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Kamakura Daibutsu Temple





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Kamakura Daibutsu
The Magnificent Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha)





Kamakura Daibutsu Temple is known worldwide as the "Great Buddha of Kamakura" temple.  Originally the temple at this location is called Kotoku-in Temple and the Buddha was known as Kotoku-in Daibutsu.  This temple is located in the Old Japan Capital of Kamakura (see Enchanting Kamakura section) which is part of the Kanagawa prefecture.  This temple is easily reached by Japan Railways train (JR Yokosuka Line) or the Odakyu Line from Tokyo Metropolis.

Lady Inadano-Tsubone who was a lady attendant of Shogun Yoritomo (first Shogun of Japan, 1147-1199) came to cherish the desire to have a Great Image of Buddha.  After her master died she left court service in order to devote herself to raising funds for the construction of the Great Buddha. 

Kamakura Daibutsu Temple Stamp

Her fervent endeavors moved everyone especially Joko, a priest in the Province of Totomi, who willingly cooperated with her in fund-raising by travelling all over the country.  Thanks to the Compassion of the Buddha, enough funds were collected to start the work in 1238.

The first image, which was completed in 1243 after five years of continuous labor, was a wooden one.  It was damaged by a storm in 1248.  Then the lady Inadono Tsubone and priest Joko proposed to make it of bronze.  However, a vast amount of money was needed to implement this, but they managed to procure the funds and went on with the construction.  A bronze image was completed in 1252 and an inaugural ceremony was celebrated on August 17th of that year.  This is the same image (see above) that is still standing at the same location for seven centuries, since inception.


The Great Buddha, who is sitting in the open air, was not always so.  Immediately after the wooden image was completed, a big hall to enshrine it was constructed in 1243.  But the storm that damaged the image in 1247 also brought the hall to the ground.  A new hall was built in the same year when the bronze image was completed, but it was again destroyed by a strom in 1334.  Again a hall was reconstructed, but once again it was smashed by a heavy gale in 1369. 


The fourth reconstruction that ensured served to enshrine the Buddha till 1498, when an unpredecented tidal wave swept the structure away, leaving the image exposed to the sun.  The ocean was nearby Sugami Bay and the temple was susceptible to Tsunamis and Tidal Waves. Archbishop Yuten (1637-1718), the 36th abbot of the Great Head Temple Zojoji of the Jodo Sect, did his best to rebuild the lost hall, but the project was discontinued at his death in 1718.  Therefore, since 1495, the Buddha has been sitting out doors, rain or shine.  The big earthquake in September 1923, did not harm the Great Buddha but destroyed it's base and it was repaired in 1925.  The latest repair was done in 1960-61.  This repair reinfored the neck of the statue which supports the big head and made it possible for the Buddha's body to move freely on the base in the event of a strong earthquake. 
(Source for this background: Temple Brochure)

Right behind the Great Buddha statue there is a Kannon Bosatsu temple that was built in Korea during the 15th century and was moved to Kamakura about 50 years ago.  In the garden behind the Great Buddha you see many stones that were remnants from the old construction. 

The statistics of the "Great Buddha of Kamakura":

Date of Construction - 1252 AD
Weight - 121 Tonnes
Height 13.4 Meters
Face 2.35 Meters
Eye 1 Meter
Ear 1.9 Meters
Mouth .82 meters
Knee to Knee - 9.10 Meters
Circumference of the Thumb - .85 Meters.

Here is a video of the "Great Buddha of Kamakura":




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