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The Great Buddha of Kamakura is located in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan. It is a monumental outdoor bronze statue to be found in the vicinity of Kōtoku-in Temple (a Jōdo-shū Buddhist Temple). Usually, buddhas are located outdoors, but the Great Buddha of Kamakura sits in open air.
See the fact file below for more information on the Great Buddha of Kamakura or alternatively, you can download our 21-page The Great Buddha of Kamakura worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
The Kōtoku-in Temple
- The Kōtoku-in temple in Kamakura is famous for its “Daibutsu” which is the Giant Buddha Statue.
- The Kōtoku-in is also one of Japan‘s designated National Treasures.
- The temple was proposed by Kamakura to be included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site and it is now among the 23 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Japan.
- The word Daibutsu is a Japanese term that is used informally to refer to “giant buddhas,” or a large statue of Buddha.
- The Daibutsu located in the Kōtoku-in temple is a depiction of Amitābha, Amitāyus, or Amida Buddha.
- Amida is the main buddha in Pure Land Buddhism which is a branch of East Asian Buddhism.
- According to Buddhist scriptures- Mahayana and Vajrayana- Amida possesses infinite merit (good karma) that came from his good deeds from his past lives as a bodhisattva (a person who practices Buddhism) named as Dharmakāra.
- Amitābha means “Infinite Light.”
- Amitābha also means “The Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life.”
- Amitāyus means “Infinite Life.”
- In Japanese language, Amida is commonly referred to as Amida Butsu and Amida Nyorai.
- According to the records of the Kōtoku-in Temple, the statue dates back to 1252.
- A giant wooden buddha was finished at 1243 after ten years of continuous labor.
- However, a violent storm in 1248 destroyed the wooden statue along with the hall containing it, so it was suggested that a new statue should be constructed.
- The funds needed for the construction of the bronze statue came from Lady Inada (Inada-no-Tsubone) and Buddhist Priest Jōkō of Tōtōmi, the one who made the suggestion.
- The person who made the bronze cast varies in different accounts. According to Japan Encyclopedia by Frederic Louis (2005), it was Ōno Goroemon. According to an article in The Washington Times, “The Great Buddha at Kamakura” by Kate Tsubata (May, 2008), it was Tānji Hisamoto.
- Ōno Goroemon and Tānji Hisamoto were both leading casters at that time.
- There was a time when the ear of the statue was gilded.
- Gilding is a process or a decorative technique of applying a thin coat of gold to a surface of any material, such as metal.
- There are still traces of gold in the statue’s ears.
- The hall in which the statue is located suffered from many storms.
- It was again destroyed by a violent storm in 1334, and was rebuilt.
- It was again destroyed in 1336, and was rebuilt yet again.
- The Great Buddha stood outdoors since the last building housing it was engulfed and destroyed by a tsunami caused by the 1948 Meio Nankaido earthquake, during the Muromachi Period.
- The inside of the statue (which is 13.35 metres tall and weighs 93 tonnes) is hollow.
- The visitors can enter the insides of the statue to view its interior.
- Unfortunately many relentless visitors have left graffiti on the inside walls of the statue.
- There was a time when thirty-two bronze lotus petals were at the base of the statue. But now, there are only four petals remaining and none in its original and right place.
- The base in which the statue is sitting were destroyed when the Great Kanto earthquake happened in 1923, then it was repaired in 1925.
- Between the year 1960 and 1961, the statue of The Great Buddha in Kamakura underwent continuous repairs.
- That was the time when the statue’s neck was strengthened and measures were taken to prevent damage caused by calamities, especially earthquakes.
- Further research and restoration work was done on the statue in 2016.
DIMENSIONS AND DETAILS
- Weight: 121 tons
- Height: 13.35 meters
- Length of Face: 2.35 meters
- Length of Eye: 1.0 meter
- Length of Mouth: 0.82 meter
Length of Ear: 1.90 meters
- Length from knee to knee: 9.10 meters
- Circumference of thumb: 0.85 meter
- Buddhists from all over the world visit to pay respects to the Great Buddha of Kamakura.
- Anyone who enters will see a sign that reads (English translation): “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.”
- The temple is open everyday and the statue can be visited from 8 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon.
- Admission to the temple costs 200 yen.
The Great Buddha of Kamakura Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Great Buddha of Kamakura across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use The Great Buddha of Kamakura worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Great Buddha of Kamakura which is located in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan. It is a monumental outdoor bronze statue to be found in the vicinity of Kōtoku-in Temple (a Jōdo-shū Buddhist Temple). Usually, buddhas are located outdoors, but the Great Buddha of Kamakura sits in open air.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- The Great Buddha of Kamakura Facts
- Complete Dimensions
- The Great Sketch
- Vocabulary Review
- Cultural Significance
- What’s Next?
- Welcome Sign
- Buddhist Practices
- Japan’s National Treasures
- Buddhas All Over The World
- Discovering Kamakura
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Use With Any Curriculum
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