Measuring some 38 ft (11 meters) tall, the Great Buddha of Kamakura once stood inside a grand temple hall. The hall was destroyed multiple times in the 14th and 15th centuries by typhoons and tsunamis, but the Buddha remained. It’s been sitting serenely in the open air ever since. All these years later you can still see traces of the gold leaf decoration that once covered the statue.
Elsewhere in the Kotoku-in temple complex, you can view the bronze lotus leaves that were made for the original pedestal on which the Buddha stood. An easy day trip from Tokyo, there are lots of ways to visit Kamakura, from one-day tours including other cultural highlights like tea ceremonies to guided bike and walking tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Entry to the temple is via paid ticket.
- You can see inside the Buddha statue for a small additional fee.
- Kotoku-in temple is fully wheelchair accessible.
- Kamakura is a seaside city, so leave some time to explore the waterfront.
How to Get There
Kamakura is an easy journey from Tokyo on public transport. The closest station is Hase on the Enoden streetcar line that runs to Kamakura station with onward connections to Yokohama and Tokyo. Alternatively, you can opt for a guided tour from Tokyo with round-trip transport provided.
When to Get There
Kotoku-in temple and the Giant Buddha are open to the public all year round. Kamakura is a popular destination to visit in spring when the streets come alive with candy-floss flowers during the cherry blossom festival or hanami in Japanese.
Head to the Beach If you’re visiting Japan during the summer months you can soak up the sun on the popular beaches around Kamakura. Yuigahama and Zaimokuza are the two most popular beaches, and in July and August, you’ll see many Tokyoites swimming and surfing along the shore. There are shower and changing facilities as well as stalls selling food and drinks.