Hase

  

Hase Station is a station located in western Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. It is served by Enoshima Electric Railway’s Enoshima Electric Railway Line. The station has two side platforms and two tracks.

 

Three of Kamakura’s many sights are located near Hase Station. These are:

 

Hase Kannon Temple (Hasedra)

 

Hase Kannom Temple, better known as Hasedra, is a temple of the Jodo sect of Buddhism dedicated to Kannon, the goddess of mercy, whose statue here is the main attraction of the temple. Hase Kannom Temple is also part of the 33 temples (ranked number 4) of the Kanto Pilgrimage.

 

Hasedra is located on a sloping hill overlooking the sea. The entrance to the temple grounds is at the base of the hill. The first thing that one comes across upon entering the grounds is a beautiful garden with ponds, fountains, and stone lanterns. Next to the garden is a small hall, called Benten Hall. This contains a statue of Benten, the goddess of feminine beauty and wealth. Next to Benten Hall is a small candle-lit cave, called Bentenkutsu, with several smaller sculptures of Benten and other minor gods. The main temple buildings are built on the slope of the hill and are reached via stairs after crossing the garden. On both sides of the stairs on the hillside are thousands of small statues of Jizo, the guardian deity of children. These statues represent the souls of miscarried or stillborn children and have been placed there by the parents to be looked after by Kannon.

 

The first temple building is Kannon Hall which contains the famous statue of Kannon. There is also a Treasure House in Kannon Hall which has artifacts from the periods starting from Kamakura to Edo. Next to Kannon Hall is Amida Hall which has a 3-meter high golden statue of Amida Buddha. This statue is said to have been commissioned in 1189. Daikoku Hall comes next. This hall houses an image of Daikokuten, the god of fortune. A few steps away is an observation deck with beautiful views of the sea and Kamakura city. There is also a restaurant that offers Japanese snacks, sweets, and drinks. In front of the restaurant is a small building that houses the Kyozo Sutra Archive. The sutras used in the temple are placed here on rotating book racks called rinzo. It is believed that rotating the rinzo gives as much credit as reciting the sutras.

 

The Statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy and love, in Kannon Hall is the main attraction of the temple. This 9.18 meter tall statue is said to have been carved of a single piece of camphor wood by a monk named Tokudo in 721 in Nara city, Yamato Province. After the statue was carved, it was set adrift in the sea to find a place by itself wherever it had its karmic connection. The statue is said to have been washed ashore near Kamakura in the year 736. The statue was brought to Kamakura and the temple was built at its present location to honor the statue. The statue has eleven heads in addition to the main one – 3 to the left, three to the right, one at the top and one at the back. Each face has a different expression signifying its blessings to all types of people. In its right hand the statue holds a tin staff, and in its left hand a vase of lotus flowers. In the year 1392, a halo was added.  

 

Hase Kannom Temple is located 5 minutes walk from Hase Station. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and entry is 300 yens.   

 

Kotoku Temple

 

Kotoku Temple is a Jodo Buddhist temple famous mainly for its huge statue of Amida Buddha. This monumental bronze statue of the Great Buddha, called Diabutsu, sits outside the Kotoku Temple. At 13.35 meters high and a weight of 93 tons, Diabutsu is the second largest Buddha in Japan. It was cast in 1252 by sculptors One Goroemon and Tanji Hisatomo on the idea and instructions of priest Joko. The statue is seated in a lotus position with hands folded in meditation style. This Great Buddha was originally kept inside a temple hall but after the temple was washed away by a tsunami in 1498, it was kept outside in the open. It was repaired and strengthened in 1960 to protect it against earthquakes. This beautiful bronze Buddha is an icon of Japan.

 

Kotoku Temple is located 7 minutes from Hase Station. Entry to the temple grounds is 200 yen, and to look inside the hollow statue is 20 yen.

 

Zeniarai Benten Shrine

 

Zeniarai Benten Shrine is the second most popular spot in Kamakura. This shrine is extremely popular because the water of its spring is said to have the power to multiply the money that it comes in contact with it. Thousands of believers come here every day to wash their money in the spring.

 

Zeniarai Benten Shrine was founded in 1185 by the first Kamakura shogun, Minamoto Yoritomo. He had a dream in which he was told by Ugafukujin, the god of harvest, to go to a spring at this place and pray for the welfare of his people. Minamoto went to the spot he was told to go to and truly found a spring gushing out of the rocks there. He then had a shrine built at the place and dedicated it to Ugafukujin. An interesting and unique feature of the shrine is its fusion with Buddhism. Since Minamoto had the dream on the day of the snake, as well as the month and year of the snake, the shrine was also dedicated to Benten, the Buddhist goddess of wealth, also associated with snakes. Zeniarai Benten Shrine is one of the few surviving fusions of Shintoism and Buddhism, as most shrines were stripped of their Buddhist connections by the Meiji government who sought to separate the two religions.

 

Entry to the shrine is through a long tunnel in the rocks. Since the shrine buildings are built on a rocky hillside, they are all at different levels and are connected by stairways. The popular spring is inside a cave near the buildings. High brick walls surround the shrine grounds, so the buildings are all invisible from outside. 

 

Zeniarai Benten Shrine is about 10 minutes walk from Hase Station.

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