Kamakura served as the capital of Japan from 1185 to 1333.
Two earlier capitals, Nara (710-784) and Kyoto (approx.794-1868), were established by the nobility over a period of more than 1,000 years.
Yet the samurai class turned Kamakura into a refined capital in just 200 years.
As the samurai, or warrior nobility, gained independence from the role of protecting the aristocracy, they gained strength in Kamakura under the Shogunate.
They did not have the financial power and cultural education of the nobility, and thus aimed to create a new type of city, simple in structure yet powerful in appearance.
To do so, they integrated the concepts found in Hachimangu Shrine deities, Zen Buddhism principles, and Kamakura's inspirational nature.
The influence of this unique combination can be seen at Kakuonji, a temple of the Shingon sect. The temple's main building (honden) was created in the Zen architectural style.
After the fall of the Shogunate in 1333, Japan's capital returned to Kyoto. Later, during the Edo period (1603-1868), the capital of Edo (present day Tokyo) gained popularity.
As Kamakura gradually declined, it was financially difficult for many temples to survive.
In modern times, as more people moved to Tokyo and Yokohama from other parts of the country, Kamakura began to serve as a close-by resort and summer getaway.
Today, this small city, surrounded by mountains and the sea, is blessed with a quaint townscape that combines many well-preserved medieval structures and modern buildings. We welcome you to Kamakura and hope you enjoy this unique mosaic where the old and the new, the natural and the manmade, intersect.