Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cherry blossoms in Kamakura

Leah, Carrie, Kelli, Christina and I at the Great Budda
Christina, Leah and I at the main shrine
Yesterday was the first time I was able to get away from Yokosuka in a while.  Some of the other nurses and I went to Kamakura to check out the cherry blossoms.  Although they were only at about 50% bloom they were still very pretty and worth the trip!  We went to the main shrine and the Great Buddha, both of which I visited when I first moved here, and we also checked out the Hase Kannon Temple.  It's nice to see the sights in  different seasons.
The long walk through the torri gates to
the main shrine.  Even though they weren't
at full bloom, it was still pretty!

Local vendors wearing "Don't Give Up, Japan" shirts.
Many local Japanese street vendors are all working together to support their country during this time of disaster.  Part of the proceeds went towards a fund for the people of Sendai and the other surrounding towns that were devastated during the earthquake and tsunami.  I thought it was pretty cool to see them all wearing "Don't give up Japan" t-shirts.

Hase Kannon Temple
All the statues representing loss of children and
The legend behind the Hase Kannon Temple is actually pretty interesting that I just learned about.  Kannon is the Japanese goddess for mercy.  As legend has it, in 721 a pious monk discovered a large camphor tree in the mountain forests near the village of Hase in the Nara region (close to Osaka a few hours south-west from Yokosuka).  He realized the trunk of the tree was so large that it provided enough material for carving two statues of the eleven-headed Kannon.  The statue he carved from the lower part of the trunk was enshrined in Hasedera Temple near Nara.  The statue from the upper half (actually the larger one) was thrown into the sea near Osaka with a prayer that it would reappear to save the people.  Fifteen years later, it washed ashore at Nagai Beach on the Miura Peninsula not too far from Kamakura, sending out rays of light as it did.  The statue was then brought to Kamakura and a temple was constructed to honor it.  Today, people come from all over to honor their lost children from miscarriages by placing miniature statues at the temple to be watched over by Kannon.
Cherry blossoms next to the koi pond at the main shrine
Cleansing station at the Great Buddha.
Cherry blossoms at the Great Buddha
View from the top of Hase Kannon Temple.  The land in the
distance is Miura Peninsula.
Cherry blossoms in a park walking from the train station in Yokosuka
One of the many delicious sushi-go-rounds!!  SO GOOD!

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