Enno-ji Temple (円応寺), officially known as Araizan Ennōji (新居山円応寺), belongs to the Kenchō-ji School of the Rinzai Sect. It is located in Kita-Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, The temple is famous for its magnificent wooden statue of Enma (閻魔), the King of the Underworld.

The stairs leading up to Ennō-ji. It is located just across Kencho-ji.

According to the temples annals, Ennō-ji was founded in 1250 under the priest Soden Dōkai (桑田道海), a fact that is contested by some historians. Soden, also known as Zen master Chikaku, died in 1309, some sixty years after the establishment of the temple. Initially called Hōzō-in, it was situated near the seashore close to Zaimokuza Beach. When the temple was destroyed by a tsunami in 1703, the structure was moved to its present side and renamed Ennō-ji (Arai no Enmadō).

The belltower of Ennō-ji.

In its main hall, Ennō-ji enshrines a statue of Enma, said to be carved by the celebrated sculptor Unkei (運慶, c. 1150-1223). Enma, King Enma (閻魔王 Enma-ō), and Great King Enma (閻魔大王 Enma Dai-Ō) presides over the Buddhist purgatory and oversees the Ten Kings of Hell (十王 Jū-ō). The hall preserves twelve statues, Enma's towering sculpture, as well as the Ten Yama Kings and a figurine of Jizō Bosatsu.

Enma, the King of the Netherworld.

The Ten Kings have their roots in Chinese Buddhism: Buddhist memorial and ancestral rites described seven rituals the descendants of a deceased had to perform during the first forty-nine days after death (forty-nine is the number of days needed for rebirth). These rites are meant to help the deceased escape punishment in hell and be reborn in heavenly realms. These rituals had to be performed for each of the Ten Kings so that they were able to plead for the deceased and attain a favourable outcome of their judgement.

A statue of Datsueba (奪衣婆), the "Old Hag of Hell"; the wandering souls meet her fourteen days after their death. She waits sitting at the other side of the Sanzu River that leads into the underworld and robs them of their clothes.

Each of the Ten Kings is invoked at a particular stage of the judgement:
  • Shinkō-ō (秦広王) on the seventh day (first week); judging sinners who have committed murder.
  • Shokō-ō (初江王) on the fourteenth day (second week); judging thieves.
  • Sōtei-ō (宋帝王) on the twenty-first day (third week); judging adulterers.
  • Gokan-ō (五官王) on the twenty-eighth day (fourth week); judging liers, drinkers, the avaricious, jealous and greedy.
  • Enma-ō (閻魔王) on the thirty-fifth day (fifth week); decides which realm of rebirth the wandering soul will move on to: to Hell (地獄 jigoku), the Hell of the Hungry Ghosts (餓鬼 gaki), the Realm of the Beasts (畜生 chikushō), the World of Fury (阿修羅 ashura), to human existence, or to Heaven (極楽 gokuraku).
  • Henjyō-ō (変成王) on the forty-second day (sixth week); decides the details of the soul's next life.
  • Taizan-ō (泰山王) on the forty-ninth day (seventh week); decides the period the deceased will spend in their next life.
  • Byōdō-ō (平等王) on the hundredth day.
  • Toshi-ō (都市王) after one year.
  • Gotōtenrin-ō (五道転輪王) after three years.
According to Buddhist tradition, the soul keeps wandering where they used to live for the first forty-nine days. On the forty-ninth day, however, it receives the judgement, and on the fiftieth day, it enters the realm of rebirth. Those sent to jigoku, gaki, chikushō, and ashura can still transmigrate to Heaven at a later stage, if they stay pious and have memorial services after hundred days, one year, and three years.

Shinkō-ō (秦広王), the first king of the underworld.

Sōtei-ō (宋帝王), the third king of the underworld.

Enma-ō (閻魔王), the fifth king of the underworld.

The wooden statue of Enma measures some 190 centimetres in height. In 1673, a contemporary artist was entrusted with repairing the statue and found an old document embedded within its body, stating that Enma was carved in 1250 by Unkei and renovated in 1520 by a renowned sculptor by the name of Jōen (定円). It was again repaired after extensive damages sustained in the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923: while Enma's head dates back to the Kamakura Period, the rest of its body was recreated in the Edo period (1600-1867).

Henjyō-ō (変成王), the sixth king of the underworld.

Taizan-ō (泰山王), the seventh king of the underworld.

Gotōtenrin-ō (五道転輪王), the tenth king of the underworld.

On the very left of the main hall a sitting statue of Jizō Bosatsu, acting as a defendant of those upon whom the Ten Kings will render judgement.

A statue of Soden Dōkai, the founding priest.

The interior of the Main Hall with its twelve statues.

The old bell of Ennō-ji.



  • Baldessari, Francesco, Kamakura: A Historical Guide, 2016
  • Mutsu, Iso, Kamakura: Fact and Legend, Tuttle 2012


A 5-minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station (JR Yokosuka Line, Shōnan–Shinjuku Line).
Address: 1543 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa 247-0062; phone: 0467-25-1095.
Admission: open daily 09:00-16:00 (March-November), 09:00-15:30 (December- February); adults 200 JPY, children 100 JPY.