Kanazawa Bunko, A Samurai's Library

One of the two oldest samurai libraries near Kamakura

By Takako Sakamoto    - 2 min read

Located in the suburb of Kamakura, Kanazawa Bunko, currently one of Kanagawa's Prefectural museums, is presumed to be the oldest library established by and for samurai in the 13th century.

Kanazawa Bunko (文庫:bunko means library) was created as a private family library in 1275 by Hojo Sanetoki, who was the grandson of the second regent of the Kamakura Shogunate (the first samurai government in Japan). The library housed a variety of precious Chinese and Japanese books of the time, but when the Kamakura Shogunate was destroyed, the Hojo clan fell as well, and most of the library's collections were either taken away or stolen.

Later in 1897, it was restored by the powerful politicians of the Meiji government, but the Great Kanto Earthquake destroyed it again in 1923. It was rebuilt in 1930 as the Kanagawa Prefectural Library, then in 1955 became the Prefectural Medieval History Museum. After such a turbulent and dramatic history, it now houses ancient documents, paintings, Buddha statues, etc., which include a number of important cultural properties of Japan. It stands on the precincts of Shomouji Temple, and is walking distance (12 min) from Kanazawa Bunko station on the Keihin Kyuko Line.

Was this article helpful?

Suggest an edit

Takako Sakamoto

Takako Sakamoto @takako.sakamoto

I was born in and grew up in Tokushima prefecture, and have lived in many places since then: Nishinomiya, Kyoto, Nara, Mie, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Fukuoka and Fukui. I am currently living in Yokohama City. All the places I lived, all the places I visited, I have loved dearly. The historical places where people lived, loved, suffered, and fought - places where I can still hear their heartbeats - mesmerize me. I'd like to retrace the footsteps of the people who lived in Japan a long long time ago, and introduce to you what they left behind on this soil.