A year ago I was sitting in my son’s house in Zushi Japan, wishing I didn’t have to go home so soon. He relocated to Japan almost two years ago and I miss being able to see him on a regular basis, like I can our other two sons. Google+ is great, but it is not the same as hugging him in person.
On my trip I was fortunate enough to accompany him and a guide to the Big Buddha in Kamakura Japan. We made the decision to take the train as it is the most practical style of transportation in Japan and very economical.
We arrived at the shrine, bought our tickets and viewed the entrance way. It was a simple wall and gate and not the elaborate prevalent structure that is present at most temples in Japan. We entered and all attendees are required to wash their hands with the purified water at the fountain as you enter. One is obviously aware that this is a very significant Temple in the Japanese culture and it was very populated the day we went.
“Stranger, whosoever thou art and whatsoever be thy creed, when thy enterest this sanctuary remember thou treadest upon ground hallowed by the worship of ages. This is the Temple of Bhudda (sic) and the gate of the eternal, and should therefore be entered with reverence.” (a) A sign posted for all that enter.
You then view the Buddha for the first time in a direct frontal position and it is a very imposing structure. There is a large structure that incense is burned in in front of the Buddha and one is supposed to wave the smoke across one’s body to relieve themselves of aches and evil applications.
The Temple was constructed in 1252 approximately. There is some debate as to the exact year. The first Buddha was wooden and was completed at this site in 1243, after ten years of labor according to temple records. (b)
The statue is bronze and is 13.35 meters or 43.8 feet tall. It weighs approximately 270,000 pounds or 121 tons. (c) It is hollow and visitors can tour the inside and see the various construction methods used to build and repair the shrine over the years and through many storms.
The statue was the subject of a poem by Rudyard Kipling “The Buddha at Kamakura” and is a National treasure. The Temple is located on a large site and has plenty of places to meditate and gain relaxation. There are a few sundry locations that offer souvenirs and there is a large pair of straw hanging slippers on one wall. I was taken back by the size of the slippers.
Our guide gave us an additional benefit when she took us through a side gate to her family’s shrine located on the exterior of the shrine property and adjacent to the main area. Josh and I were very thrilled to see this hallowed area and be allowed to view the family shrines that were in the private burial place. Some of the tombs and structures had been there for centuries. We were totally respectful and only asked questions after we left.
It takes a couple of hours to thoroughly view the shrine, its satellite structures and tour the interior of the Buddha. I would recommend bringing water if it is a warm day to stay hydrated. Regardless, one leaves this Temple with a high sense of respect for the Japanese people and their dedication to their religion.
I know the tour had a substantial impact on me and I will never forget my visit to the Big Budhha. Peace and Safe Travels to all people.
(a)Takao Sato (ed.). Daibutsu: The Great Buddha of Kamakura. Hobundo. p. 18.