Kannon-sama Pilgrimage: Jochi-ji and Tokei-ji

At the end of the Daibutsu-Kuzuharaoka hiking trail, in Kita-Kamakura, sits Jochi-ji, temple number 31 of the Kamakura Thirty-Three Kannon Pilgrimage. Not far down the road is Tokei-ji, temple number 32.

In Japan, Thirty-Three Kannon pilgrimages are fairly common. According to Kamakura City’s webpage on its Kannon-sama pilgrimage, the first Thirty-Three Kannon pilgrimage — the Saigoku Sanju-San Sho — was established in the 12th century in the Kansai area, followed by the Bando Sanju-San Sho pilgrimage in the Kanto area in the 13th century. (NB – other sources suggest these pilgrimage routes were established many centuries earlier.) From there, Thirty-Three Kannon pilgrimages took off, spreading around the country.

Why 33? Religious texts say that there are 33 manifestations of Kannon, so apparently, that’s why there are usually (but not always!) 33 stops on Japan’s Kannon pilgrimages.

The Kamakura pilgrimage doesn’t include all 33 manifestations, however — it’s just 33 important temples dedicated to Kannon-sama. I’m working my way around Kamakura, collecting stamps for the pilgrimage. This video is the second in what I hope will be a series to introduce the pilgrimage — as well as the city in general — to those outside of Kamakura.

Fall in Kamakura: Hokoku-ji

Also known as Take-dera, meaning bamboo temple, Hokoku-ji was founded in 1334. It’s a bit of a hike from Kamakura station, but if you love bamboo groves, it’s a must. The main grounds are open for free wandering, but entrance to the bamboo grove requires payment of a small fee, as does a ticket for a cup of matcha. Though the bamboo stays green year-round, the rest of the landscape turns brilliant gold (ginko), vibrant red and sunset orange (Japanese maple).

As it’s surrounded by a number of other temples—including Kamakura’s purported oldest temple, Sugimoto-dera—the trip out easily becomes one filled with easy temple-hopping.

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