March 28th, we went to the Hase area of Kamakura to see the Daibutsu. On our way there, we stopped at Hase-dera. Hase-dera has a beautiful garden and views of the coast and town below. The weather was lovely and we had a wonderful time enjoying the garden and temple grounds. Hase-dera was founded after the famous Hase-dera in Nara. It is said that the tree that the image of Kannon that is housed at Hase-dera in Nara was carved from was so large that a second image of Kannon was carved from it, and tossed into the sea, with the prayer that it would someday return to save humanity. Some years later, it washed ashore at Kamakura, and Hase-dera was founded near that spot.
On the way to the main hall, there is a smaller hall dedicated and garden area dedicated to Jizo. Here we saw the most adorable statues of Jizo.
There are many beautiful flowers blooming in the garden at Hase-dera. Of course, by this point, the cherry blossoms were blooming just about everywhere we went. In fact, this was the official opening day of cherry blossom viewing season in the Tokyo area. Here we also saw a beautiful bi-colored peach blossom. The same tree has branches with white flowers and branches with deep pink flowers.
Next we went to see the Daibutsu (Big Buddha) of Kamakura. The Daibutsu is one of the most popular attractions in Kamakura. The Daibutsu is 12.3 meters tall and is sculpted from bronze. On the wall of the temple is a pair of woven straw sandals that are sized to fit the Great Buddha’s feet. You can get an idea of the scale of the statue by standing next to these huge sandals. You can learn more about Kamakura Daibutsu, Hase-dera, and other sights in Kamakura here.
I stopped on the way to the Daibutsu at a small stand selling niku-man and other Chinese dumplings. The niku-man was 400 yen, which is a bit expensive for these steamed, meat-filled buns, but it was large enough to share, and one of the best ones I’ve had. I highly recommend it. It is the small, Chinese-style building on the left side of the street as you walk toward the Daibutsu.