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Hasedera (長谷寺) is a temple of the Jodo sect, famous for its eleven-headed statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The 9.18 meter tall, gilded wooden statue is regarded as one of the largest wooden sculpture in Japan and can be viewed in the temple's main building, the Kannon-do Hall. According to legend, it was carved from the same tree as the similarly tall Kannon statue worshiped at the Hasedera Temple in Nara Prefecture.

Adjacent to the main hall is the Kannon Museum, a small museum that requires an additional entrance fee. It exhibits some more of the temple's treasures, including Buddhist statues, a temple bell and a picture scroll. Explanatory signs are in Japanese, and an English pamphlet with basic explanations is available. On the opposite side of the main hall stands the Amida-do Hall with an almost three meter tall, golden statue of Amida Buddha.

Hasedera is built along the slope of a wooded hill. The temple's main buildings stand halfway up the slope on a terrace which allows for nice views of the coastal city of Kamakura. There is also a small restaurant where Japanese sweets, meals and beverages are served. Along the stairs leading up the slope stands the Jizo-do Hall with hundreds of small statues of the Jizo Bodhisattva who helps the souls of deceased children to reach paradise.

The temple entrance is located at the base of the slope. A pretty garden with ponds welcomes visitors as they enter the grounds. A small temple hall in the garden is dedicated to Benten (also known as Benzaiten), a goddess of feminine beauty and wealth. Sculptures of Benten and other gods can be found in a small cave (Benten-kutsu) next to the hall.

source: japan-guide.com

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