Great Buddha in Kamakura

Kamakura, Japan

Great Buddha at the Kotoku-in Temple in Kamakura, an 11.4 meter (37 ft), 121 ton copper statue constructed in 1252 at the height of Hojo clan power. The Hojo were the ruling family and major power brokers during the Kamakura shogunate period of Japanese history. While not as big as the Buddha in Todaiji Temple, Nara, that inspired it, the Kamakura Great Buddha is considered superior in terms of artistry.

The bronze statue probably dates from 1252, in the Kamakura period, according to temple records. It was preceded by a giant wooden Buddha, which was completed in 1243 after ten years of continuous labor, the funds having been raised by Lady Inada (Inada-no-Tsubone) and the Buddhist priest Jōkō of Tōtōmi.

At one time, there were thirty-two bronze lotus petals at the base of the statue, but only four remain, and they are no longer in place. A notice at the entrance to the grounds reads, “Stranger, whosoever thou art and whatsoever be thy creed, when thou enterest this sanctuary remember thou treadest upon ground hallowed by the worship of ages. This is the Temple of Buddha and the gate of the eternal, and should therefore be entered with reverence.”