Exploring Kamakura: Kotoku-in Temple

About an hour away from Tokyo, there is Kamakura (鎌倉), the home of today’s featured site, the Kōtoku-in Temple (高徳院), which has the prominent outdoor Buddha known as the Amida Buddha. This outdoor statue is not only famous for its grandeur and scale (it stands a little over 40 feet (13 m) tall), but also for weathering the elements far better than the temples built around it. The statue was built around 1252 (in the Kamakura period), and the hall that was built around it was destroyed by a storm in 1334, was rebuilt, and was damaged by yet another storm in 1369, and was rebuilt yet again. The last hall was washed away in a tsunami in 1498, and since then the Amida Buddha has stood in the open air.

The Amida Buddha in all its glory

I decided to visit the temple towards the end of my stay in Japan when I was staying in Tokyo. And it was tricky to get there. Mainly because of Tokyo’s insane rail network. When I arrived in Kamakura, I needed to change train lines and had to get a new ticket. However, I didn’t know that at first, and needed to ask a security guard for help (between his broken English and my broken Japanese, we were able to communicate). After arriving at the correct train station, I followed the groups of Japanese tourists and the sparse signs to the temple. I paid the low entry fee and got in. And I have to admit, it was worth the trouble. The Buddha was amazing. It definitely seems a lot bigger and grander in person than it does in pictures. I walked around the Buddha several times, just to soak it all in. It was very cool and very fun. If you are in the Tokyo area, it is definitely worth the trip to see this great site.

The temple is open from 8 AM to 5:30 PM from April to September, and 8 AM to 5 PM from October to March. It costs 200 yen to enter the temple and if you pay an extra 20 yen, you can go inside the Amida Buddha (it’s hollow)! The temple is about a 10 minute walk from Enoshima Electric Railway’s Hase Station (長谷駅). Or you can take a bus from JR Kamakura Station (鎌倉駅), to Daibutsu-mae bus stop, which is right next to the temple.


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