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Region
Kanto
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Yokohama
Population
8,489,932

Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha)

If size matters, Kamakura’s bronze-cast idol proves that bigger is better.

For a country that is synonymous with all things compact, the iconic Kamakura Daibutsu – nicknamed the Great Buddha – was no small feat to build back in the 13th century.

Drawing inspiration from the Nara Daibutsu housed at Todai-ji Temple, the Kamakura Buddha towers at a rivaling height of approximately 44 feet (roughly 13 meters) and weighs-in at a whopping 93 tons.

But even bigger than its size was the unwavering devotion to construct, time and again, the image of the Enlightened One.

Inside the Great Buddha of Kamakura.

You can enter inside the giant Buddha statue. Photo by Rodrigo Fernandez.

Founder of the Kamakura Shogunate (the region’s governing samurai), Yoritomo Minamoto was also a patron for the religious arts and wanted to demonstrate his power by constructing an equally powerful image of the worshipped deity. To fulfill the warlord’s wishes of leaving a legacy after his death, the Kamakura Daibutsu was founded entirely on donations from Minamoto fans.

Finally casted in 1252, the statue was reconstructed three times until 1452. The Great Buddha has been serenely sitting in lotus position in the grounds of the Kotoku-in Temple ever since.

Manju in the shape of the Great Buddha.

Try a Great Buddha cake baked and sold around Kotoku-in temple.

Another colossal monument on display at the temple is a pair of straw zori sandals made to fit the feet of the big Buddha. While donating straw sandals is a practice with a long-standing tradition, adorning oversize footwear (called waraji) is an expression of gratitude and prayer for safe travels and “lower-body health” back when feet were the only means of getting around.

You can venture inside the hollow body of the statue for a relatively small fee. But beware that the statue interior can reach sweltering temperatures in the summertime.

Stop by Kotoku-in Temple’s souvenir shop to take home a pocket-sized souvenir of the Kamakura Daibutsu. Or follow your nose to the sweet scent of manju (a cake filled with red bean paste) baked in the image of the big man himself.

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How To Get There

By train

From Kamakura Station, take the Enoden (Enoshima Electric Railway) bound for Fujisawa to Hase Station (approx. a 7-minute train ride). From Hase Station, it’s a pleasant walk to Kotoku-in Temple where the Kamakura Daibutsu is enshrined (approx. 7-minutes).

By bus

Take the Enoshima-dentetsu Bus (departing from Bus Terminal No.1) or the Keikyu Bus (Bus Terminal No.6) from the East Exit of Kamakura Station. Get off at Daibutsu-mae bus stop (approx. a 10-minute bus ride).

Where To Stay

guesthouse SHIBAFU
  • Hase 1-15-22 Kamakura-Shi, Kanagawa 248-0016
  • 9/10
  • 0.2 km
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CASA Kamakura Espresso PUB&BED
  • Hase 1-15-5 208-0016
  • 9.1/10
  • 0.3 km
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Zen Vague
  • Hase 2-7-29 Kamakura-Shi, Kanagawa 248-0016
  • 8.9/10
  • 0.5 km
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Guesthouse Kamakura Rakuan
  • Sakanoshita 16-11 Kamakura-Shi, Kanagawa 248-0021
  • 8.7/10
  • 0.6 km
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