Kannon-dō (Main hall)
|Address||3-11-2 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture|
Hase-dera (海光山慈照院長谷寺 Kaikō-zan Jishō-in Hase-dera?), commonly called the Hase-kannon (長谷観音?) is one of the Buddhist temples in the city of Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, famous for housing a massive wooden statue of Kannon.
Legend has it that the temple was established in the Tenpyō era (729-749 C.E.). However, documents at the temple suggest that the temple really came into its own during the Kamakura period (1192-1333).
The statue is one of the largest wooden statues in Japan, with a height of 9.18 metres (30.1 ft), and is made from camphor wood and gilded in gold. It has 11 heads, each of which represents a different phase in the search for enlightenment.
According to legend, the statue is one of two images of Kannon carved by a monk named Tokudō in 721. The camphor tree was so large, according to legend, that he decided that he could carve two statues with it. One was enshrined in Hase-dera in the city of Nara, Yamato Province, while the other was set adrift in the sea to find the place with which it had a karmic connection. The statue washed ashore on Nagai Beach on the Miura Peninsula near Kamakura in the year 736. The statue was immediately brought to Kamakura where a temple was built to honor it.
Seven buildings make up the temple complex.
The temple is built on two levels and also includes an underground cave. The cave, called benten kutsu (Benzaiten Grotto), contains a long winding tunnel with a low ceiling and various statues and devotionals to Benzaiten, the sea goddess and the only female of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japanese mythology.
The temple is famous for its hydrangeas, which bloom along the Hydrangea Path in June and July.
The grounds of the temple are home to hundreds of small Jizō statues, placed by parents mourning offspring lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion. These statues remain in place for about a year, before being removed to make way for more statues; it is estimated that some 50,000 Jizō statues have been placed at Hase-dera since WWII.
The temple is the fourth of the 33 stations of two different pilgrimage routes:
Sanmon main gate
View over Kamakura's Sagami Bay coast
Entrance to the cave Benten-Kutsu
- For an explanation of terms concerning Japanese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhist art, and Japanese Buddhist temple architecture, see the Glossary of Japanese Buddhism.
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- English language pamphlet from Kaikozan Hasedera
- Kannon - Goddess of Mercy--Pilgrimage in Japan
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