The Great Buddha of Kamakura
I am writing a series of articles on various holy sites such as Mount Wutai in China, the Temple of the Tooth in the city of Kandi, Sri Lanka and several holy places in India such as Bodhgaya, Lumbini, Varanasi and Kushinagar. The objective of writing these articles is to provide information and inspire readers to visit those important religious sites which are well known places of pilgrimage.
A particular place can be considered holy when at least one of the following criteria is met:
- Someone had engaged in intensive meditation to generate higher insight and state of mind (e.g., love, compassion and bodhicitta) in the area and therefore infused positive energy into the place.
- Someone had a pure vision of a holy being (for example, a Buddha, a Mahasiddha, daka or dakini) and/or received teachings from the holy being(s) in the area. This would have imbued the place with the energy and blessings of the holy beings and/or teachings.
- A place where holy beings abide or where supernatural beings engaged in virtuous activities, which blessed the place with positive energies.
- The place was blessed or consecrated by a highly realised being who invited the enlightened beings to reside there.
When visiting places that have been blessed, visitors can feel a sense of peace, happiness, healing and well-being from the blessed energies of that environment. It can also leave a spiritual imprint or open up an existing positive imprint in the minds of visitors or pilgrims, which can help spur them on their spiritual path.
During the process of writing this article, I learnt about the sincere determination of the people who built the Great Buddha of Kamakura in Japan, such as the Lady Inada and the Priest Joko of Totomi. They beat all odds to fulfil Lady Inada’s promise to the late Shogun Minamoto Yoritomo of the Kamakura Shogunate. Lady Inada and Priest Joko of Totomi faced many challenges such as natural disasters and a lack of funding but they persevered and never gave up. I am truly inspired by their effort and determination to achieve their noble goal despite many difficulties.
I hope you will find this instalment of the series on holy places enjoyable and informative. May it serve as an inspiration for you on your spiritual journey.
Kamakura Daibutsu, or The Great Buddha of Kamakura, is a beautiful and graceful bronze statue of Buddha Amitabha, located within the grounds of Kotoku-in Temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Kotoku-in Temple’s official name is Daii-san Kotoku-In Shojosen-ji. This Buddha image has survived several natural disasters including a powerful storm in 1335, an earthquake and tsunami in 1495 and the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. Nevertheless, through extensive maintenance and repair efforts, this beautiful Buddha statue is still standing today. The statue is approximately 13.35 metres tall and weighs around 121 tons.
According to the Kotoku-in temple records, the original Great Buddha of Kamakura was made of wood. It was completed in 1243 during the Kamakura Shogunate period. It took approximately ten years to build the original statue with funds raised by Inada-no-Tsubone, also known as Lady Inada and the Buddhist priest, Joko of Totomi.
Lady Inada and Priest Joko of Totomi were the followers of the Jodo Sect of Buddhism, which was established by Priest Honen (1133 – 1212 CE). Followers of the Jodo sect focus their devotion towards the Buddha Amitabha because they believe that this Buddha will help to liberate all beings regardless of position, age or gender. According to this tradition, one needs to chant, “I take refuge in Buddha Amitabha” or “nenbutsu” in order to receive his protection and be reborn in his paradise.
The Great Buddha of Kamakura inspired Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936 CE), a famous English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist, to write a famous poem called ‘Buddha at Kamakura’ in 1892 following his visit to Japan in 1889-1892.
Buddha at Kamakura (1892)
‘And there is a Japanese idol at Kamakura’
O ye who tread the Narrow Way
By Tophet-flare to Judgement Day,
Be gentle when ‘the heathen’ pray
To Buddha at Kamakura!
To Him the Way, the Law, apart,
Whom Maya held beneath her heart,
Ananda’s Lord, the Bodhisat,
The Buddha of Kamakura.
For though He neither burns nor sees,
Nor hears ye thank your Deities,
Ye have not sinned with such as these,
His children at Kamakura,
Yet spare us still the Western joke
When joss-sticks turn to scented smoke
The little sins of little folk
That worship at Kamakura—
The grey-robed, gay-sashed butterflies
That flit beneath the Master’s eyes.
He is beyond the Mysteries
But loves them at Kamakura.
And whoso will, from Pride released,
Contemning neither creed nor priest,
May feel the Soul of all the East
About him at Kamakura.
Yea, every tale Ananda heard,
Of birth as fish or beast or bird,
While yet in lives the Master stirred,
The warm wind brings Kamakura.
Till drowsy eyelids seem to see
A-flower ’neath her golden htee
The Shwe-Dagon flare easterly
From Burma to Kamakura,
And down the loaded air there comes
The thunder of Thibetan drums,
And droned—‘Om mane padme hum’s’
A world’s-width from Kamakura.
Yet Brahmans rule Benares still,
Buddh-Gaya’s ruins pit the hill,
And beef-fed zealots threaten ill
To Buddha and Kamakura.
A tourist-show, a legend told,
A rusting bulk of bronze and gold,
So much, and scarce so much, ye hold
The meaning of Kamakura?
But when the morning prayer is prayed,
Think, ere ye pass to strife and trade,
Is God in human image made
No nearer than Kamakura
Rudyard Kipling (1892)
In 1195, Shogun Minamoto Yoritomo (1147 – 1199 CE), the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate (1185 – 1333 CE), and his wife, Hojo Masako (1156 – 1225 CE) participated in the reconstruction of the Great Buddha Statue of Todaiji. Upon seeing the monumental Buddha statue, Shogun Minamoto Yoritomo developed a wish to build an equally colossal Buddha statue to promote his region, Kamakura. Unfortunately, he passed away four years later in 1199 before he had the opportunity to fulfil his ambition.
After Shogun Minamoto Yoritomo’s passing, one of his court ladies by the name of Inada no Tsubone (Lady Inada) made the pledge to fulfil Shogun Minamoto Yoritomo’s wishes to build a monumental Buddha statue in Kamakura. Upon obtaining authorisation from the Shogun’s widow, Hojo Masako, Lady Inada and a Buddhist Priest by the name of Joko of Totomi embarked on the project to build the Buddha Amitabha statue. Unfortunately, in terms of funding, Lady Inada did not get much support from the Shogunate because at that time, the Kamakura Shogunate was controlled by the Hojo regents. During this period in history, the Buddha Amitabha was associated with the Jodo Sect. As the regents preferred the Zen tradition, they did not give her aid in this project. In addition, the fifth Hojo Regent at the time, Hojo Tokiyori (1227 – 1263 CE), had pledged to build Kenchoji, a Zen temple. Kenchoji temple survives to this day and is considered the oldest Zen training monasteries in Japan.
The failure to receive donations from the Kamakura Shogunate did not cause Lady Inada and Priest Joko of Totomi to abandon their wish to build the Great Buddha of Kamakura. Priest Joko of Totomi, at the request of Lady Inada, then embarked on a challenging fund-raising journey as a mendicant priest and was successful in gathering sufficient funds to build the statue.
Priest Joko of Totomi and Lady Inada strategically selected the western part of Kamakura, on Kotoku-in Temple grounds, to build the Buddha statue, thereby embracing the Jodo Sect’s belief that Buddha Amitabha resides in a western pure land. The name of this pure land is Sukhavati, or the Land of Pure Joy.
The first Great Buddha of Kamakura was made of wood, not bronze like the current day statue. Nevertheless it was still colossal as the diameter of its head was approximately 24 metres long. The construction of the first Great Buddha of Kamakura and a prayer hall were completed in 1243.
In 1247, four years after its completion, the wooden statue of the Great Buddha of Kamakura was destroyed by a powerful storm. Fortunately, in 1252, Lady Inada and Priest Joko of Totomi managed to raise the necessary funding to construct a new Buddha Amitabha statue. Learning from past experience, Priest Joko of Totomi and Lady Inada decided to build the new Great Buddha of Kamakura using bronze instead of wood. Their decision has proven to be the correct one, as the bronze Buddha they built at that time still stands today. The artists, Hisatomo Tanji and Goro-emon, took more than twelve years to complete the project. The Great Buddha of Kamakura’s construction was fully funded by donations from the Jodo Sect’s adherents and benefactors.
The Great Buddha of Kamakura was initially located inside a large wooden building. However, in 1333, the Kotoku-in Temple in Kamakura became a combat zone between Ashikaga Takauji’s troops and remnants of the Regent Hojo Takatoki’s troops. Originally a general under the Kamakura Shogunate, Ashikaga Takauji had become disillusioned with the leadership of the regents and sought to over throw them instead. During the events at Kotoku-in, nearly 500 of the Regent Hojo’s samurais sought refuge inside the Great Buddha of Kamakura’s wooden hall to protect themselves from a big typhoon in 1335. Unfortunately, the building collapsed and none of the samurais survived.
During his many military campaigns, Ashikaga Takauji conquered Kamakura. It was then that Regent Hojo Takatoki and his clansman committed suicide. This marked the end of the Kamakura Shogunate, and as Ashikaga Takauji took the title of shogun for himself, began the Ashikaga Shogunate period of Japanese history.
In 1495, Kamakura was hit by an earthquake which was followed by a tsunami. The newly reconstructed hall was once again destroyed. Miraculously, the statue of the Great Buddha of Kamakura remained unscathed. The government at the time did not help with the repairs, as the administration had been moved from Kamakura to Kyoto by the newly established Ashikaga Shogunate. As a result, the Great Buddha of Kamakura has been sitting in the open air ever since. It has even endured harsh weather for almost 700 years now.
Over the years the temple grounds became a place where gamblers and the destitute would live. Upon witnessing the neglect and the deterioration of the once grand statue, Priest Yuten Ken’yo (1637 – 1718 CE) from Zojoji, Tokyo, attempted to restore the statue to its former glory. He belonged to one of the seven main temples of the Jodo Sect and devised a grand plan to build a new hall to cover the statue in order to protect it from harsh weather conditions and unwelcome visitors. Unfortunately, the donations he collected in 1712 was only enough to repair the Great Buddha statue, but not enough to build a new hall. However, without his effort, the Great Buddha of Kamakura would not have been preserved to this day. To honour Priest Yuten Ken’yo and the sponsors’ contributions, four round bronze plates, in the shape of lotus petals, with the sponsors’ names carved on them, were constructed behind the Great Buddha of Kamakura.
After the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, the base of the Great Buddha statue was damaged, but it was repaired immediately. In 1960, effort was made to reinforce the neck and the base of the statue in an attempt to toughen the statue in anticipation of another big earthquake. From January – March 2016, further maintenance and restoration work was done to preserve the statue.
About The Great Buddha of Kamakura
The Great Buddha of Kamakura is 13.35 metres (43.8 feet) tall and weighs around 121 tons (267,000 pounds). The detailed dimensions of the statue’s features are as follows:
- Face: 2.35 metres (7ft. 9in.) across
- Eyes: 1 metre (3ft. 3in.) wide each
- Mouth: 0.82 metre (2ft. 8in.) wide
- Ears: 1.90 metres (6ft. 3in.) wide each
The circumference of the knee is 9.10 metres (29.9 ft.) and that of the thumb is 0.85 metre (2ft. 9in.).
The Great Buddha of Kamakura’s style was heavily influenced by the Kei School. This was a popular Japanese Buddhist style of sculpture which flourished during the Kamakura Shogunate period (1192 – 1333 CE). There are also some stylised elements from the Chinese Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 CE).
Iconography of the Great Buddha of Kamakura
The Great Buddha of Kamakura was thoughtfully built to include attributes of an enlightened being.
The Great Buddha of Kamakura possesses a byakugo, also known as an urna in Sanskrit. In stylised forms, such as paintings and statues, this is presented as a round protuberance. In actual fact this a is spiral of clockwise-curled hair located between the eyebrows. Considered auspicious, it is one of the 32 major physical attributes of an enlightened being. It symbolises the third eye, which in itself symbolises divine sight, into the past, present, and future. It is believe that the Buddha Amitabha shines light to all sentient beings from the byakugo in order to bless them.
Blue Compassionate Eyes
The eyes of the Great Buddha of Kamakura are dark blue in colour, a glimpse of which can be seen from below the eyelids. The eyelids themselves are half-closed in peaceful meditation. Referring to the 32 major marks of a Buddha’s physical body, we find that the colour of a Buddha’s eyes (both the iris and the white portions) are clear, bright and distinct. They have no red or yellow marks, but are clean and radiant. This comes about from striving tirelessly to help others overcome their suffering, having generated equanimity for all sentient beings and looking at them with nothing but compassion.
When it was first built, the statue was gilt with gold. Traces of gold can still be seen on the cheeks even today. According to the characteristics of a Buddha’s body, his skin gives out an illuminating golden light as a result of selflessness. Therefore his beautiful and golden skin represents his compassionate nature of never turning away those in need.
The statue’s high and straight nose with inconspicuous nostrils follows the 80 minor marks of Buddha’s body. This represents the realisation of emptiness coupled with the mind of compassionate enlightenment, also known as bodhicitta. The Buddhas are always ready to bestow their help on others, especially in terms of purifying their minds and bodies. This is represented by their noses being clean from all impurities such as mucus.
The Great Buddha of Kamakura’s gentle smile is reminiscent of the loving-kindness and compassion of all the Buddhas, bodhisattvas and highly realised beings. Lafcadio Hearn (1850 – 1904 CE), an international writer known for his books on Japan called the Buddha’s smile the “enchanting smile of the East.” There is also a slight moustache that is typically found in Greek sculpture.
The statue has long ears, equal in length and they are pierced. According to the 80 minor physical characteristics of a Buddha’s body, the ear represent the victory over negative and afflictive emotions. As a Buddha is always ready to help the mind streams of sentient beings, this is represented in a Buddha’s body as perfect hearing, no matter this distance.
Hands and Arms
The statue’s hand gesture, or mudra in Sankrit, is in the meditation position. Compared to the traditional meditation posture, this mudra is slightly different. In the traditional meditation mudra, as in the case of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni who founded Buddhism, one hand rests on top of the other with thumbs touching. This statue’s hands are different, with the backs of the figures pressed together, but the thumbs touching nonetheless. Although it looks different, it is in fact the same meditation mudra commonly found in statues and images of other Buddhas. In this stylised form, it has come to identify the Buddha Amitabha from other Buddhas in the Buddhist pantheon, and is known as ‘Jobon-josho-in’.
According to the physical characteristics of a Buddha, the fingers and toes shine with light. This light even connects each figure or toe with a web of light. This light is the result of speaking kindly to others, helping others to understand the finer points of the Dharma, being generous, and setting a good example to others by following the methods of practising the Dharma.
Interior of the Great Buddha of Kamakura
The inside of the statue clearly shows the advanced technique employed to cast it. The framework design of the Great Buddha’s interior wall was constructed in a sequence of 40 individual castings. This was followed with three variants of the ikarakuri welding method, used to attach the statues parts onto the correct plate of the statue.
The Kotoku-in Temple
In addition to the Great Buddha of Kamakura, there are other things at Kotoku-in Temple that are interesting to view due to their significance and historical value.
Nio-mon Gate is the entrance to the temple and is graced with a pair of temple guardian, or Nio, statues. These wrathful warriors are considered to be emanations of the Bodhisattva Vajrapani, who accompanied and guarded the historical Buddha Shakyamuni from harm. The statue on the right has his mouth open as he speaks the Buddhist syllable ‘A’, while the statue on the left has his mouth closed as he has just finished speaking the syllable ‘Hung’. Together, the pair represent the birth and death of all sentient beings, as the syllable ‘A’ is the first sound in the Sanskrit Devanagari script, while the syllable ‘Hung’ is its last.
Around the Great Buddha of Kamakura, there are cornerstones, which are the remains of the hall that used to enshrine the statue. Originally, there were 60 cornerstones, but today, only 56 cornerstones remain on the temple grounds. All of the cornerstones were made from a type of volcanic rock called pyroxene andesite from Nebukawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. Several of the cornerstones are now used as garden decorations or water basins.
Bronze Lotus Petals
There are four bronze lotus petals which were made during the Edo period (1603 – 1867 CE) with the names of sponsors inscribed on them. Originally, the plan was to make 32 lotus petals to honour the sponsors, but only four petals were ever completed.
The Kangetsu-do Hall is believed to have been transported from Seoul, South Korea. It was part of a Korean royal palace before being acquired by Kisei Sugino (1870 – 1939 CE), the then President of Yamaichi Goshi Kaisha (later Yamaichi Securities Co. Ltd.). Kisei Sugino donated the hall to Kotoku-in Temple in 1924. An image of Chenrezig or Kannon Bosatsu in Japanese, the Buddha of compassion, from the Edo Period is enshrined inside the hall.
Stone Tablets inscribed with Haiku
There are several stone tablets inscribed with poems that can be found on Kotoku-in Temple grounds:
Here in Kamakura,
The sublime Buddha is of another world,
But how like a handsome man he seems,
Adorned with the green of summer.
Akiko Yosano (1878–1942)
I face my desk
In soft autumn light
By Nobuko Yoshiya (1896–1973)
The soft light of winter,
Shining on you,
Moves on to the mountains.
By Tatsuko Hoshino (1903–84)
The spring rains,
Melting the Kamakura
snow huts of the north,
Soften even the word,
By Kensai Iimuro (1883–1928)
How clear the chimes resound
of the temple bells.
The hills of Kamakura,
Filled with autumn winds!
By Kunen Kaneko (1876–1951)
There are three black Japanese pine trees that stand on the left of the Great Buddha of Kamakura. The trees were offered by the royal family of the Kingdom of Thailand (previously known as Siam) to commemorate their pilgrimage to Kotoku-in Temple.
Memorial Tree to Honour Crown Prince Vajiravudh’s Visit:
Before becoming King Rama VI, Crown Prince Vajiravudh embarked on a pilgrimage to Kotoku-in on 27th December 1902. It was during the visit that he planted a Japanese pine tree at one of the corners of Kotoku-in Temple. However, by September 2009 the tree had died due to damage caused by insects. The tree that visitors see today at that particular spot is a new tree planted on 3rd July 2010 by the Royal Thai Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul by order of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX).
A Memorial Tree by King Prajadhipok:
King Prajadhipok (Rama VII of Siam) and his royal Queen, Rambai Barni, planted a Japanese pine tree to commemorate their Buddhist pilgrimage to the Kotoku-in Temple on 9th April 1931.
A Memorial Tree by Prince Vajiralongkorn:
Prince Vajiralongkorn planted a Japanese pine tree to commemorate his pilgrimage to pay homage to the Great Buddha of Kamakura on 25th September 1987.
Warazori (Japanese straw sandals)
A pair of giant warazori, traditional Japanese straw sandals, is displayed on the corridor wall in front of the Great Buddha of Kamakura. The warazori is 1.8 metres long, 0.9 metre wide and weighs around 45 kilo grams. The warazori was donated by the Matsuzaka Children’s Club of Hitachi-Ota City, Ibaraki Prefecture in 1951, after the Japanese were defeated in World War II, as an offering to the Great Buddha of Kamakura for the speedy recovery of Japan. The children donated the warazori with a specific prayer: “the Great Buddha would don them to walk around Japan, bringing happiness to the people.” Starting from 1956, the Matsuzaka Children’s Club have donated giant warazori to Kotoku-in Temple every three years.
The temple shop sells lucky charms, postcards, gifts and souvenirs for visitors to remember their visit to Kotoku-in Temple.
Commemorative Seal Service & Administrative Office
Visitors can acquire the Kotoku-in Temple’s memorial red seal, commonly known as goshuin in Japanese, from the Commemorative Seal Service and Administrative Office.
How to Get There
By Public Transport
Enoshima Electric Railway (Enoden)
- Starting point: Kamakura – If you start your journey to Kamakura using the Enoshima Electric Railway, please exit the JR Yokosuka Line at Kamakura Station. You then get on the Enoshima Electric Railway heading to Fujisawa and exit at Hase Station. From Hase Station, you can make your way on foot to Kotoku-in Temple, which is a short walk of approximately seven minutes.
- Starting point: Fujisawa – From Fujisawa, exit the JR Tokaido Line or Odakyu Line at Fujisawa Station before getting on the Enoshima Electric Railway to Kamakura. Exit at Hase Station and travel by foot for seven minutes to reach Kotoku-in Temple.
- Starting point: Kamakura Station (by bus)
For visitors wanting to travel by bus, please leave Kamakura Station by the East Exit. From there, you can either ride on the Enoshima-dentetsu Bus (referred to on the map above as bus stop number 1) or ride on the Keikyu Bus (referred to on the map above as bus stop number 6) and take the exit at the Daibutsu-mae which is only 10 minutes away from Kamakura Station.
By Private Vehicle
- Direction from Asahina Interchange to Kotoku-in – If you travel by private car, after exiting at Asahina Interchange, take Prefectural Road 204 to Kamakura. Once you see the Hachimangu intersection, turn left and go down Wakamiya-oji Avenue towards Yuigahama Beach. After that, you will find yourself driving below the JR Yokosuka Line track. Please turn right at Geba intersection going to Yuigahama-odori Avenue before crossing the Enoden level. From the Enoden level, drive for about 1.5 kilometres and turn right exactly at the Hase-kannon-mae crossing. Kotoku-in Temple will be on your right side after driving on Prefectural Road 32 for 500 metres.
- Direction from Zushi Interchange – After exiting at Zushi Interchange, continue on the Zuyo-shindo Toll Road by the Nagae and Nagisabashi crossroads on National Road 134 heading to Enoshima. Drive along the Namerigawa crossroads between National Road 134 and Wakamiya-oji Avenue for 700 metres. After that, turn right when you see a traffic light before taking another right turn at the subsequent intersection. This will take you to Enoden Hase Station and junction with Hase-kannon-mae. Kotoku-in Temple will be on your right side after driving on Prefectural Road 32 for 500 metres.
- Direction from Tokaido by National Road 1 – If you drive from the direction of Tokyo and Yokohama, exit at National Road 1 and immediately turn left at the Fujisawa Bypass Exit crossroad. Continue to drive down Prefectural Road 30 and when you see the Fujisawa-bashi crossroad, turn left. After driving below the JR Tokaido Line, turn left at the Minami-Fujisawa crossroad. You will reach Kotoku-in Temple after continuing your journey on Prefectural Road 32 bound to Kamakura for five kilometres.
Japanese Tourist Visa Requirements:
- A passport with at least six months validity during the visit to Japan.
- Proper documentation proving the applicant’s financial ability to support the trip to Japan.
- Providing a clear itinerary of the trip to Japan and return ticket information.
- Some nationals are exempt from requiring a visa. However, there is a time restriction based on the applicant’s nationality: citizens of Austria, Germany, Ireland and the UK can stay up to six months; where as citizens of Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the United States can stay up to three months.
- The citizens of countries not mentioned above will have to check with the respective Japanese Embassies in their countries. Generally, after gathering appropriate documentation to obtain a Japanese tourist visa, the applicant can either apply through a registered visa office, or visit a Japanese Embassy in person.
- Commonly, tourist visas are granted for between 15-90 days, depending on the applicant’s itinerary.
- If an applicant has a criminal record, it may be challenging for the application to be approved.
The Best Time to Visit
Japan is a beautiful country with four different seasons:
- Spring: March to May
- Summer: May to September
- Autumn: September to November
- Winter: November to March
Spring is the best time to visit the Great Buddha of Kamakura due to its mild weather. In addition, visitors can enjoy the beautiful cherry blossom trees around this time. Due to Kamakura’s close proximity to the ocean, it is wise not to travel at the end of summer or the beginning of autumn since the area is prone to typhoons during these periods.
Visiting Kotoku-in Temple
- Visitors who need to use a wheelchair are recommended to bring assistants to help them through the challenging grounds of the Kotoku-in Temple. The temple has only one wheelchair-friendly toilet for both males and females.
- The only animals permitted to walk freely on the temple grounds are service dogs to assist disabled visitors. Other pets need to be caged or properly confined while inside the temple complex.
- Smoking is strictly prohibited within the temple facility. However, there are a few designated areas for smokers nearby.
- Visitors are strongly recommended to have their lunch at appropriate places and are required to clean up after themselves.
- Visitors who wish to obtain pictures for marketing or business purposes need to get approval from the temple management in advance.
- Visitors are free to take photos for personal use as they wish. However, flying drones on the temple compounds are prohibited.
Opening Hours and Fees
The Kotoku-in Temple is open from 8 am to 5:30 pm every day. The entrance fee is ¥200 for general admission and ¥150 for students between 6 and 12 years old. Prices are cheaper if you come in a group of 30 people or more. The general fee for a large group of visitors is ¥170 per person. A large group of students, aged 13-18, are eligible to pay an entrance fee of ¥150 per person, while a large group of students aged 6-12 will be charged ¥100 per child.
Certain visitors are exempt from paying an entrance fee, these include:
- Disabled visitors with a certificate of physical disability.
- Teachers supervising a group of students.
- Children under six years old.
If you wish to see the interior of the Great Buddha of Kamakura, you can visit between 8 am to 4:30 pm and pay an additional entrance fee of ¥20.
What to wear when visiting Kotoku-in or other temples in Japan
There is no specific dress code when visiting temples in Japan including Kotoku-in unless you are attending a formal event. However, visitors are be required to take off their shoes before entering the temple building. Generally, since it is an active temple visitors should dress modestly.
Where to stay when visiting Kamakura
Kamakura is 30 minutes from central Yokohama and approximately one hour from Tokyo. Visitors can opt to stay at either of these two cities where there are more options for accommodation. If you choose to stay at Kamakura, there are several places that you can consider as mentioned below. However, we suggest that visitors find accommodation that is suitable for their specific needs.
Kamakura Prince Hotel
Address: 1-2-18 Shichirigahama Higashi, Kamakura 248-0025, Kanagawa Prefecture
Average Price: US$210/night
Phone: +81 3-4510-0626
Sotetsu Fresa Inn Kamakura Ofuna
Address: 1-26-5 Ofuna, Kamakura 247-0056, Kanagawa Prefecture
Average Price: US$88/night
Address: 273-3 Tokiwa, Kamakura 248-0022, Kanagawa Prefecture
Average Price: $65/night
What to do in Kamakura
Other than visiting the Great Buddha of Kamakura at Kotoku-in Temple, visitors can also visit the following places in Kamakura:
- Kamakura Hase-dera Temple – You can visit the temple’s observation trail to view more than 40 types of hydrangea flowers.
- Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine – Other than being one of the known landmarks in Kamakura, it is famous for its cherry blossoms during spring time.
- Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine – There is sacred water in this shrine that is believed to be able to multiply coins. People like to wash their coins using the sacred water and use them as good luck charms.
- Hokokuji Temple – This temple is famous for its beautiful bamboo grove.
- Inamuragsaki Onsen – At this onsen or hot-spring, visitors can immerse themselves in hydrogen carbonate spring water which is believed help make the skin beautiful.
For more interesting information:
- Buddha at Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya
- I visited the holy Jokhang Temple, Lhasa 2008
- Huge statue of Luang Phor Thuad in Thailand
- Incredible White Temple in Thailand
- Pilgrimage to Mount Wutai
- Power Place: Jog Falls
- 16 Unique Places in Japan
- Holy Place of Kuan Yin
- 74 Grand Statues of the World
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