The Great Buddha

sign at entrance of the Daibutsu

The Great Buddha of Kamakura is a monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amitābha Buddha located at the Kōtoku-in Temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The bronze statue probably dates from 1252, in the Kamakura period, according to temple records. It was preceded by a giant wooden Buddha, which was completed in 1243 "after five years of continuous labor", the funds having been raised by Lady Inadano-Tsubone and the Buddhist priest Joukou of Toutoumi. That wooden statue was damaged by a storm in 1248, and the hall containing it was destroyed, so Joukou suggested making another statue of bronze, and the huge amount of money necessary for this and for a new hall was raised for the project.[1] The sculptors were Ono Goroemaon and Tanji Hisatomo.

At one time, the statue was gilded. There are still traces of gold leaf near the statue's ears.[3] The hall was destroyed by a storm in 1334, was rebuilt, and was damaged by yet another storm in 1369, and was rebuilt yet again.[4] It is unclear, however, whether the statue constructed in 1252 is the same statue as the present statue. The building housing the statue was washed away in the tsunami of September 20th, 1498 during the Muromachi period.

A True Giant

Giant Buddha statue at Kamakura

The statue is approximately 13.35 meters tall and weighs approximately 93 tons. The statue is hollow, and visitors can view the interior. Many visitors over the years have left graffiti on the inside of the statue.[6] At one time, there were thirty-two bronze lotus petals at the base of the statue, but only four remain, and they are no longer in place.[7] A notice at the entrance to the grounds reads, "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 Bhudda (sic) and the gate of the eternal, and should therefore be entered with reverence.

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Preservation

etched pillar in the garden at Daibutsu

Since the last hall was washed away in 1498, the Great Buddha has stood in the open air. The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 destroyed the base the statue sits upon, but the base was repaired in 1925.[9] Repairs to the statue were carried out in 1960-1961, when the neck was strengthened and measures were taken to protect it from earthquakes

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