Interesting facts about the Great Buddha of Kamakura

great buddha of kamakura

The Great Buddha of Kamakura is a monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amitabha Buddha located at the Kotoku-in Temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

Amitabha Buddha is one of the Five Wisdom Buddhas. “Amida” is the Japanese form of the Sanskrit “Amita,” meaning “Immeasurable One.”

According to the Azumakagami, a chronicle describing the achievements of the Kamakura Shogunate from the late 12th century through the mid-13th century, construction of the Great Buddha began in 1252. It is also believed that the priest Joko gathered donations from the people to build it. However, much remains unclear about the specifics of the Great Buddha’s construction, and the artist has yet to be identified.

The Great Buddha was originally housed inside a temple. The hall was destroyed by a storm in 1334, was rebuilt, and was damaged by yet another storm in 1369, and was rebuilt yet again. The last building housing the statue was washed away in the tsunami of 20 September 1498, during the Muromachi period. Since then, the Great Buddha has stood in the open air.

The exterior setting is perfect for the Great Buddha sitting in the lotus position with his hands facing palms up forming the Dhyani Mudra, the gesture of meditation.


Cast in bronze, the Great Buddha stands at 13.35 meters (43.8 ft) high and weighs 121 tonnes (133 US tons).

Length of Face: 2.35 meters (7 ft 9 in)
Length of Eye: 1.0 meter (3 ft 3 in)
Length of Mouth: 0.82 meters (2 ft 8 in)
Length of Ear: 1.90 meters (6 ft 3 in)
Length from knee to knee: 9.10 meters (29.9 ft)
Circumference of thumb: 0.85 meters (2 ft 9 in)

At one time, the statue was gilded. There are still traces of gold leaf near the statue’s ears.

Also, there were thirty-two bronze lotus petals at the base of the statue, but only four remain, and they are no longer in place.

The statue is hollow, and visitors can view the interior. Many visitors over the years have left graffiti on the inside of the statue.

The Great Buddha of Kamakura is the second largest bronze Buddha statue in Japan, surpassed only by the statue in Nara‘s Todaiji Temple.