Fortunate to spend a day in Kamakura, we visited Hasedera, a temple built on a hill and Kamakura Daibutsu, Japan’s second tallest Buddha statue.
Entering Hasedera, we were very much fascinated by a beautifully landscaped garden. It was just stimulating to slowly roam around, to stop and appreciate nature’s unique splendor. The temple’s main buildings are actually located further up the hill and we went up by climbing on concrete stairs.
Hasedera temple houses Kannon-do Hall where Hase Kannon can be found. It is prohibited to take photos inside the hall. With a height of 9.18 meters, Hase Kannon is one of the biggest sculptures in Japan. It holds a staff made of tin in its right hand and a vase of lotus flowers in its left hand. It has 11 heads aside from the main one. They say the name Kannon means bodhisattva, someone who can hear everybody’s thoughts and wishes.
Aside from Kannon-do hall, Kyozo Sutra archive, Benten-do hall and Benten-kutsu cave, Jizo-do hall and an observation platform can also be found in Hasedera.
A small building, the Kyozo Sutra archive contains rotating bookracks called rinzo where essential Buddhist sutras for the temple is kept.
In the Jizo-do hall, seemingly countless Jizo stone statues are arranged. They say the statues are there to comfort the soul of unborn children. The hall also has this small building where Fukuju (Happy) Jizo is located.
Another interesting thing in Hasedera is Benten-do hall and Benten-kutsu cave. In Benten-do hall, statue of Benzaiten, a sea goddess with eight arms can be seen. On the other side of the hall is Benten-kutsu cave, a long tunnel with a low ceiling where Benzaiten devotionals are stored.
There is also this observation platform overlooking Yuigahama/Zaimokuza beaches. Nothing really special can be seen from the platform. Nearby are some picnic tables where you can rest your feet.
A variety of stunning flowers can also be sighted in the temple compound. The natural, scenic wonders surrounding Hasedera temple really make it a must-visit place in Japan. I find it a little incomparable to the many temples I had visited.
Hasedera is open daily from 8AM to 5PM. Admission fee is JPY 300.
After Hasedera temple, we rode the train to visit Kamakura Daibutsu.
The Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kamakura Daibutsu) can be found on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple. It is a bronze Buddha statue with a height of 13.35 meters.
What makes Kamakura Daibutsu different from the other Buddhist sculptures is that you can actually go inside the statue (admission fee is JPY 30). Entering inside the structure, we climbed through narrow stairways. It’s a bit dark inside. From the outside, you can actually notice two windows at the upper back of Daibutsu where light inside is coming from.
Kamakura Daibutsu was built seven and a half centuries ago. Humongous as it is, the statue is divided into 30 pieces that were connected using a technique they call ikarakuri.
It’s not really common to find a structure as big as Kamakura Daibutsu. What’s more unusual is a statue with an inner chamber you can opt to go through. These make Kamakura Daibutsu another must-visit attraction in Japan.
Kotokuin Temple is open daily from 8AM to 5:30PM. Admission fee is JPY 200.