first military regime of Japan was formed, replacing the previous reign by the imperial court and aristocracy. This regime, called Kamakura Bakufu, was established by Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-99) in 1192. Yoritomo moved Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, a leading Shinto shrine in the area, into the center of the city and modeled the city after Kyoto, comparing the shrine to the Imperial Palace in the center of Kyoto. The road called "Wakamiya Ooji" which runs directly from the shrine to the coast was built during this early period of the city's construction and is still the city's main street today.
In the 18th century, Kamakura had already become a popular
tourist spot. The city was fairly close to Edo (present-day Tokyo), which
was already a big city at that time, and many citizens of Edo visited Kamakura
to worship at the temples and shrines or to visit the historic sites.
Kamakura City today has the quiet, civilized atmosphere of an ancient city. The city is scattered with many temples and shrines, among which are to be found temples built by men of power in the 13th century when the city flourished as the political center of the nation. Many temples and shrines are also famous for their seasonal flowers, the best-known of which are the cherry blossoms of Kenchoji Temple, narcissi and ume (Japanese apricot) flowers of Zuisenji Temple, and hydrangeas in Meigetsuin Temple. Another of the major attractions of Kamakura is the bronze Great Buddha of Kotokuin Temple, which is a National Treasure. This huge statue standing 11.3 meters (37.1 feet) high, made also in the 13th century, sits in the open air and is regarded as a symbol of Kamakura.
Photos: (Top) Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine; (middle) the Great Buddha of Kotokuin Temple. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
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