CULTURE

Hase Kannon 1300

Hase Kannon is a towering statue of Kannon (a future Buddha) that gives its name both to the temple which houses it (Hase-dera) and to the surrounding area (Hase) in Kamakura. According to legend, the statue was one of two crafted from a single massive camphor tree in 721 in another Hase, far away in Nara, before being cast into the sea and eventually washing ashore here in 736. The temple was established that year to accommodate the statue of the merciful Kannon.

On the 1,300th anniversary of the 721 crafting of Hase Kannon, we paid the temple a visit.

The old gate and celebratory new lantern at Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

The familiar red paper lantern at the gate of Hase-dera has been replaced by this celebratory golden version.

In the garden beyond the gate, a dragonfly rests on a lotus bud. 

Dragonfly on a lotus bud in a garden pond at Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

Kikyo, known in English either as balloon flowers or bell flowers. The sheltered bell flower at the center doesn’t know the ballooning time of day.

Kikuo bell flowers in the garden of Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

And showy lilies.

Showy lilies in the garden of Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

Benzaiten (aka Benten), the goddess of water, the arts and everything else that flows, is well represented at Hase-dera.

Statue of Benzaiten (Benten) with eight arms on the grounds of Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

Here she is again, playing the biwa lute in the Benten-kutsu cave…

In the Benten-kutsu cave, images of Benzaiten (Benten) and her sixteen followers are chiseled out of the rock walls  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

… and here, dedicated miniatures of the same image, dripping with dew.

Miniature Benzaiten (Benten) statues dedicated in their hundreds in the Benten-kutsu cave  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

But if you are at Hase-dera on Kamakura’s Seven Lucky Gods circuit…

Daikoku-do hall, Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

… Daikokuten, the god of whatever it is one’s heart desires, is the deity to whom you’ll want to report.

Head of the large wooden statue of Daikokuten, Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

Hase-dera is set into the face of a hill. To see Hase Kannon, we must ascend the hill from the garden at sea level via steps.

The first terrace on the ascent is home to the countless statues that have been dedicated here over the years in the name and image of Jizo, the beloved guardian of children and the souls of children lost.

Jizo statues dedicated at Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

On the next terrace, the Kannon-do hall, viewed here from beneath the belfry. The hall has been rebuilt, restored, and rebuilt again many times over the centuries.

Roof of the Kannon-do hall at Hase-dera, Kamakura, viewed from under the eaves of the Shoro Belfry  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

The exquisite 9.2-meter, eleven-headed Kannon statue stands at the back of the Kannon-do. The wooden statue has undergone numerous repairs and changes over the centuries, most notably in 1342 when it was first coated with gold leaf. Photography is not allowed inside the hall…

Kannon-do hall, Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

… so let us instead share this, a smaller eleven-headed Kannon statue, carved at the turn of the seventeenth century. This statue was formerly venerated in the temple hall but is now exhibited in the splendid new Kannon Museum, where photography is allowed.

Eleven-headed Kannon statue on display in the Kannon Museum on the grounds of Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

This is the original temple bell, cast in 1264. 

Original temple bell of Hase-dera on display in the Kannon Museum on the grounds of Hase-dera, Kamakura JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

This is the rinzo rotary repository of sutras in the Kyodo, the Sutra Hall. One rotation of the repository is said to be the equivalent of reciting all the sutras held therein, so quite a big time saving to be made here. 

Rinzo rotary repository of sutras in the Kyodo, the Sutra Hall, Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

Sympathy for the demon? Jikokuten puts his foot down.

Statue of Jikokuten on the grounds of Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

There is an observatory with tables, chairs and vending machines on the Kannon-do terrace, but it’s possible to ascend still further to an upper platform. This is the view from the top over Hase.

View over Hase and Sagami Bay from Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

We’re looking towards Zushi, Hayama and, in the distance, the tip of the Miura peninsula.

View of Sagami Bay and the Miura peninsula from Hase-dera, Kamakura JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

The way up is the way down. That’s the roof of the Sutra Hall in the foreground, with the Kannon-do hall and belfry beyond.

Roof of the Sutra Hall, Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

Our visit is complete. Congratulations and thanks to the Hase Kannon.

May the Jizo be with you.

Jizo statues on the grounds of Hase-dera, Kamakura  JAPAN JOURNAL PHOTO

 

Text and photos by Alex Hendy, TJJ ONLINE, The Japan Journal, Ltd.

Related post

  1. Kanazawa: In the City of the Mae…
  2. Theatrical Leanings
  3. Guidance for the Guardians of Eg…
  4. Enoden: Beside the Seaside, Besi…
  5. Tokushima “vs Tokyo”
  6. Nara: A Capital Place
  7. Treasures of the Toolbox
  8. Beautiful Biei
PAGE TOP