Kotoku-in’s Great Buddha in Kamakura is one of the most famous view of Japan, less than one hour West of Tokyo. And the sight is one of Heisei’s 100 landscapes. On the Pacific Ocean coast, the large bronze statue used to deal with many storm, typhoons and even tsunamis – and survived. Apart from being a religious spot, Kamakura is also a major surf one among Japanese, going there every weekend to escape Tokyo.
Apart from the Great Buddha (鎌倉大仏, Kamakura Daibutsu) being quite famous, we would not guess before going to Kamakura that the place was also a huge surf spot, with hundreds of surfers waiting for the waves since early morning most of the days. It is thus common to catch a sight of Japanese with their surfboard side-mounted on the bike or scooter on their way to (or coming back from) the ocean. Between the coast and station, peaceful areas with many craftsmen shops are also to be found.
The easiest way to reach the Kotoku-in temple (200 yens, everyday from 8am to 5 or 5.30 pm) is to reach Hase station from Kamakura station with the lovely Enoden. There is only three stops. Beginning to mid April, the cherries trees of the city are in full bloom.
The Great Buddha dates back from 1252 (and from the period of the same name, when the shoguns were ruling over Japan from the city). But unlike the bronze statue, many temples buildings of the area did not survive the Pacific storm. As a result, the Buddha is now displayed in the open air since 1495, after a powerful tsunami destroyed its last main hall.
Kamakura has always been a spiritual center, with many temples and shrines. The city was once home of monk Nichiren, who founded the Nichiren Buddhism (and healed the Jindai Zakura in Hokuto).
The statue is 13,35 m high for about 95 tons. The inside is also to be visited (20 yens, see the small desk right next to the Great Buddha). The biggest Buddha in Japan is not Kamakura’s: the one in Nara’s Todai-ji is 5m tallest!
After visiting Kotoku-in temple, taking the Enoden further to reach Enoshima island is a popular trip among Japanese. Less known among westerners visitors, the place is even more peaceful with a touch of love and mystical atmosphere…
How to get there?
From Tokyo, the easiest is to travel on the JR Shonan-Shinjuku line from Shinjuku to Kamakura (920 yens, about one hour, included with JR Pass). Then the Enoden part is only 13 minutes and 190 yens.