The Great Buddha, Kamakura’s Most Famous Sight

The bronze statue of Amida Buddha (amitabha) stands at 11.3 metres tall, weighs 850-tonnes and is officially designated as a National Treasure of Japan. The statue, which stands in Kotoku-in (a buddhist temple of the Jodu-shu sect), was cast in 1252 and it is said that it was once covered with gold. The statue was originally housed in a large hall, which was washed away by a tsunami in 1495 and today Daibutsu (the Great Buddha) stands in the open.

The statue is said to have been inspired by Yorimoto’s visit to Nara, home to Japan’s biggest Daibutsu. The proportions are distorted and it seems balanced to the front, which is thought to show a Greek influence.

Daibutsu has survived tidal waves, fires, earthquakes and typhoons and now has shock absorbers in its base. Visitors can visit the inside of the statue (for an additional cost of 20 yen), to see how the sculptors pieced the Great Buddha together.

Within the temple grounds visitors can also see Kangetsudo (Moon Viewing Hall), which is decorated in red and blue, the Korean royal colours. The hall was formerly located in the royal palace of the Jose dynasty in Seoul and was donated to Kotoku-in in 1924. This temple houses a wooden Kannon statue, which is said to have been made in the late Edo period, and is designated as the 23rd sacred place of the Kannon.

Daibutsu is located within walking distance (Daibutsu hiking course) from the train station but can also be reached by bus (Daibutsu-mae stop) or by elecric railway from Kamakura Station (Enoden Enoshima line to Hase Station).

Opening hours: Apr – Sept from 8:00 to 17:30 and Oct – Mar from 8:00 to 17:00. Admission: 200 yen.

SOURCES:

  • Practical Travel Guide – 207: Hakone and Kamakura
  • Lonely Planet: Japan
  • DK Eyewitness Travel: Japan

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The Great Buddha, Kamakura’s Most Famous Sight

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