Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kamakura and the Great Buddha...

Hachiman-gu Shrine Park
To finish up my area orientation and intercultural relations class this week, we took a field trip to Kamakura, which is a small seaside town of temples and rolling hills.  Kamakura was Japan's capital from 1185-1333 before it moved to Kyoto and currently Tokyo.  It has 19 Shinto shrines and 65 Buddhist temples, but obviously we only saw a few of the more famous ones.

local ramen Ma and Pa shop with our interpreter
Shinto torii gate leading up to the shrine
When we first arrived in Kamakura, we went to this little Ma and Pa Ramen shop which open early especially for us.  This place was so small it could only feed 20 customers at a time.  The entire menu was Japanese, but luckily we had an interpreter with us so he help us order and it was amazingly delicious!  After lunch, we walked around the small, crowded streets and learned about some of the city's history.  We went to Hachiman-gu Shrine which is dedicated to the god of war and was built almost 1000 years ago.  We walked through several Shinto Torii gates on a long road leading up to the shrine.  Apparently, by walking through the gates it's supposed to cleanse each part of your body ending with a water cleansing station so by the time you reach the shrine, you're entire body and soul will be cleansed.  The shrine was situated on the side of a tree covered mountain, making it picturesque with the autumn colors.  There were also a few koi ponds to walk around on the grounds.

"Mmm" statue as a gate keeper of a shinto torii gate
Hachiman-gu Shrine

small shrine on the park grounds

trying to throw up the peace sign
I think my favorite part was when I was people watching.  There was a little girl about 3 or 4 dressed in a kimono (with long sleeves because she's single of course), and random people starting taking pictures of her.  She tried to put up the Japanese picture taking peace sign to mimic a bystander and she accidentally held up 3 fingers instead.  It was so cute I just couldn't help taking a picture!  I loved it!

Great Budda (Daibutsu)

Not too far away was the Great Buddha (Daibutsu).  This towering bronze statue is one of Japan's National treasures.  It was built back in 1252 and has survived through several tidal waves, typhoons and earthquakes.  Its proportions are actually distorted so that it seems balanced to those standing in front of it.  When you think of Japan and a buddha statue, you are probably picturing the Great Buddha.  I was even able to go inside the buddha and rub his belly!  Of course you have to make a wish when you do that also.
tasting green tea ice cream
On the walk back to the train station, we had to stop for some green tea ice cream at a local stand.  This stand just so happened to be the same stand that Obama stopped at the week before on his visit to Kamakura.  How would I know that, you ask?  Well, they had a picture of Obama taped below the plastic ice cream choices.
They have a Big Boy!!!  See dad, we can have a family vacation in Japan!

No comments:

Post a Comment