A World Away

You can wake up in the heart of Tokyo, amidst all the high rises and throngs of people rushing to work, and hop on a train and be in another world in less than an hour.

Back in my college days, stepping off the train at Kita-Kamakura was something I looked forward to. It hasn’t changed all that much. The entrance to Engaku-Ji, Temple of Complete Understanding, is just past the wicket.

The main gate is just a few steps beyond the cherry blossoms and leafing maples.

At many temples, the main gate is called the Three Gates because you are to enter with nothing, with no desires, and with no form.

Engaku-ji is a series of temples that follow one after the other deep up a narrow valley. On all sides, steep forests are filled with singing of birds, and especially the Uguisu, the Japanese bush warbler.
Engaku-Ji was founded in 1282 by a Chinese Zen monk, and is one of the most famous Zen temples in Japan. On weekends, the crowds visiting the temple grounds can be daunting, but during the week, it can be very quiet and relaxing.

I was thrilled to find a white skunk cabbage in bloom. Someday I would like to plant some in our woods.

The path ends at the small Winter Jasmine Temple. I could sit here for hours.

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