Asahina Kiridoshi

Discover Kamakura’s Seven Passes

One of the key features the KCP program offers is the Japanese cultural immersion through lectures and organized excursions to some of the most notable places and events in Japan. Students visit relevant sites in Tokyo as well as other places around the country such as Kamakura.

KCP Spring 2019 students in Kamakura, Japan.

KCP Spring 2019 students in Kamakura, Japan.

Historical Kamakura

Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture is a historical, peaceful coastal town about an hour from Tokyo. Minamoto Yorimoto (1147–1199) was the founder and first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate. Japan’s seat of military government was based in Kamakura; rule continued for more than a century under the Minamoto shogun and then by the Hōjō regents. Kamakura’s beautiful cultural assets are popular among visitors today.

Kamakura’s seven entrances

Kiridoshi is the Japanese word that refers to a pass made by cutting out a portion of a mountain or a hill.  The passes are deliberately narrow in places and fortified so that they can be easily barricaded when threatened by enemy forces. Several similar passes closed of by steep hills and the sea can be found in Kamakura.

The Nagoe Pass between Zushi and Kamakura, Japan, linked Kamakura to the Miura Peninsula.

The Nagoe Pass between Zushi and Kamakura, Japan, linked Kamakura to the Miura Peninsula | Tarourashima

Kamakura grew to become a popular destination for travelers in the 17th century. The only way for visitors to gain access to the capital during the Kamakura period was through the seven passes that were the entryways to the city. The contemporary Japanese guidebooks began to refer to the city as the Kamakura Nanakuchi or the Seven Entrances of Kamakura.

Asahina Kiridoshi

Asahina Kiridoshi

The Nanakuchi is comprised of Asahina Kiridoshi, Kewaizaka, Gokurakuji-zaka Kiridoshi, Nagoe Kiridoshin, Daibutsu Kiridoshi, Kobukurozaka, and Kamegayatsu-saka. Among the seven passes, two have been maintained for modern day use, namely Gokurakuji-zaka and Kobukurozaka. The Daibutsu Kiridoshi was reconstructed from the 19th century. The rest of the passes remain just as they have been since the middle ages. The moss-covered rocks, undergrowth, and trees on the passes seem as if nature was responsible for the pathways. History tells us otherwise and by looking closer, there are noticeable traces of cutting from a time long ago.