Tokyobling's Blog

Ofuna Kannon Temple – 大船観音寺

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on May 26, 2012

If you have ever traveled on one of the many JR Trains heading south west from Tokyo to Kamakura or beyond, you’re most likely to have seen or at least passed while unaware of it, the huge Ofuna Kannon Temple statue on the hill to the right just as you pass Ofuna station. I have been on that train hundreds of times and every time I passed Ofuna I always thought that someday I should get off and investigate that huge white statue up there. Technically Ofuna is part of Kamakura City, but due to the geography of the area Ofuna is almost completely cut of from Kamakura in the south, even though I have walked between the the two stations in about 45 minutes a couple of times. The Ofuna Kannon Temple is quite young, being founded in 1929 and only completed 1960 with the finish of the handmade 1900 ton heavy statue of the Bodhisattva Kannon. The temple is dedicated to peace and has a number of relics from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including some building stones and a flame taken from the fires that raged after the bombing and kept lit since then (you can barely see it in of one of the photos). The kannon statue itself is hollow and there’s a small prayer room inside with hundreds of miniature hand carved buddha statues with toothpicks for staffs in their hands. There’s also quite a few memorials to the friendship between the Japanese and the countries of South East Asia, and a lot of Vietnamese and Burmese people visit this temple. I saw one ema votive plate written in Vietnamese. I wonder what it says?

I visited the Ofuna Kannon Temple in spring, so the photos look a bit bare, also scenery in the middle of the day is as far from my preferred subjects as it can possibly get, hence the poor quality. I wish I had had a color negative film camera for this!


11 Responses

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  1. Emily Cannell said, on May 26, 2012 at 3:45 am

    I have always wondered what that was….


    • tokyobling said, on June 2, 2012 at 1:00 am

      So did I for a few years… (^-^) I’m glad I finally went there!


  2. pk1154 said, on May 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    If I were to claim a ‘favorite’ Bodhisattva, it would be Kannon: the epitome of mercy and compassion.

    (When I see Korean actress Yang Mi-Kyeong, I think of Kannon.)

    All those distinctly individual miniatures…such devotion…


    • tokyobling said, on June 2, 2012 at 1:01 am

      Ah, I don’t know enough about them to pick a favorite, but I have always been partial to goddesses rather than gods… (^-^)


  3. Lia Bistekou said, on May 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm



  4. cutenippon said, on June 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I passed there once on the way to kamakura but wasn’t sure what it was. I did get a few photos from the station and a really little cute japanese kid was asking his daddy what I had in my hands and what was a camera. Thanks for the awesome post that answered my couriosity.


    • tokyobling said, on June 5, 2012 at 11:03 pm

      Hi and thanks for the comment! Japanese kids are adorable! You must be proud to be his first camera experience…. (^-^) Next time you have time I recommend stopping at Ofuna. From there you can save the train fare to Kitakamakura station by walking the one stop and then enjoying the real Kamakura north of the city! (^O^)/


  5. savadi said, on November 15, 2013 at 12:27 am

    Hello, I found you via Kimono Gallery’s tumblr. I love reading your comments and looking at all the great photos. The translation for the Vietnamese prayer, my VN is rusty apologies if some of it is wrong-
    Today I come to you Ba Do Ho (which I think refers to the Mercy Goddess, Ba is used to address older women) to pray for my mother and sister to recover from illness and to live a long life. Please grant my sister and brother good health. Please grant my husband and two children good health.


    • tokyobling said, on November 18, 2013 at 3:56 am

      Hi! Thank you for the kind translation! It is good to know that this one is similar to the other prayers!


  6. Olivier said, on February 17, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    I was stroling the web looking for a precise vision of Kannon Bosatsu. I was looking for that special Kannon that I used to see on my way to Kamakura every time I could escape from Tokyo alomost 20 years ago. Your pics are exactly what I was looking for. What a refreshing view. Thank you !


    • tokyobling said, on February 21, 2017 at 8:01 am

      Thank you for the kind comment. I was there 15 years ago and it looked exactly the same as it did a couple of years ago!


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