Viewing the Amida Buddha and Temples in Kamakura

Marisa Lewis
December 30, 2013

The gate leading to the various shrines and temples of Kamakura!

While in Japan, one of the trips I went on with my host family was to Kamakura. Kamakura is an area located not far from Tokyo, and historically it was a former de facto capital of Japan as the seat of the Shogunate and of the Regency during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333;  known for the emergence of the samurai, the warrior caste, and for the establishment of feudalism in Japan). I had told my host family that I really wanted to see some famous temples, and going here together was their solution!

O-mikuji being hung at a a shrine.

It was nice and chilly when we went, and there was a slight breeze. I could see people’s fortunes blowing in the wind! At Shinto and Buddhist shrines, people often receive a fortune by picking one out from a box, usually after donating five yen (roughly five cents). They then tie their fortune (also known as “o-mikuji” to a specific lot. I’ve done this before and gotten bad luck! Hopefully my luck has taken a turn for the better since then!

This is the famous Amida Buddha!

The highlight of the visit was being able to see the Amida Buddha. It is a bronze statue that is supposed to have been built around 1252 during the Kamakura period. It is hollow so that visitors may see inside, and is almost 44 feet tall!  These are some of the characteristics that make it one of the most iconic religious icons of Japan.

Buddha feet in a garden.

The many other shrines in Kamakura were beautiful, too. Everywhere I looked there were intricately detailed religious icons, gardens, and respectful visitors. I felt honored to take part in the religious gathering, and I took pictures nonstop! Except in the places I wasn’t allowed to, of course. There was one area with a beautiful and large golden buddha that I really wanted to photograph, but couldn’t! Ah well.

Many sculptures lined the walls of the cave.

There was one shrine that was actually inside of a cave! The ceilings were very low, and various tunnels went led to more and more statues and religious icons. The ambience of this shrine was wonderful, because it was almost entirely candlelit. Visitors stood in line and took their turns viewing all of the beautiful sculptures and wall carvings. It felt very mystical to me!

Countless little buddhas.

As my host family and I were leaving the temple and shrine area, I was able to see these little sculptures shown on the right. The sunlight was shining down on them, and they looked so peaceful, yet powerful. Just being in Kamakura gave me a sense of calm and rendered me with awe — it is truly a beautiful and remarkable place.

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Marisa Lewis

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hello! My name is Marisa Lewis, and I am an East Asian International Relations Major/East Asian Studies Minor at the University of Virginia. I&rsquo;m originally from Alexandria, Virginia (though I&rsquo;ve got a lot of family in Thailand as well) and am super excited to be traveling to Japan! I&rsquo;ve only ever been to the Japanese airport before &ndash; their toilets are awesome, by the way &ndash; and have always wanted to experience Japanese culture ever since I first started watching Pokémon as a kid. Don&rsquo;t lie. You watched it, too! In my spare time I love to read, write short stories, bake, listen to music, and have adventures. I am looking forward to making new friends, stocking up on Japanese sweets, and experiencing all that Japan has to offer! But more importantly, stocking up on Japanese sweets. Where my mochi at?</span></p>

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