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STOIC POETRY | Great Buddha Statue in Kamakura Japan | 鎌倉の大仏

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

The Great Buddha (Daibutsu or 大仏 in Japanese) of Kamakura City Japan is one of the most popular and interesting places to visit when you come to Japan. Not far from Tokyo, Kamakura can be easily reached by train for a pleasant day trip away from the big city. There are also bus lines which can take you here. Don't worry about your Japanese skills when you come to Kamakura as you'll find local merchants and vendors are happy to help you in every case.

Tourists admiring the Great Buddha

When you come to see the Great Buddha of Kamakura then please visit in the morning when you can enjoy the statue when the lighting is at its best. Japan is quite famous among photographers for the excellent lighting conditions which are at their best in the hours just after dawn and before sundown.

Don't forget to go down and into the enormous Buddha of Kamamura when you come here, as you'll find the view from the inside to be quite interesting and pleasant. Also, there's something about experiencing the tour from the inside that provides a sense of sharing of this historic object with others.

After your tour of the Great Buddha statue of Kamakura, then please be sure to visit some of the local shops in the area and enjoy some of the local fare. I highly recommend a lunch of traditional Japanese soba noodles with all the fixings and green tea as an especially good way to top of the day. And if the weather is warm, then how about a nice "soft cream" ice cream cone to top of your tour of the Kamakura Great Buddha statue? Have fun!

Japanese people praying at the Great Buddha Statue in Kamakura, Japan

And for those of a literary bent, here's an interesting poem by Rudyard Kipling about the Great Buddha of Kamakura, Japan:

O ye who tread the Narrow Way By Tophet-flare to Judgment Day, Be gentle when ‘the heathen’ pray To Buddha at Kamakura! To Him the Way, the Law, apart, Whom Maya held beneath her heart, Ananda’s Lord, the Bodhisat, The Buddha of Kamakura. For though He neither burns nor sees, Nor hears ye thank your Deities, Ye have not sinned with such as these, His children at Kamakura, Yet spare us still the Western joke When joss-sticks turn to scented smoke The little sins of little folk That worship at Kamakura— The grey-robed, gay-sashed butterflies That flit beneath the Master’s eyes. He is beyond the Mysteries But loves them at Kamakura. And whoso will, from Pride released, Contemning neither creed nor priest, May feel the Soul of all the East About him at Kamakura. Yea, every tale Ananda heard, Of birth as fish or beast or bird, While yet in lives the Master stirred, The warm wind brings Kamakura. Till drowsy eyelids seem to see A-flower ’neath her golden htee The Shwe-Dagon flare easterly From Burma to Kamakura, And down the loaded air there comes The thunder of Thibetan drums, And droned—‘Om mane padme hum’s’ A world’s-width from Kamakura. Yet Brahmans rule Benares still, Buddh-Gaya’s ruins pit the hill, And beef-fed zealots threaten ill To Buddha and Kamakura. A tourist-show, a legend told, A rusting bulk of bronze and gold, So much, and scarce so much, ye hold The meaning of Kamakura? But when the morning prayer is prayed, Think, ere ye pass to strife and trade, Is God in human image made No nearer than Kamakura?

Photo credits: All photos used by permissions of Creative Commons license on Flickr.

  • "Kamakura Great Buddha" by Syoko Matsumura

  • "Kamakura Buddha" (two images with the same title) by John Gillespie


My name is Kurt Bell.

You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.

Be safe... But not too safe.

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