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Published on 06.28.2016
Japan's most fascinating historical landmarks and oldest surviving Daibutsu sculpture, the Great Buddha of Kamakura.
The Great Buddha or Daibutsu is a National Treasure and one of the centerpieces of Japan's cultural heritage. It is also known as one the largest Big Buddha statue worldwide. This enormous bronze statue is a representation of Amida Buddhan and seated serenely in the grounds of Kotokuin, in the city of Kamakura, Japan.
The Great Buddha is constructed with the help of Priest Joko, who travelled across the country in search of donations. It was casted in gold on Year 1252 in the Kamakura period. At the height of 13.35 meters high and weighing 93 tons, it was originally housed inside a temple. But the the statue has stood in the open air sunce the temple building was destroyed in the tsunami.
In the Mahayana tradition there are many kinds of Buddha. The Historical Buddha (the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, also known as Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism) is one of them. The statues of some Buddha shares common attributes. The Amida Buddha is not Siddhartha Gautama, it is a monk named Dharmakara, who become a Buddha. This Buddha is usually represented wearing simple monk clothes and the KamakuraDaibutsu is no exception.
The great Buddha is seated in lotus position with hands forming a gesture of meditation called “DHYANI MUDRA”. The Daibutsu has a spectacular sight with a backdrop of wooden hills.
The Great Buddha's hair is represented in small spiral curls. This is a reference to a legend known as Prince Siddhartha, who at one moment pulled his hair together into a top knot and cut it. After the cut, the hair spiraled into fine curls and he never needed to cut his hair again. The statue of Amida Buddha must always have 656 curls.
On the top of the head we can see a Nikkei. It is a bump on top of the head which symbolizes the fact that Buddha is all-knowing. It also symbolizes a fully developed top chakra.
At the front base of the Nikkei we can see a circular object, the Nikkeishū (also called as Nikkei Jewel), which “radiates the light of wisdom".
On the forehead, we can see Byakugo, a symbolic representation of the third eye, emitting rays of light. This means Buddha is all-seeing. Usually, on Buddha statues the third eye is represented from a crystal or a gem. On the Kamakura Great Buddha, Byakugo is made of pure silver, weighing of about 13.5 kilograms.
The hands are represented in the position of Mida no Jōin (Meditation Mudra), a Japanese specific position, used exclusively for Amida Buddha.
Upon entering the temple, the first structure to welcome the visitors is a small container with a water for washing of hands. It is believed this is used as a purification ritual which is common in many temples. Behind the lion structures is you will see the great head of the Buddha. When you take a closer look, the Daibutsu is awe-inspiring in its size. There are still some Japanese people who visits the place and pray for respect to the Great Buddha.
Calm and dignified, travelling to the Great Buddha should be one of your top list when visiting Japan. Visitors can actually go inside the sacred monument for a small donation of 20 yen. The visitors are permitted to enter the Buddha and see from the inside how it was cast. This unique experience ensures that a visit to the Daibutsu of Kamakura will be a memorable one.
How to go there?
The statue of Kamakura is a 5 minute walk from the Enoden railway station which is the third station from the Kamakura main station. The temple is open from morning, 7 am to evening 6 pm and the admission fee for adults is 200 Yen and 150 Yen for children. There are no closing days all year round so the temple is always filled with visitors.
Source: Japan Travel