Kanazawa Bunko (金沢文庫), also known as the Kanesawa (or Kanezawa) Bunko, is a library located in Kanazawa-chō, Kanazawa-ku, in the city of Yokohama. Along with Ashikaga Gakkō library, it was one of the two most important centres of learning in medieval Japan. Nowadays, it is a private museum that features a collection of traditional Japanese and Chinese art objects open to the general public.


Kanezawa Sanetoki (金沢実時), also called Hōjō Sanetoki (北条実時, 1224-1276) was the founder of the Kanazawa Bunko (Kanazawa Library). He was a member of the Kanezawa branch of the Hōjō clan.


The library was opened in 1275 by Hōjō Sanetoki (北条実時, also known as Kanezawa [or Kanesawa] Sanetoki, 金沢実時 1224-1276), a grandson of Hōjō Yoshitoki, the second regent (執権 shikken) of the Kamakura shogunate (1192-1333). From his earliest days, Sanetoki was eager to acquire knowledge and aspired to collect all existing books in Chinese and Japanese. He succeeded in establishing a vast collection of classics, histories, poetry, essays, novels as well as medical and astrological texts that was unparalleled in Japan. He housed the collection in his villa at Kanesawa (modern-day Yokohama). The library was enlarged by his son Hōjō (Kanezawa) Akitoki (北条秋時, 1248-1301) and grandson Kanezawa Sadaaki (金沢貞顕, 1278-1333). Sanetoki's great-grandson Kanezawa Sadamasa (died 1333) left the area to serve as a shogunal deputy in Kyōto (六波罗探题 rokuhara tandai) and allowed the library to decline.

The collection was open to the members of the Kanezawa family, scholars, and priests, but books did not circulate. The library included an office, a reading room, and a stack area containing some 20,000 ancient books, 7,000 manuscripts, and many other articles valuable to scholarship. Among its holdings are the Taishō Issaikyō (Complete Collection of the Buddhist Scriptures) copied in the Liu-Song (Sung) period (420-479 CE) in China, an 11-headed Kannon (Goddess of Mercy), a Sakyamuni, a Miroku Bosatsu (弥勒菩薩), and other Buddhist images designated as Important Cultural Properties, and the manuscript of Tsurezuregusa (徒然草, Essays in Idleness) by the essayist Yoshida Kenkō (吉田兼好, 1284 – 1350), who was one of the many regular users of the library, as well as Kamakura portraits and calligraphy. The Hōjō paintings are designated National Treasures.

For a period the library was called Shōmyōji Bunko, after a nearby temple that maintained it and housed portions of the collection. Some of the valuable holdings were lost or scattered to other libraries after the fall of the Kamakura shogunate and the destruction of the Hōjō family in 1333. In 1601, Tokugawa Ieyasu moved a portion of the collection to his Fujimitei library (now the Imperial Household Library) in Edo Castle, Maeda Tsunanori and other Tokugawa vassals acquired some of the Japanese books, but the lion's share of the Buddhist texts remained at the Shōmyōji (称名寺). Kanagawa Prefecture renovated the library in 1930, but the collection is now housed in a new building in the temple precincts constructed in 1990 and is administered by the Kanagawa prefectural government.

Access and admission

Address: 〒236-0015 Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Kanazawa-ku, 142 Kanazawachō, 神奈川県横浜市金沢区金沢町142
Opening hours: weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays: 9:00-16:30 (entry until 16:00); closed Mondays, the day after public holidays and during the New Year holidays (Dec. 29-Jan. 3)
Admission: 250 JPY (for the permanent exhibition)
Access: from JR Yokohama Sta via Keikyū Main Line Line (Rapid Express) to Kanazawa-Bunko Sta. (16 min.); 12-minute walk from the station.



Entrance to Shōmyōji


Karamon (唐門)


Shōmyōji Temple at Kanazawa Bunko


Honden (main hall) of Shōmyōji Temple


Reflection pond at the Shōmyōji


Buddhist stelae in the park of Kanazawa Bunko


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