Non-Dorky Poll: Giant Buddha Smackdown

A simple question: We have the Great Buddha at Nara:


and the Great Buddha at Kamakura:


Which is better?

(Unfortunately, that’s the best picture I have of the Nara Daibutsu. The camera has a million different modes, selected by a clicky wheel on the top, and the wheel kept getting spun to odd settings as I put the camera in and out of the case. The other shots I took in Nara were all blurry, because it was on some low-light-level setting and took really long exposures.)


  1. #1 Moopheus
    September 25, 2007

    Next time bring a film camera. I don’t have those problems with my old Nikons.

    I’d go with Kamakura. The other seems to be go more in the direction of deification, which of course the Buddha would have rejected.

  2. #2 ancientTechie
    September 25, 2007

    I like the fact that the buddha at Nara is waving: seems friendly!

  3. #3 Dave Munger
    September 25, 2007

    I think I have to go with Kakamura. Statues seem more down-to-earth when pigeons are sitting on their heads.

  4. #4 mollishka
    September 25, 2007

    The second is meditating and outside and less tackily adorned; it wins.

    I personally always really liked the reclining Buddhas carved into mountainsides. There’s one in central Vietnam (I think that’s where it was, near Hue perhaps) that’s in a cave and you’re just walking around and it’s like, whoa! that’s a big Buddha!

  5. #5 Colin M
    September 25, 2007

    Kamakura. Free of frippery.

  6. #6 Alioth
    September 25, 2007

    Kamakura. Hardcore enough to meditate in the rain.

  7. #7 Owen
    September 25, 2007

    Agreed, Kamakura (though I really do like the Budai best of all depictions).

  8. #8 Qalmlea
    September 25, 2007

    Kamakura. I like the open space and the posture and the overall simplicity.

  9. #9 James
    September 25, 2007

    Between those two, Kamakura. The humility, and serenity do it for me.

  10. #10 The Ridger
    September 25, 2007

    Between those two, it’s Kamakura all the way.

  11. #11 Anne-Marie
    September 25, 2007

    I like the one at Nara, it just seems friendlier. How old are each of the monuments?

  12. #12 mollishka
    September 25, 2007

    Wait, how is this not a dorky poll?

  13. #13 Badger3k
    September 25, 2007

    I’d join the Kamakura votes. The outside view, the simplicity, and the coloration win hands down. I know tastes are different in different cultures, but I agree that Nara looks tacky and just too “busy” – like a lot of the Indian temples.

  14. #14 Bert Chadick
    September 25, 2007

    Well, Nara has lots of little Buddhas floating in the background, and has the sense to come in out of the rain. Also he is much easier to spell.

    Kamakura has the whole rugged outdorsey thing going, and the pigeons are nice. K-Dog has that whole Zen simplicity thing happerning, or not happening. You understand. As art goes, the Kamakura is better. As Iconography goes, I don’t know what better means. They both communicate “Buddha in yo’ face Mo Fo!”

    All your Buddhas are belong to us.

  15. #15 Jon H
    September 25, 2007

    Kamakura. Among reasons noted above, I’ll add that the patina makes it look better, and most importantly, it looks a lot like the golden plastic Buddha that came with an old (12″) GI Joe set we had when I was little (along with a helicopter and a rubber cobra.)

  16. #16 Michele
    September 26, 2007

    Kamakura has always been my favorite.

  17. #17 Perry
    September 26, 2007

    The second one, cause I was born in Japan, and have a picture of my dad holding me in front of it!!

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