Known also as “the Kyoto of the East”, the coastal city of Kamakura is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire country, being home to temples, shrines, beaches, and of course the famous giant statue of Daibutsu!
Kamakura, located in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan, is a fantastic day trip from Tokyo. I took many day trips from the capital, including to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, and Mount Fuji. This trip to see the giant statue of the Daibutsu Buddha was just as satisfying as the others, if not more so. Despite not being far from Yuigahama Beach, there is plenty of greenery in the Daibutsu area. After getting off at Kamakura Station, I got a bus to the Hasadera Temple, the admission to which cost me 300YEN. I was very impressed with the classic Japanese gardens around here, which reminded me very much of the Shukkeien Gardens in Hiroshima.
Hasedera Temple, nearby to Daibutsu, was my first stop of the day. I didn’t really know where I was going, but I followed the crowds and eventually made my way to purchase the admission. I notice that temples over the rest of the Japan are not as expensive as most of those in Kyoto. There are fantastic views over the entire city and out to sea, and luckily I came on a fairly clear day, which all added to the enchantment.
I began following the crowds once more, for a very long walk from Hasadera to another temple. Located in the grounds of the marvellous Kotokuin Temple, the Daibutsu Buddha is without question of the major icons of Japan. Along with Mount Fuji, Kinkakuji Pavilion, the Itsukushima Shrine, the A-Bomb Dome, and the epic crowds of Tokyo’s suburbs, Daibutsu is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country, and continues to pull in the crowds of all ages at all stages of the year.
Daibutsu is actually a bronze statue (you can’t really tell from a distance) and stands at over 13 meters tall. I learned that it is actually the second tallest bronze statue of Buddha in Japan, ranking behind only a Buddha in the Todaiji Temple over in Nara. Daibutsu, however, was itself originally situated inside a temple hall after being built in the 13th century, but these buildings were destroyed by typhoons rolling in from the nearby coastline in the 15th century. Since 1495, Daibutsu has been standing in the open. I am not a Buddhist, but I really loved this giant Buddha. It was one of the highlights of Japan for me, and after reading so much about it from other people on their travels, it was great to finally tick it off my own bucket list!