If you’ve had your fill of all the sights in downtown Tokyo, perhaps take a day trip south to the city of Kamakura in the Kanagawa Prefecture.
Kōtoku-in is famous for the Great Buddha, an outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha (one of the most famous icons of Japan).
When I visited, I took the metro and the electric rail. In total it took 2 hours to get to Hase Station, the last stop on the Enoshima Dentetsu Line that leads to the main avenue where the temple is located.
I got on the Ginza Line and got off at Shimbashi Station. From where I was staying it was approximately 20 minutes to Shimbashi Station. From there, I got on the Yokosuka Line headed to Kamakura Station, which takes around an hour. Once I got to Kamakura station, I had to leave the station as my day pass was not accepted for the Enoshima Line. You buy the tickets for that line at the kiosks outside of the station. From I took the Enoshima Dentetsu Line to Hase Station.
“Stranger, whosoever thou art and whatsoever be thy creed, when thou interest this sanctuary remeber thou treadiest upon ground hallowed by the worship ages. This is the Temple of Buddha and the gate tof the eternal, and should therefore be entered with reverence.” -Temple Notice
From Hase station, Kōtoku-in is just a 10 min walk up the street. The street that ledes to the temple is quite pleasant and has plenty of coffee shops, ice cream shops, and restaurants along the way. There are also plenty of souvenir shops, so I recommend stopping in a few of them to look at prices of the of the gifts you’d like to check out. On the way back to Hase station you could stop back to the one with the best prices and get your steal before you head out.
The entrance to the temple is off to the right of the main road (if you are coming from the Hase Station), and is a narrow path surrounded by trees. You’ll pass under the Nio-man Gate and enter into a small courtyard where you will see the ticket window to purchase tickets to enter the temple.
After passing the ticket gate, the bronze statue is just ahead along the path. It is believed to date back to 1252 according to the temple records. Before that, the statue was wooden and was damaged in a storm in 1248.
From its base, the statue is around 43 feet tall and weighs 93 tons. Inside of the statue is hollow and I got to go inside it for a small fee of 10 yen. Along the right side, there is a stand where you pay the fee to enter and up down a narrow set of stairs. The inside is dark, but you can see a few marks where past visitors have graffitied inside leaving names and initials. There used to be thirty-two bronze lotus petals at the base of the statue but today only four remain.
After walking around the temple grounds I headed south from the temple to Yuigahama Beach. beach, which is a 15 min walk. It was a hot day out, but down by the beach it was breezy and there were plenty of families out on the sand.
The beach looks out toward Sagami Bay and is 3.2 km long. The beach has an interesting history, as it was used as a grounds to practice martial arts such as horseback archery. Today, though, you’ll mostly see wind surfers breezing along the waves and a couple of boats beached along the shore.
After a long day of walking around bustling Tokyo the day before, the day trip to Kamakura to see the Great Buddha was quiet and relaxing. While it was a bit hot, the stroll down to the beach was refreshing. The breeze cooled me down and prepared me for the trip back to Tokyo where I was staying. If you’re planning a trip to Tokyo, be sure to include a day for a trip to Kamakura!