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Hasedera Temple - Kamakura

last update: November 15, 2021
Hasedera Temple (長谷寺) is one of the most important and most interesting Buddhist temples to visit in Kamakura. For 1300 years this temple has housed a very precious gilded wooden statue of the deity Kannon, 9.18 meters high and considered one of the largest wooden sculptures in Japan. The temple buildings are built on the slopes of the Kannon-zan hill, which is home to a great variety of trees and flowers that bloom throughout the year. The panoramic view from the terrace located about the middle of the slope is one of the most picturesque views of the city of Kamakura.

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All the details about the Hasedera Temple in Kamakura

Historical background

Legend has it that, in the year 721 AD, a monk known as Tokodo carved two eleven-headed statues of Kannon (goddess of mercy for the Buddhist religion), using wood of a sacred tree, in Hatsuse, a village located in the present prefecture of Nara. Of the two, one was taken into custody by the then existing Hasedera Temple of Nara, the other was thrown into the ocean, praying for it to appear and help people elsewhere. Also according to legend, the statue appeared in 736, after fifteen long years, on the shores of the current prefecture of Kanagawa. In that same year the Hasedera Temple of Kamakura was founded, precisely to house the statue of Kannon. However, documents in the temple's archives suggest that this only really took hold during the Kamakura period (1192-1333). Long belonging to the Tendai Buddhist sect, it is now an independent temple of Jōdo-shū Buddhism.

Guide to visiting the Hasedera Temple

The temple's main entrance gate (Sammon Gate) is located at the base of the hill, and is easily recognizable by a large red lantern and an iconic pine tree in front of it. Once you pass the door, you find yourself in front of a small lake surrounded by a beautiful traditional-style garden. To the right of the pond there is a small shrine dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten and the entrance to a cave (Benten-kutsu cave). Inside the cave, very dark and low (you have to bend your back to be able to go inside) there are several statues of the Benten.
kamakura hasedera sammon gate The main gate of the temple, the Sammon Gate
kamakura hasedera temple kamakura hasedera temple Garden and pond inside the temple
After going up a short staircase, you reach an elevated area where the main buildings of the temple are located:


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