Kamakura

Travel period Jan 2017

Visiting Kotokuin Temple 

Kamakura is a coastal town in Kanagawa Prefecture, less than an hour south of Tokyo. This small city is filled with numerous temples and shrines. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and oceans, Kamakura is steep in historical and nature landscapes. 

Once was Japan’s feudal capital between the end of 12th century and middle 14th century. Therefore, Kamakura also known as Home of the Samurai. The city gave its name to the Kamakura shogunate which governed the country during the Kamakura period (1185-1333).

Main gate of Kotokuin Temple where the Great Buddha of Kamakura situated

Kamakura is a popular destination, not only a hotpots for hikers, but it’s also home to the Great Buddha (Daibutsu).

The Great Buddha of Kamakura (Daibutsu) 

The Great Buddha of Kamakura is one of Japan’s most Iconic landmarks. The gigantic bronze statue is a representation of Amida Buddha, which stands on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple.

The Daibutsu

The statue dates all the way back to 1252 and originally located inside a large temple hall. However, since the late 15th century, the Buddha has been standing in the open air due to multiple destruction by typhoons and a tsunami in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Giant straw sandals of the type worn by Japanese monks inside building

Unlike the Daibutsu in Nara’s Todaiji Temple, where the statue of the Daibutsu is shown with the Buddha’s right hand raised to deliver a blessing to all. The Daibutsu of Kamakura is meditating. It shown with the Buddha’s hands are laid on its lap with palms and thumbs touching, which represents the mudra of “perfect repose and passionless calm”.

The Interior of the Statue

With a height of 11.4 meters, it has long been the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan, surpassed only by the statue in Nara’s Todaiji Temple and some recent creations. The statue is hollow, and for a small donation of 20-yen, visitors can go inside the sacred statue to view the interior.

Inside interior the Daibutsu

The entrance is on the right-hand side of the Daibutsu as you approach it from the front. It is clear from the lattice pattern on the interior walls that the Daibutsu was made from a series of more than 30 separate castings that were pieced together like a puzzle.

This technique was surprisingly advanced for the era in which it was built. If you look at the Daibutsu’s neck from the inside, you can see evidence that it was strengthened using reinforced plastics during repair work done in 1960. 

The Temple ground

Getting to Kamakura

Kamakura is served by two railway companies, JR Line and Enoden Line. 

  • By JR Yokosuka Line – The JR Yokosuka Line connects Tokyo Station directly with Kamakura Station. The one-way trip takes just under an hour and costs 920 yen. This is also the quickest way.
  • By JR Shonan Shinjuku Line – The JR Shonan Shinjuku Line provides a direct connection between Shinjuku Station and Kamakura Station. The one-way trip takes about one hour and costs 920 yen. Please note only trains bound for Zushi, that is roughly every second train (about two departures per hour), provide a direct connection to Kamakura. Otherwise, a transfer of trains is required at Ofuna Station.
  • By Odakyu Railways – The cheapest way of visiting Kamakura is by Odakyu’s Enoshima Kamakura Free Pass, which includes the round trip from Shinjuku to Kamakura and unlimited usage of the Enoden train for only 1,470 yen. Note however, that when using this pass, the journey to Kamakura takes at least 90 minutes, versus about an hour by JR. 

Getting to the Great Buddha from Kamakura Station

Take the Enoshima Electric Railway for Fujisawa (Enoden Line) to Hase Station (4 minutes, 190 yen). Then walk about 5-10 minutes to the Great Buddha. 

Kotokuin Temple
Hours: 08:00 – 17:30 (until 17:00 from October to March)
Fee: 200 yen 

Statue Interior
Hours: 08:00 – 16:30
Fee: 20 yen

Note: The information provided in this post was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service.