At its peak, Jomyo-ji must have been incredible. That’s not to say that it’s not a beautiful spot now — it is, and very peaceful, too. But in 1386, it was comprised of seven buildings and 23 pagoda.
Iso Mutsu writes that “in bygone days Jomyo-ji was one of the five most prominent temples of Kamakura, ranking in importance with the great foundations of Kencho-ji and Engaku-ji.” (Kamakura: Fact and Legend, p. 60.)
Sadly, like so many other Japanese buildings of ages past, Jomyo-ji suffered greatly from fire, having been destroyed twice between its founding in 1188 and the end of the 15th century when, as Mutsu explains, “Jomyo-ji had greatly declined, and even in those early days remained but a shadow of its former splendour.” (p. 61.)
These days, the temple is made up of only a handful of buildings, though it does boast fabulous gardens. It is still considered the fifth of Kamakura’s five great Zen temples.
Turning left from the hondo will take you to Jomyo-ji’s teahouse. For between ¥600 and ¥1100 (early May 2018), visitors can enjoy matcha tea and wagashi (a Japanese sweet). The tearoom is tatami, but tea is served at small tables, so there’s no need to sit in seiza. One side of the teahouse is open, with a ledge for sitting and enjoying the raked gravel garden.
In addition to the Japanese teahouse, at the back of the temple grounds and up a hill is a large, old Western-style house that’s been converted into a cafe called Ishigama Garden Terrace. It serves afternoon tea in addition to fresh bread and other goodies, and overlooks a gorgeous, flower-filled garden.
Pilgrimages: Kamakura Thirty-Three Kannon pilgrimage (Those needing a stamp in their goshuincho should hand over their stamp book and make their request at the ticket gate.)