The Great Buddha (Daibutsu in Japanese) from Kamakura represents the Amida Buddha (Amida Nyorai in Japanese), also known as the Buddha of the Infinite Light, the main Deity of the Buddhist Sect Jodo (Pure Land).
Actually, Buddha is not a name, it’s a honorific term originating from the past participle of the Sanskrit verb Buddh, meaning “to awaken". So Buddha can be translated in English as “one who has awakened". In Japanese, Buddha is also referred as Butsu (written 仏 or 佛), hence Daibutsu (大仏 or 大佛) means Great (大 dai) Buddha.
Many interesting Buddhist traditions can be observed with a close-up look at the head of the famous Kamakura Daibutsu… The hair is represented in small spiral curls (called Rahotsu in Japanese), a hint to a legend about Prince Siddhartha (the Historical Buddha, the founder of Buddhism), who once pulled his hair into a top knot and cut it. After the cut, the hair spiraled into fine curls and he never needed to cut his hair again. The Amida Buddha statues are always represented with 656 curls.
On top of the head, Daibutsu has the Ushnisha (Nikkei in Japanese), a bump symbolizing the fact that Buddha is all-knowing and also symbolizing a fully developed top chakra. In front of the Nikkei, we can observe a circular object, the Nikkeishū (Nikkei Jewel), which “radiates the light of wisdom".
On the forehead, we can also see the Urna (Byakugo in Japanese), symbolic representation of the third eye, emitting rays of light and symbolizing that Buddha is all-seeing. Usually, Buddha statues have the third eye made of crystal or a similar material and the Kamakura Great Buddha is no exception: its Byakugo is made of pure silver, weighing 13.5 kilograms!
Finally, we must also observe the elongated ears, symbolizing that Buddha is all-hearing…
Great Buddha (Daibutsu), Kamakura
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: Koukamon, the very white gate