Japan · Travel Tales

Hase-dera and Kotoku-in: Two temples in Kamakura

One of the things I love about going to another country is exploring its houses and temples of worship. (I have had some annoyed travel companions because of this in the past, when they can’t keep up with my desire to cover so much land in a day, even though the temples all look alike at some point.) We didn’t have enough time to explore Kamakura City, which has so many temples and shrines, and at one point in history was the seat of the Kamakura shogunate, but we did have a couple of hours to visit two Buddhist temples: Hase-dera and Kōtoku-in.

At the Hase Temple
At the Hase Temple

Hase-dera is is most famous for a wooden statue, gilded in gold, of Kannon, the deity of mercy.

Kannon-dō in Hase-dera
Kannon-dō in Hase-dera

It also has gorgeous surroundings: there is a viewdeck with views over Kamakura, lovely gardens and buildings, and a nice (albeit expensive) restaurant. There is also an underground cave called Benten kutsu, which contains statues of Benzaiten and other gods.

We bumped into one of our former students herein Hase-dera, of all places!

Purification fountain
Purification fountain

 

Gardens in Hase-dera
Gardens in Hase-dera. Imagine if it were autumn!

 

An example of expensive (and not really filling) snacking: matcha and red bean pastry in Kamakura's Hasedera Temple.
Matcha and red bean pastry. We were expecting a tea ceremony — ah well.

 

 

The library
The library

 

 

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There is also the Jizō-do Hall which contains thousands of statues of the Jizō bodhisattva:

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My first time to encounter cute bodhisattva statues!

My first time to encounter cute bodhisattva statues!

I had some Japanese schoolkids coming up to me, asking me to have their picture taken with them. I was stumped as to why — buy hey, photo ops! Later on, we realized that maybe it was for an English language assignment. Pretty awesome way to learn , I think.

Next, we followed the small crowd of tourists to the Kōtoku-in, which houses the Daibutsu, or the Great Buddha.

The Kamakura Daibutsu
The Kamakura Daibutsu

The statue is made of bronze and dates from 1252 AD, during the Kamakura shogunate period. It’s 13.35 meters high and each eye is one meter in length. We actually entered the inside of the Buddha (how’s that for a religious experience) for a minimal fee.

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3 thoughts on “Hase-dera and Kotoku-in: Two temples in Kamakura

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