Kosoku-ji isn’t one of Kamakura’s better-known temples, but it has a lot going for it.
To begin with, it’s got gardens. Huge, beautiful gardens. The plum trees just finished, but now the cherry and peach are in bloom, plus at least two or three other varieties of flowering trees.
It’s also got history. Okay—all the temples and shrines around here do. But it’s an interesting history. It hasn’t always been a temple. It was a home. And not just any home—it was the home of a loyal retainer to Yoritomo Minamoto, first shogun of the Kamakura Period.
When Yoritomo decided to punish Nichiren, an increasingly popular and influential monk, several of Nichiren’s disciples offered themselves up as well. One of them was Nichiro, who spent his captivity in a cave in the property where Kosoku-ji now stands.
The loyal retainer was so taken with Nichiro and the teachings of Nichiren, that he dedicated his life (and house) to Nichiren’s style of Buddhism.
The cave is still at the back of the property, and visitors can climb up to see it.
Finally—and most importantly if you have kids—is the peacocks. Kosoku-ji has two of the finely feathered birds in a cage to the side of the temple grounds. To my North American eyes, the cage is sadly small, but boy, do kids go wild for those birds (which are well-fed with all the grass little hands can gather).