Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Japan Part 3.... Kamakura Shrines

So I had to share my favorite part of the trip to Japan. We did venture over to Disney Sea but I decided to not post pictures on that because it basically just looked like Epcot. Lots of fun though!

Kamakura is an amazing area. It is brimming with shrines and temples- we only made it to two and I wish we would have had time to go back and see more. Pictured below is Kotoku-in, or the giant bronze statue of the Great Buddha (the guessed age of this statue is that it was built around 1252. Now THAT is some amazing history. The temple around the Buddha was washed away by a Tsunami in the 15th century)

 You can pay 200 yen to go inside the statue, but really there isn't much to see and its close quarters and BAKING hot.

We had lunch at a great little local place that felt very authentic (tiny little place, tiny little bathrooms, no english or forks. Lots of pointing at pictures!) But the food was delicious- I of course got gyoza and rice because that's my safety net.

Afterwards we visited the Hasedera Temple. I had to do some googling afterwards to see what some of these statues were about- I would love to see when the hydrangeas are in bloom (its what it is known for) but this is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. 

and then there's the boys....

These statues, I later learned, are called Jizo. They are placed by parents that are mourning the death of child, a miscarriage, or an abortion. In each temple there were prayer candles and offerings- many of them involved something pregnancy related.

This is the main temple. We weren't allowed to take pictures of the shrine inside, but wow, they were so beautiful. Inside is a statute of the god Kannon. It was actually refreshing to not be allowed to take pictures, because it felt like it really would have taken away from the beauty and the sanctity of the shrine. I lit a prayer candle for happiness for my family =)

The temple is built on two levels. Above are the shrines and gardens, and below is a cave called Benzaiten Grotto. It is a shrine with very low ceilings and is filled with prayer statues to Benzaiten, who is the goddess of the sea. 

We sat on a bench drinking cokes, looking at the temple and out over the water, and I tried to picture it like it must have once been. Now it's a tourist attraction with power lines coming over the temple, but it has seen so much history. (Again in the Kamakura period, around 1192.) I tried to picture this peaceful temple up on the hillside of Japan, completely remote and without people and crowded by houses. Even so, the energy of this place was surreal and definitely the highlight of my trip.