Kamakura And The Great Buddha

The Great Buddha of Kamakura, a huge outdoor bronze statue that is one of Japan’s most recognized symbols, is one of the temple’s most notable features. It is also a recognized National Treasure and is proposed for acceptance into UNESCO’s World Heritage site list.

The Great Buddha (Daibutsu) on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple in Kamakura

Ktoku-in is a Temple complex in Kamakura, Kanagawa Province, Japan, dedicated to the Jdo-sh sect. Taiizan is the name of the mountain, while Shjsen-ji  is the name of the temple

Kotoku-in temple entrance gate, Great Buddha of Kamakura

On the temple grounds stands the Great Buddha of Kamakura  Kamakura Daibutsu a huge bronze statue. It stands (43.8 feet) tall and weighs around 93 tons, weight including the base is 103 tons.   The statue, per the temple records, comes from 1252, during the Kamakura era, after which it was named.

The monument isn’t solid, and tourists are welcome to look inside. Graffiti has been left on the interior of the monument by several people.  There were formerly thirty-two bronze lotus leaves at the foundation of the monument, but only four survive, but they’ve since been removed.

Statue and Temple Grounds On-Site Map

At the entrance to the grounds, there is a sign that reads, “Stranger, whatever thou art and whatever thy religion, remember that when thou enterest this sanctuary, thou treadest on land consecrated by centuries of worship. This is the Buddha’s Temple and the Gate of the Eternal, and it should be treated with respect.

Great Buddha of Kamakura

Interesting measurements below show the enormity of the statue:

121-tonne weight (267,000 pounds) 
13.35 meters in height (43.8 ft)
Face length: 2.35 meters (7 ft 9 in)
Eye length: 1.0 meter (3 ft 3 in)
Mouth length: 0.82 meters (2 ft 8 in)
Ear length: 1.90 meters (6 ft 3 in)
Knee-to-knee length: 9.10 meters (29.9 ft)
Thumb circumference: 0.85 meters (2 ft 9 in)

The statue’s base was damaged by the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923, but it was restored in 1925. The monument was repaired in the early 1960s when the neck was reinforced and earthquake-proofing measures were implemented.

The statue underwent more investigation, repair, and preservation work in early 2016. 

Spring Crowds at the Great Buddha Complex

A storm demolished the hall in 1334, but it was reconstructed, subsequently damaged with another typhoon in 1369, and rebuilt once more.  During the Muromachi era, the final structure that housed the monument was destroyed by a tsunami caused by the Nankai earthquake in 1498.

The Great Buddha has been in an open-air courtyard since then.

The existing bronze statue was predated by a colossal wooden Buddha, which was finished in 1243 after ten years of intense hard work, with finances provided by Lady Inada no Tsubone and a Buddhist monk.

After the wooden monument was destroyed by a storm in 1248, and the hall in which it was housed was demolished, Monks proposed that a new statue be made of bronze, and the massive sum of money required for this, as well as a new building, was raised for the project.  

The bronze figure was most likely cast by no Goremon or Tanji Hisatomo, two of Japan’s most renowned bronze casters during this period.   The statue was plated at one point in gold leaf.

The Great Buddha complex is a short walk from Hase Station (about 6-7 minutes), which would be the third station along the Enoden railway route from Kamakura.

The Enoden is a type of streetcar that runs between Kamakura and Enoshima and Fujisawa. Its Kamakura terminal station is just adjacent to JR Kamakura Station.

The Great Buddha of Kamakura and Kotoku-in Temple
Online Websitehttps://www.kotoku-in.jp/en/
Physical Address4-2-28 Hase, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa
Getting ThereApproximately 5-7 minute walk from Hase Station on the Enoshima Electric Railway
Take Enoshima-dentetsu Bus or the Keikyu Bus and exit at the Daibutsu-mae bus stop
Hours of OperationApril to September: 8:00 to 5:30
October to March: 8:00 to 5:00
No admittance after 15 minutes before close
Contact Via PhoneTEL: 0467-22-0703
Admission RatesAdults, high school and junior high school students: 300 yen
Elementary school students: 150 yen
The Great Buddha at sunset

The Daibutsu of Kamakura is Japan’s second-biggest colossal Buddha (only the Nara Daibutsu is larger). Visitors may step inside the sacred monument for a modest contribution and observe how it was cast from within. This one-of-a-kind experience assures that a visit to Kamakura’s Daibutsu is one to remember.

Truly a once in a lifetime encounter with a fascinating piece of Japans history waiting to be explored.

Inside Great Buddha Daibutsu

Common Q&A:

Why is the Great Buddha of Kamakura important?

Kanagawa Prefecture is the famous Giant Bronze Buddha site and historic landmark, which is also the country’s largest outdoor Buddha, is one of the most frequently visited tourist sites in the Kanto area.

How long did it take to build?

The 45-foot monument took 38 years to construct and was designed to survive major earthquakes and storms.

How does one greet the Buddha statue?

Saying “Namo Buddhaya” is perhaps the most universal way (“A bow to the Buddha”). Buddhists from the Pure Land Sect may prefer to pronounce “Namo ‘Mitabhaya” (“A bow to Amitabha”). You may also say “hello” in your native tongue.

What does the Great Buddha of Kamakura represent?

The great Buddha of Kamakura (Daibutsu) symbolizes the Amida Buddha (Amida Nyorai in Japanese), the Buddha of Infinite Light, and the primary Deity of the Buddhist sect Jodo (Pure Land). 

Trip Advisors Hotels Near The Great Buddha of Kamakura

Other attractions and things to do near the site:

Kamakura Museum of Literature

Amanawa Shimmei Shrine

Hase-dera Temple

Former Residence of Yasunari Kawabata

Daibutsukiritoshi Hiking Trail

Shop Tabi-ji Kamakura Hase (shopping and specialty gifts)

My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.