Over 600 years old, Matsugaoka Tōkei-ji Temple holds a unique and vital place in Japan’s cultural and historical landscape. It preserves and promotes Japan’s rich heritage, inspiring visitors with its timeless message of empowerment and renewal. But most importantly, the temple which is also known as a divorce temple holds a unique significance as a sanctuary for women seeking refuge from troubled marriages during feudal Japan.
History Of This Divorce Temple In Japan
Visited Tokei-ji. The temple had long been known as a shelter for women. In the era when wives could not claim a petition for divorce and needed a letter of divorce from their husbands, the temple functioned as an asylum for women who sought a divorce.#Kamakura pic.twitter.com/bjRi3d2kl4
— Hajime Kimura (@hajime_kimura) December 10, 2021
Founded in 1285 by Kakusan Shido-ni, a Buddhist nun, this temple is a Buddhist temple. It was initially established as a convent to provide spiritual guidance and support for women in need. Located in the city of Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, it gained prominence for its role in granting divorces to women who sought to escape abusive or unhappy marriages.
During the Edo period, divorces were often challenging to obtain, particularly for women. Tokeiji Temple became a refuge for those who sought liberation from oppressive unions, offering them a chance to start afresh. It also houses a museum that showcases various artefacts, documents, and historical accounts related to the temple’s history. Visitors can explore the exhibits to gain a deeper understanding of the temple’s significance and its role in empowering women during feudal times.
Beyond its historical and cultural importance, it serves as an active Buddhist temple, hosting religious ceremonies, meditation sessions, and retreats. The temple’s resident monks and nuns provide spiritual guidance to those seeking solace and enlightenment.
The Temple Makes For Unique Architecture
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The temple’s serene setting, nestled amidst lush greenery and blossoming cherry trees, adds to its allure. The architecture reflects the Zen influence prevalent in the region’s religious structures, with elegant wooden structures and intricate carvings adorning the buildings.
Visitors are greeted by a stone path leading to the main gate, known as the Sanmon gate, which opens up to a spacious courtyard.
One of the main attractions of Tokeiji Temple is the Amida-do Hall, a prayer hall dedicated to the Amida Buddha. Inside, visitors can find beautifully crafted statues and artwork, including the main statue of Amida Buddha. The hall exudes a sense of tranquillity, providing a space for contemplation and meditation.
Visitors to Tokeiji Temple can participate in various activities to engage with the temple’s traditions. Additionally, visitors can participate in tea ceremonies, calligraphy workshops, and sutra copying, immersing themselves in the rich cultural practices of Japan.
So, is this Divorce Temple in Japan on your bucket list?
Cover image credits: Wikimedia Commons