Hello and Osu!
If you answer the next two questions with “yes”, this article may be for you.
- Are you an enthusiastic Karate-Ka?
- Are you currently in or plan to visit Tokyo?
Visit the father of (Shōtōkan) Karate
Now, since you are a passionate Karate-ka who resides now (or soon) in Japan’s capital city, my recommendation to you is to start out on a mini pilgrimage.
Why? After a train ride of about 60-90 minutes you will be rewarded with a martial arts treasure, located in Engakuji temple, not far from the pacific ocean:
The memorial of Gichin Funakoshi, founding father of modern Karate
Note, this is not Funakoshi sensei’s grave, it is a site created in his honour.
To save you from tedious online research, here is how you get there:
Step 1: Take Yokosuka or Shonan-Shinjuku Line to Kita-Kamakura station (not Kamakura, Kita-Kamakura)! Click here to see the route on Google Maps.
Step 2: Leave the station in direction of the train through the left exit. Turn right and walk parallel to the rail tracks towards the railway crossing (about 30 meters or so).
Step 3: Turn left and walk up the stairs to Enkaku-Ji (Temple) entrance
Step 4: Pay 200 Yen entrance fee, proceed 50m forward then climb the next few stairs as shown below:
Step 5: Be impressed by the big wooden “Mountain Gate” (San-Mon) and then keep left:
Step 6: Walk a few metres and you will reach the memorial (on the left). Voilà!
Simple can be complicated
It is that simple if you know how and where to go. The reason for me to prepare this little guide is that I struggled quite a lot finding the memorial. There were a few hints here and there online and some misleading info. As I was walking around the temple compound on a rainy and very cold day in March 2017 I just couldn’t spot the memorial anywhere as I didn’t really know what to look for and where. One Karate website had even confused me further by stating they had to walk for hours through the muddy jungle and endure killer bees before finally reaching their destination…
During that shitty day, having also forgotten to take some water with me, I was definetely not prepared for a steep mountain trail. And, where the hell would that path start? So, I eventually ended up being frustrated and wanted to head back to Tokyo. Nevertheless, I decided to enjoy the place a little longer WITHOUT seeking the Karate site anymore. Then when I stopped at some place and looked around I thought – “hey wait a second, is this not…yes it is!”
At this moment I decided to help my fellow martial arts friends around the world with this litte guide. Please let me know if you found it helpful or have any ideas for improvement.
Official Website of Engaku-ji (Japanese): http://www.engakuji.or.jp/
Address: Japan, 〒247-0247 Kanagawa Prefecture, Kamakura, Yamanouchi, 409
GPS Location of Funakoshi Memorial: N 35° 20.265‘ / E 139° 32.827‘
Gichin Funakoshi on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gichin_Funakoshi
Be safe and have fun,