Hase-Dera Temple

jizo hall

This temple is beautiful and well worth the trip.

Just beyond the main gate are beautiful gardens, a pond and the path to the upper level.

This is jizo-do hall, the first structure you see after following the path. In it Fukuju Jizo ("happy" Jizo) is enshrined. Around it are THOUSANDS of little jizo statues.


This is a close-up of the rows and rows of jizo in this area.

The statues are there to comfort the souls of unborn children as they navigate the afterlife.

Frequently, the jizo are given little knitted caps and bibs to keep them warm in the afterlife.


This is Kannon-do Hall.
It contains a 30 foot golden statue of Hase Kannon. We weren't expecting to see something of that size in this building and it took us by surprise as we rounded the corner from museum and saw it in all its glory.

It is a very old statue. The wooden statue supposedly washed ashore at Nagai beach , sending out rays of light (it seems that quite a few of the religious statues of the Japanese mysteriously appear in local bodies of water). So they built this shrine for it.

The gold leaf was added in 1392.


These are some of the statues surrounding Kannon-do Hall.


This is the Kyozo Sutra archive.

The picture is of a rotating bookrack in the building, called a rinzo, where the important Buddhist sutras for the temple are kept.

We occasionally saw a person walk in there and push the bookcase through a full rotation or two.

My trusty pamphlet says the reason for this ritual is the belief that by turning the rinzo, one can earn the same merit as from reading all the sutras.

Seems like cheating to me.
I doubt that enlightenment comes through taking short cuts.


Outside the Archive was a beautiful Japanese garden and this grove of tall bamboo.



All of Hase-Dera was a garden but the centerpiece was a tall hill lined with a variety of hydrangeas - many of which were in full bloom this time of year.

There was a path winding up the hill allowing many views of the flowers and the area surrounding the temple.


At the top of the hill you could see the town of Hase, the Yuigahama/Zaimokuza beaches and Sagami Bay.



The trip up the hill, the flower viewing, and the spreading vistas were quite popular.



On the way down the path we saw some more jizo statues near the observation platform.

They are wearing the bibs I mentioned earlier



As we were leaving the temple grounds we noticed a small cave with a path leading into it.

Naturally, we had to explore.

It was Benten-kutsu Cave in which Benzaiten (a sea goddess) and 16 children are chiseled out of the rock walls.

It is very dark. Pretty much the only light is that provided by the candles left in offering in front of the statues.

To add to the atmosphere, the walls are damp and the ceilings of the passageways between caverns are so low that you have to travel through them stooped over.

Pretty cool.

This is the view as you leave the hall. You can see prayer tablets hung on the wall on the left.



The Daibutsu (Great Buddha) was our original reason for visiting Hase. But I am glad we visited Hase-Dera temple first because the atmosphere here was anything but reverent or respectful. It resembled a carnival rather than the holy place that it is.

The Daibutsu has been here since 1252 and was originally contained within a huge hall (that was washed away by a tsunami in 1495).

People have been making pilgrimages to this 850 ton bronze statue for more than 700 years.


This is a shot of the buddha in a more serene setting.



Here are the daibutsu's sandals.

I guessed he walked here.

I'm surprised he doesn't use them again to flee the commercialism rampant at the temple.

I suppose it is taking a while because he is probably a little stiff after sitting in the lotus position for so long.


This should give you an idea of the scale of the sandals.

us and buddha

The traditional shot in front of the Daibutsu and proof that we both were actually here.