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18 Jul 2014

Kamakura Daibutsu 大佛 , Japan

Yokohama [横浜市] • JULY 2014
The Kamakura Daibutsu, or the Great Buddha of Kamakura, is a symbol of the old city. The huge statue stands on the grounds of Kotoku-in Temple, which belongs to the Jodo Sect, a traditional Buddhist sect founded by the priest Honen (1133–1212).  

Honen was a devotee of Amitabha, Buddha of the Western Pure Land. It is believed that the original vow of Amitabha Buddha is to liberate all beings, irrespective of sex, age or social standing, regardless of whether the individual has engaged in good or evil deeds in their lives. A National Treasure of Japan, the Kamakura Daibutsu is a colossal copper image of Amida-butsu (Amitabha Buddha).
The construction started in 1252 but the exact date of completion is unclear. At that time, the statue was housed in a temple but the building was destroyed by strong winds and a tsunami. The hall that originally housed the Great Buddha was built on a total of 60 cornerstones, 56 of which survive today. All are made from pyroxene and esite mined in Nebukawa, Odawara city, located some 40 kilometers west of Kotoku-in. Some of these stones are now used as garden stones or water basins.


The Kamakura Daibutsu is the second largest statue after the Nara Daibutsu. It has attracted many tourists for years and years. It is highly recommended to enter the interior of the statue and sense the sophisticated casting technology of old times.


Entrance fee: 200 yen. Open from 7:00 am to 17:30 pm. You can enter inside of daibutsu which you have to pay extra 20 yen. Only new years- eve, it open mid-night to see lighten up daibutsu. 
Access 
0. at Kamakura Station. 
1. use Enoden to Hase Station (9 min.) 
2. walk north (10 min.)


The Great Buddha is seated in the lotus position with his hands forming the Dhyani Mudra, the gesture of meditation. With a serene expression and a beautiful backdrop of wooded hills, the Daibutsu is a truly spectacular sight.


The Daibutsu is Amida Buddha, who is the focus of Pure Land Buddhism. Originating in China, this sect gained prominence in Japan in the 12th century and remains very popular today. The central teaching is that through devotion to Amida Buddha, expressed through mantras and sincerity of heart, one will go to the Pure Land or "Western Paradise" after death - a pleasant realm from which it is easy to attain nirvana.


The Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kamakura Daibutsu) is a bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which stands on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple. With a height of 13.35 meters, it is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan, surpassed only by the statue in Nara's Todaiji Temple.

Buddhism originated in India in the 6th century BC. It consists of the teachings of the Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha. Of the main branches of Buddhism, it is the Mahayana or "Greater Vehicle" Buddhism which found its way to Japan.
Buddhism was imported to Japan via China and Korea in the form of a present from the friendly Korean kingdom of Kudara (Paikche) in the 6th century. While Buddhism was welcomed by the ruling nobles as Japan's new state religion, it did not initially spread among the common people due to its complex theories.
There were also a few initial conflicts with Shinto, Japan's native religion. The two religions were soon able to co-exist and even complement each other.
During the Nara Period, the great Buddhist monasteries in the capital Nara, such as Todaiji, gained strong political influence and were one of the reasons for the government to move the capital to Nagaoka in 784 and then to Kyoto in 794. Nevertheless, the problem of politically ambitious and militant monasteries remained a main issue for the governments over many centuries of Japanese history.

                                   
The statue is approximately 13.35m tall and weighs approximately 93 tons. The statue is hollow, and visitors can view the interior for a mere 20 Yen a person. 
The Great Buddha was originally housed in a temple, but this was washed away by a tsunami in 1498. Since then the statue has stood in the open air. Repairs were carried out in 1960-1961, when the neck was strengthened and measures were taken to protect it from earthquakes. 
There is slipper of the Buddha. 
Details 
• Weight; 93 tons 
• Height; 13.35m 
• Length of Face; 2.35m 
• Length of Eye; 1.0m 
• Length of Mouth; 0.82m 
• Length of Ear; 1.90m 
• Length from knee to knee; 9.10m 
• Circumference of thumb; 0.85m 

                                 
Chadogu (茶道具) refers, collectively, to tea equipment. A wide variety of chadogu designs fits every season and event. Tools used in the ceremony are usually handled with much care. They are cleaned very well before and after use. The Japanese culture values the ritual so much that some chadogu are handled only with gloved hands.

Chakin (茶巾). A small rectangular hemp cloth or linen to wipe the tea bowls.
Natsume (棗). A small lidded tea caddy that holds the tea for brewing.
Chawan (茶碗). A tea bowl. Chawans come in a wide range of styles and sizes. Shallow tea bowls are used in summer so that the tea cools easily, while deep bowls are popular in the winter.
Chasen (茶筅). Tea whisk to mix the hot water and powdered tea, usually made from a single piece of bamboo.
Chashaku (茶杓). A tea scoop, of bamboo, wood, or ivory, to transfer tea into the tea caddy.

Usucha and Koicha
There are two primary ways of preparing matcha: usucha (薄茶) and koicha (濃茶). Koicha is a rich, thick blend of matcha and hot water that uses about three times as much tea as usucha. To prepare usucha, hot water and matcha are whipped with a tea whisk, while koicha has to be kneaded to blend the huge amount of matcha with hot water.
Thin tea is usually served in individual bowls, while a bowl of thick tea is shared among a number of guests. The most crucial part of chaji is the preparation and drinking of the koicha, followed by the usucha. A chaji may also involve the serving of thin tea and confections–in effect, a chakai sandwiched in–for a more relaxed ending.


The earliest tea ceremony came to Japan in the 6th century as a significant part of Buddhist meditation. The first documented tea in Japan dates back to a Buddhist monk, Eichu, as he arrived from China in the 9th century. Eichu was believed to have served green tea personally tea to Emperor Saga in 819 while on an excursion in Karasaki.

At the end of the 12th century, another Buddhist monk named Eisai introduced tencha (tea preparation) to Japan. He brought with him seeds that yielded high quality tea leaves. During the Kamakura Shogunate, tea became a status symbol of the warrior class. During this time, tea tasting parties came into wide practice in Japan, regardless of society level. Many tea ceremony schools have evolved throughout the history of chado and are still active today.

How to get there - Click here 

By JR Yokosuka Line
The JR Yokosuka Line connects Tokyo Station directly with Kamakura Station. The one way trip takes just under an hour and costs 890 yen. Along the way, the trains also stop at Shinagawa Station, Yokohama Station and Kita-Kamakura Station among others.

By JR Shonan Shinjuku Line
The JR Shonan Shinjuku Line provides a direct connection between Shinjuku Station and Kamakura Station. The one way trip takes about one hour and costs 890 yen. Only trains bound for Zushi, that is roughly every second train (about two departures per hour), provide a direct connection to Kamakura. Otherwise, a transfer of trains is required at Ofuna Station.

By Odakyu Railways
The cheapest way of visiting Kamakura is by Odakyu's Enoshima Kamakura Free Pass, which includes the round trip from Shinjuku to Kamakura and unlimited usage of the Enoden train for only 1430 yen. Note however, that when using this pass, the journey to Kamakura takes at least 90 minutes, compared to about an hour by JR.

Kamakura is served by two railway companies, JR East and Enoden. JR East connects Kamakura directly with Yokohama and Tokyo, and Enoden (Enoshima Electric Railway) operates a tram-like railway line from Kamakura Station along the Pacific coast to Enoshima and Fujisawa.
Kamakura's main attractions are concentrated in three areas, around Kita-Kamakura Station (Kamakura's leading Zen temples Engakuji and Kenchoji), Kamakura Station (Hachimangu Shrine) and Hase Station on the Enoden Line (Great Buddha and Hasedera).
Due to its relatively small size, Kamakura can be explored entirely on foot or by rental bicycles. Hiking trails lead through the hills surrounding the cities. There is also a network of city buses, and short taxi rides are an option to access more isolated sights like Zeniarai Benten and Zuisenji.


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