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Buddha of Kamakura


These are images of the Great Buddha of Kamakura, a monumental bronze statue of Amida Buddha built in 1252 (the Kamakura Period of Japan).  This enormous Buddha is greatly admired for its form, grace and size —and for its strength and resilience:the statue withstood  the massive tsunami of 1495, a tidal wave that destroyed all other structures and buildings in the area.

Originally, the statue was housed inside a wooden temple. Since the temple itself was washed away by the tsunami, the Buddha has stood in the open air, and today is surrounded by a complex of paths, plantings, evergreens, and pools of clear water where visitors can ritually wash their hands, and take a drink of water.

The statue is located not far from the sea, on the grounds of the Kotokuin Temple in the old city of Kamakura. It is easy to reach by a train from Tokyo, and a short walk from the Enoden Railway Station. Near the statue complex there is a wonderful, old-fashioned market for fruits and vegetables, wasabi mustards, and artisan goods—notably fabrics, glass, and ceramics. 

Although the statue is a collosus, and that is the feature most remarked, I found it moving above all for the sense of intimacy, peace, and quiet that radiate from the place. 




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Photographs ©2005 Emily Hiestand.  Available as archival prints.