The Great Buddha of Kamakura Is One of Japan’s Grandest Sights to Behold at Kotoku-in Temple

Kōtoku-in, a temple in Kamakura, is widely renowned for its Great Buddha statue.

The official name of Kamakura’s Great Buddha in Japanese is dōzō amida nyorai zazō, otherwise known as the Bronze Seated Amida-butsu (Amitabha Buddha). It is the only Buddha statue in the area designated as a National Treasure of Japan.

The Great Buddha of Kotoku-in Temple, famous as the Great Buddha of Kamakura

The Great Buddha of Kamakura – the only National Treasure designated at Kotoku-in

Opening hours and admission fee for Kotoku-in

Kotoku-in closes at 5:30 PM from April to September and at 5:00 PM from October to March, so night visitation is not possible. The temple opens at 8:00 AM in the morning, and visitors can enter the grounds after paying the admission fee at the ticket office.

The admission fee is 300 JPY for junior high school students and above (ages 13 and above), and 150 JPY for elementary school students (ages 6 to 12).

As Kotoku-in receives many visitors from overseas, signs displaying the admission fee and opening hours in English are installed.

Entrance to Kotoku-in requires an admission fee

Kotoku-in is well prepared to host overseas visitors

Inside the grounds, visitors first wash their hands and rinse their mouths at a traditional hand washing pavilion.

Unlike some other temples, there are no ladles provided at Kotoku-in’s pavilion to scoop water. Instead, water flows out of bamboo pipes, allowing visitors to perform water purification rites there.

The hand washing pavilion at Kotoku-in in Kamakura

Kotoku-in’s hand washing pavilion

Standing at over 11 meters, the Great Buddha of Kamakura towers over the grounds

Proceeding further into the grounds, you’ll see the Great Buddha of Kamakura. The Great Buddha, standing about 11.3 meters (37 feet) tall and weighing 121 tons, is a truly imposing presence.

The Great Buddha of Kamakura at Kotoku-in

The Great Buddha of Kamakura at Kotoku-in

According to records, the Great Buddha of Kamakura sustained damage from natural disasters in 1334, 1369, and 1498. It was restored in the middle of the Edo period and remains standing today.

Preserving an almost unchanged appearance from when Kotoku-in was first built, the present-day statue is an important presence in the history of Buddhist art in Japan.

It was designated a National Treasure in 1958, and in 2004, the entire temple grounds of Kotoku-in were designated as a Japanese historic site called the “Kamakura Daibutsu-den Ato” (Ruins of the Great Buddha Hall of Kamakura).

Hand-made straw sandals illustrate the size of the Great Buddha of Kamakura

The size of the Great Buddha of Kamakura can be understood from the enormous straw sandals (warazōri) on display in the temple grounds.

With a length of about 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) and a width of about 0.9 meters (3 feet), the sandals are sized to match the Buddha’s feet. An adult standing next to them looks tiny in comparison!

The sandals were first donated to Kotoku-in in 1951 with the wish for “the Great Buddha to travel around Japan and spread happiness to everyone.”

Since then, new giant straw sandals have been made and donated to Kotoku-in every three years.

The giant straw sandals donated to Kotoku-in in Kamakura

Straw sandals donated every three years

Incense offered before visiting the Great Buddha of Kamakura

Located directly in front of the Great Buddha is a Buddhist altar called a jōkōro, used for offering incense sticks. It is said that the smoke from the incense sticks purifies defilements.

The incense altar at Kotoku-in

Altar for burning incense in front of the Great Buddha of Kamakura

Bundles of incense sticks can be acquired for 100 JPY at the shop to the right of the Great Buddha.

The best time to offer incense at the altar is before paying your respects to the Great Buddha of Kamakura.

Incense sticks offered at Kotoku-in's altar are 100 JPY

A lighting space is conveniently located right next to the incense stick bundles

It is also possible to enter the interior of the Great Buddha of Kamakura.

Separate from the admission fee, an additional 50 JPY must be paid at the entrance on the right side of the statue.

Viewing the Great Buddha from the inside as well as the outside provides a valuable experience, allowing you to sense the traces left from its construction.

Visitors can enter inside the Great Buddha of Kamakura at Kotoku-in

Seasonal goshuin seals feature the Great Buddha of Kamakura!

Two types of goshuin seals, which serve as proof of visitation, are available: one that can be received year-round and a seasonal design

At the time of our visit in May 2024, the seasonal goshuin featured a golden Buddha against a hydrangea background, available for 600 JPY each.

Goshuin at Kotoku-in in Kamakura

Seasonal goshuin seal at Kotoku-in

At Kotoku-in, various types of omamori protective amulets can be received, including those for traffic safety, passing exams, and more.

A particularly unusual one is a pair of long chopsticks for praying for longevity, which can actually be used at the dining table.

Whether you keep them for yourself or offer them as great gifts for family and friends, they’re sure to be appreciated as a wonderful souvenir from Japan.

Omamori protective amulet at Kotoku-in in Kamakura

The long chopsticks available at Kotoku-in

Kotoku-in also offers a distinctive golden geta (a type of traditional Japanese sandal) amulet, said to be imbued with the wish for and benefit of strengthening the feet.

As it comes with a strap, this amulet can be attached to smartphones or bags.

Omamori protective amulet at Kotoku-in in Kamakura

Omamori at Kotoku-in

Kamakura is an area that attracts many overseas tourists. To accommodate international visitors, Kotoku-in has installed signs with English language.

Additionally, the temple grounds are also able to be accessed by those who require use of a wheelchair, provided they are accompanied by a caregiver. The temple grounds are equipped with ramps and wheelchair-accessible restrooms.

Kotoku-in, a temple that anyone can easily visit, is certainly a spot worth seeing in Kamakura!

Temple information

Name 高徳院
Address 4-2-28, Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan
Access Hase Station 6-minute walk from Hase Station Exit
  • Enoshima Electric Railway(EN12)
Phone number 0467-22-0703
Visiting hours April-September 8:00-17:30
October-March 8:00-17:00
Sacred items Available from 8:30-16:45
Goshuin Goshuin seal inscription into goshuincho is available is available from 9:00-15:00;
pre-written goshuin seals are available from 8:00-16:30
Omikuji Not available
Admission fee Junior high school students and above (13 and above) 300 JPY
Elementary school students (6 to 12) 150 JPY
entering inside the Great Buddha requires an additional fee of 50 JPY
Official website
Other information
  • Signboards are available with Japanese and English language
  • Wheelchair-accessible areas are available
  • Restrooms are available
  • Bringing in luggage is allowed
  • There are no areas where photography is not allowed
  • There are no areas where you must remove your shoes

※The information in this article is current as of May 2024.