Snapshots of Japan | Visiting The Giant Seated Amida Buddha in Kamakura

Formally known as the Seated Amida Buddha, more commonly called the Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) of Kamakura, this beautiful Buddhist statue was cast from bronze in the mid-13th century, to replace a similarly large wooden Daibutsu completed just a few years earlier but damaged soon after in a storm.

Originally a hall was built to enclose the bronze statue; this too was damaged in a storm. The hall was rebuilt and destroyed by the weather multiple times during the following two centuries, but after the hall was once again washed away by the tsunami of 1498 the Great Buddha was left out in the open. Unsheltered from the elements, Daibutsu was at risk of deterioration, until a temple priest and an Asakusa merchant built a new temple, Kōtoku-in to protect and worship it in 1712.

The base upon which the statue sits was destroyed in an earthquake in 1923, the new plinth being built shortly afterwards. In the 1960s, repairs were made to the statue itself, with the neck strengthened to better withstand future natural disasters.

Visiting Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) at Kamakura in Japan. On Kavey Eats-141450
Two visitors taking photos of the Giant Buddha

At over 13 metres in height (including the base) Daibutsu is very imposing and the beautiful green tones of oxidised bronze are beautiful against the greenery and blossoms of spring. That said, it must have looked very different when new – it was originally covered with gold leaf, of which only traces remain near its ears.

Visiting Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) at Kamakura in Japan. On Kavey Eats-140746 Visiting Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) at Kamakura in Japan. On Kavey Eats-140902
Visiting Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) at Kamakura in Japan. On Kavey Eats-141032 Visiting Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) at Kamakura in Japan. On Kavey Eats-143150
Our first glimpse of Daibutsu; Pete in front of Daibutsu; our friend offering a prayer; the throng of fellow visitors

Visitors can also enter into the Buddha via a small side entrance into the plinth, which affords an insight into the casting and assembly of the statue. Entrance to this is 20 yen, but note that it’s not for the claustrophobic!

Visiting Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) at Kamakura in Japan. On Kavey Eats-002 Visiting Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) at Kamakura in Japan. On Kavey Eats-140514
Visiting Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) at Kamakura in Japan. On Kavey Eats-142220 Visiting Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) at Kamakura in Japan. On Kavey Eats-142321
Incense dome; cherry blossoms; a man worshipping the Kannon Statue within Kangetsudo (Moon Viewing Hall) behind Daibutsu; the roof of Kangetsudo

The nearest train station to Kōtoku-in Temple is Hase, about 10 minutes walk, or you can walk from Kamakura station in 20-30 minutes. Entrance to the temple costs 200 yen per person.

If you can manage a lot of stairs you may also enjoy a visit to nearby Hasedera (Hase Temple), which affords beautiful views of the area from its main terrace half way up the hill.

You may also enjoy these posts about my travels to Japan.

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17 Comments to "Snapshots of Japan | Visiting The Giant Seated Amida Buddha in Kamakura"

  1. Mamta Gupta

    Beautiful photo of Amida (Amitabha or Limitless Light) Buddha. The face looks so serene. Buddha statues are not always so well made. This statue seems to have weathered many storms. Did you go inside?

    Reply
  2. Camilla

    What an amazing Buddha, the mind boggles as to how it was made and put together as bronze has to be fired. I did enjoy seeing all your photos on instagram of your trip:-)

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes it’s an amazing creation for that era, and I can’t even imagine how it must have looked when fully covered in gold leaf! Wow!

    Reply
  3. Kellie@foodtoglow

    Impressive images of the Amida Buddha, Kavey. You really should consider organising and doing bespoke tours to Japan. Your knowledge and interest is quite amazing.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    I wish I could make a living but I don’t think I could even make enough to cover my costs of going as guide!

    Reply
  4. kaveyeats

    We loved it. Our first trip was 2012, then we went back in 2013 and then we thought we’d take a year off and go back in 2015 but that ended up sliding to this year instead! Can’t wait to go back again!

    Reply
  5. Snigdha (Snig's Kitchen)

    Dear Kavey,

    What a beautiful Buddha? It is mindblowing that such a large bronze was made and has survived so well from such a long time ago. I am gobsmacked it isn’t known as a wonder of the world.

    Lovely pictures and a brilliant postcard from Japan. Thanks for sharing your travel experiences!

    Reply
  6. Snigdha (Snig's Kitchen)

    Dear Kavey,

    What a beautiful Buddha! It is mindblowing that such a large bronze was made and has survived so well from such a long time ago. I am gobsmacked it isn’t known as a wonder of the world.

    Lovely pictures and a brilliant postcard from Japan. Thanks for sharing your travel experiences!

    Reply
  7. kaveyeats

    I loved it, this was our third trip, not but the last. We had 4 weeks this time and still wanted more!

    Reply
  8. Tad Osborne

    Stunning sight to behold… if you can suffer all those selfie sticks

    Reply
    Bucharest Travel

    But they are hilarious, imagine they will soon hunt pokemons inside the Great Buddha or in the area. That will be quite fun. Fine pictures and an interesting story indeed.

    Reply

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