Kamakura, Japan: A Day at Hase-dera Temple

Only an hour from Toyko, Kamakura, Japan is a coastal city, small in size, but big in history, culture and charm. It’s history as a former capital of Japan (1192-1333) was coincided with the spread of Buddhism and the establishment of Kamakura as a town of temples. In the 19th century, the area became known for its beaches.

One of the temples in Kamakura is Hasedera. Originally built in 736 to house a large wooden statue of Kannon (goddess of Mercy) that has 11 heads, other statues and gardens were added over time. It is particularly famous for the large number of jizo statues (bald monk looking figures).

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Hase-dera entrance, very OLD tree

HIGHLIGHTS OF A VISIT TO HASE-DERA TEMPLE

Underground Cave:

This winding cave has a low ceiling and contains many statues.

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Tori gate at cave’s entrance
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Cave at Hase-dera
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Cave at Hase-dera
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Cave at Hase-dera
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Cave at Hase-dera

Gardens and Views:

Be sure to walk around and take in the beauty of the gardens, water features and views.

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Gardens
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Gardens
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Lotus
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Gardens

You may notice a swatsika symbol on a sign on the left hand side of this photo. Originally from the Sanskrit word svasti, meaning good fortune, the symbol is found in many places around the world and usually signifies good luck and well being. I have seen it in India as well.  It is often seen on the chest of Buddha in images. It was not until the 20th century that is took on a negative meaning when it was used by the Nazi party in Germany.

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Gardens
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Views

Temple:

As mentioned, the temple houses Kannon, an 11 headed statue. Each head signifies a different stage in the search for enlightenment.

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Temple
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Statue of Kannon inside temple (photo by WolfgangMichel (Own work) [CCo], via Wikimedia Commons
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People write messages and wishes

Jizo Statues:

Historically, jizo was the protector of travelers, women and children. Today, Jizo is the guardian of unborn, stillborn and miscarried babies. The statues can be purchased outside of the temple and placed inside the temple gates. To make room for more statues, some are moved out periodically.

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Jizo
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Jizo
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Jizo
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Jizo
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Jizo

Visit the Prayer Wheel:

There is a very large and impressive prayer wheel in it’s own building on the temple property.

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Prayer wheel, photo by Chris 73/Wikimedia Commons
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Smaller wheels in the wall

If you have time on your way to or from the temple, take time to enjoy Kamakura. It is lovely and full of little surprises around every corner.

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Kamakura
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Kamakura, spinning tops
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Kamakura, spinning tops
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Kamakura, richshaw
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Kamakura, tabi shoes on richshaw driver
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Kamakura, coffee vendor

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