Tiny Ennō-ji is distinguished by its statues depicting the judges of hell. According to the Juo concept of Taoism, which was introduced to Japan from China during the Heian period (794–1185), these 10 judges decide the fate of souls, who, being neither truly good nor truly evil, must be assigned to spend eternity in either heaven or hell. Presiding over them is Emma (Yama), a Hindu deity known as the gruesome king of the infernal regions.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Kamakura attractions

1. Kenchō-ji

0.19 MILES

Established in 1253, Japan's oldest Zen monastery is still active today. The central Butsuden (Buddha Hall) was brought piece by piece from Tokyo in 1647…

2. Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū

0.32 MILES

Kamakura's most important shrine is, naturally, dedicated to Hachiman, the god of war. Minamoto no Yoritomo himself ordered its construction in 1191 and…

3. Kamakura National Treasure Museum

0.41 MILES

This museum displays an excellent collection of Kamakura religious art and statuary. Some are the typically peaceful Jizō (Buddhist patron of travellers,…

4. Jōchi-ji

0.45 MILES

Founded in 1283 by Hojo Morotoki, Jōchi-ji is the fourth of Kamakura’s five great Zen temples. The main gate’s bell, on the second floor of the bell tower…

5. Tōkei-ji

0.57 MILES

Across the railway tracks from Engaku-ji, Tōkei-ji is famed as having served as a women's refuge. A woman could be officially recognised as divorced after…

6. Engaku-ji

0.63 MILES

Engaku-ji is one of Kamakura's five major Rinzai Zen temples. It was founded in 1282 for Zen monks to pray for soldiers who lost their lives defending…

7. Zeniarai-benten

0.67 MILES

One of Kamakura's most alluring Shintō shrines, which you can enter via tunnel or a trail above; it's located along the Daibutsu hiking trail. Washing…

8. Kamakura-gū

0.81 MILES

This shrine was built in 1869 on the order of Emperor Meiji to enshrine the spirit of Prince Morinaga, who was imprisoned and executed at this location in…