The temple gate holds a plaque inscribed with Kotoku-in’s official name “Daii-san.” The gate was moved together with a pair of Nio (Vajrapani) images, enshrined inside the gate, from another location and rebuilt in the beginning of the 18th century.
The hall that originally housed the Great Buddha was built on a total of 60 cornerstones, 56 of which survive today. All are made from pyroxene andesite mined at Nebukawa (Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture), located some 40 kilometers west of Kotoku-in. Some of these stones are now used as garden stones or water basins.
Bronze Lotus Petals
Behind the Great Buddha sit four bronze lotus petals. These were cast in the mid Edo period (1603–1867) with the intention of creating a lotus pedestal for the Great Buddha. Though the original plan was to cast 32 petals, only four were actually completed. The donator’s name is inscribed on the front of each petal.
The Kangetsu-do Hall is believed to have been part of the imperial palace in mid-15th century Hanyang (present-day Seoul), Korea. In 1924, the former owner of the building, Kisei Sugino (1870–1939, president of Yamaichi Goshi Kaisha [later known as Yamaichi Securities Co., Ltd.]), moved it from the Sugino mansion in Meguro, Tokyo, to Kotoku-in, donating it to the temple. The Hall houses a standing image of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva (Kannon Bosatsu), believed to date from the late Edo period.
Waka-* and Haiku-inscribed Tablets
*31-syllable Japanese poem
Kamakura ya Mihotoke naredo Shakamuni wa Binan ni owasu Natsukodachi kana
Here in Kamakura
the sublime Buddha is of another world,
but how like a handsome man he seems
adorned with the green of summer.
Akiko Yosano (1878–1942). Waka-inscribed tablet erected in 1952
Akitomoshi Tsukue no ueno Ikusanga
I face my desk
in soft autumn light—
By Nobuko Yoshiya (1896–1973). Haiku-inscribed tablet erected in 1973
Daibutsu no Fuyubi wa yama ni Utsuri keri
the soft light of winter
shining on you,
moves on to the mountains.
By Tatsuko Hoshino (1903–84). Haiku-inscribed tablet erected in 1973
Haru no ame Kamakura no namo Yawaragite
The spring rains,
melting the kamakura
snow huts of the north,
soften even the word—
By Kensai Iimuro (1883–1928). Haiku-inscribed tablet erected in 1933
Note: This haiku plays on a pun of the place name Kamakura and the snow huts in northern Japan known as kamakura.
Teradera no Kane no sayakeku Narihibiki Kamakurayama ni Akikaze no mitsu
How clear the chimes resound
of the temple bells.
The hills of Kamakura,
filled with autumn winds!
By Kunen Kaneko (1876–1951). Waka-inscribed tablet erected in 1932
Three Japanese black pines (Pinus thunbergii) stand alongside the path leading to a slope to the left of the Great Buddha. These were donated to Kotoku-in by members of the royal family of the Kingdom of Thailand (formerly known as Siam) to commemorate their visit to the temple.
○ Memorial Tree Commemorating the Visit of Crown Prince Vajiravudh
Crown Price Vajiravudh (later King Rama VI) of Siam visited the temple on December 27, 1902 and planted a pine tree in a corner of the temple grounds. Unfortunately, however, the tree suffered insect damage and died in September 2009. The pine tree that is currently growing in this spot is a substitute tree that was planted by the Royal Thai Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, under the royal order of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) of Thailand on July 3, 2010.
○ A tree planted by King Prajadhipok
King Prajadhipok (Rama VII of Siam) and the Queen planted this pine on a visit to the temple on April 9, 1931.
○ A tree planted by Prince Vajiralongkorn
This pine tree was personally planted by Prince Vajiralongkorn on a pilgrimage to Kotoku-in on September 25, 1987.
Warazori (traditional Japanese straw sandals)
On the inside wall of corridor to the right facing the Great Buddha rest a pair of huge warazori (length: 1.8 meters; width: 0.9 meters; weight: 45 kilograms), a gift from the Matsuzaka Children’s Club of Hitachi-Ota City (Ibaraki Prefecture). The warazori were first woven and donated by the children in 1951, at a time when Japan was still recovering from the ravages of World War II, with the wish that “the Great Buddha would don them to walk around Japan, bringing happiness to the people.” The Matsuzaka Children’s Club keeps this tradition alive to this day: since 1956, they have continued to make these giant warazori and present them to Kotoku-in once every three years.
This shop sells an array of good-luck charms and other souvenirs.
Commemorative Seal Service & Administrative Office
Visitors are welcome to stop in here to obtain the temple’s commemorative red seal (goshuin). Application forms are available at the office.
Purchase tickets here.