|“||Kindness should become the natural way of life, not the exception.||”|
–Buddha, with words for our world and Elfen Lied, represented by the statue of Amida Buddha in Kamakura
In real life
Kamakura was the capital of Japan during the Kamakura Period of Japanese history from 1192 to 1333 AD. During this time, it was considered the de facto seat of the Kamakura Shogunate and the Regency. The city's name appears in the Kojiki of 712, as well as the 8th-century Man'yoshu and Wamyo Ruijisho of 938, but the city itself was not officially established until it was founded by Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1192 when he established the Kamakura Shogunate. However, some historians believe the groundwork for not only the city but the shogunate were laid earlier, such as in 1179 when Minamoto no Yoritomo married Hojo Masako, or in 1180 when he entered the Kamakura area and began building his residence in Okura.
In 1199, Yoritomo, then 51 years old, died after falling from his horse and was succeeded by his son Minamoto no Yoriie, who was under the regency of his maternal grandfather Hojo Tokimasa. After bitter succession battles, Yoriie became the head of the Minamoto clan and was appointed shogun in 1202, but the real control had fallen into the Hojo clan's hands. After attempting to regain power, Yoriie was assassinated on July 17th, 1204. From then on until the shogunate's end, the Hojo clan held power in Kamakura.
On July 3rd, 1333, Nitta Yoshisada attacked Kamakura to reestablish imperial rule. When they couldn't enter the city through Kewaizaka Pass or Gokuraku-ji Pass, they entered through the Inamuragasaki Cape. Once they made landfall, they took the city, sacking it and burning temples along the way. Nearly 900 samurais of the Hojo clan committed suicide in their family temple of Tosho-ji following the attack, and many citizens took after the Hojo and claimed their lives, leaving an estimated total of 6000 people dead. In 1953, 556 skeletons were found during excavation digs near Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu's Ichi no Torii in Yuigahama. These people were determined to have died violent deaths, most likely at the hands of Nitta Yoshisada's forces as they infiltrated Kamakura.
In modern times, Kamakura was officially designated as a city on November 2, 1939. The current city area is believed to be smaller than it was at the time of the shogunate, and today, the city's total area is 39.6 square kilometers (15.29 square miles). In 1250, Kamakura was the 4th largest city in the world, boasting a population of 200,000 people. As of 2012, the city has an estimated population of 174,412 people.
Kamakura possesses and has access to many tourist attractions, from Yuigahama to Enoshima Island to the many Shinto and Buddhist shrines dotting the cityscape.
In the series
The city and its immediate environs are the central locations for most events in the Elfen Lied series, including the Kaede-Sou, or the Maple House. It is the probable birthplace of Lucy as well as possibly Yuka, Mayu, Nozomi, and eventually, where Kouta settles down and has a family. It contained the orphanage where Lucy suffered and first felt the sharp sting of betrayal.
It is where she and Kouta met, first as young children and the second time as young adults. The beach is where she (as the amnesiac Nyu) and Nana both arrived after leaving/escaping the Diclonius Research Institute located on an island somewhere off the shore. A set of stone stairwells with a stunning ocean view lead to temples, cemeteries, and shrines. The beach and the Enoshima Park (attached to the city known as Fujisawa) area right by it are also the scenes for memorable confrontations between Lucy, Bando, Mariko and the Unknown Man. The seaside has many seasonal merchants who do a brisk business during peak times. It is directly over Kamakura that Chief Kakuzawa detonates a missile laden with the Diclonius birth virus, and a lighthouse built there is the site of Lucy's last stand against government forces. Kamakura is noted for its festivals, much like the one where a broken-hearted Lucy went on a rampage when it seemed like Kouta had betrayed her. It seems likely that the Kakuzawa family originated in Kamakura as well. The series does not always make it entirely clear which actions on the beachfront occur in Kamakura proper and which occur in the island resort of nearby Enoshima Park. Gokurakuji Train Station is one of the points the series begins at when Kouta arrives, and it is a pivot point in the flashback when his family leaves from there to go back to Hokkaido, unaware that Kaede is waiting for them on board.
As with many aspects of the series, certain elements about just where the events in the series take place in the areas in and around Kamakura is left a bit vague and open to interpretation. Some 'shore towns' in America have multiple and overlapping jurisdictions within areas by a beach. Whether this is the case for Japan in general or Kamakura, in particular, is not known.
- The Kamakura area is also one of many places where Japan's beautiful Red Maple Trees dot the landscape. Other anime use this picturesque area as their base, including the series, Umisho.
- A tourist's look at the area vis-a-vis the anime is found here.