The Great Buddha of Kamakura
Ahhh Kamakura. I really enjoyed visiting each time I was here. I came two years ago with a group of awesome people from Hope College, and got to go again with a group of awesome people from CIEE. Although, Kamakura is only about 40-50 minutes from where I live, so I really can just go whenever I feel like it. And I will feel like it again! Haha!
We started off touring a shrine close to town called the Hachimangu. A bunch of candy stands lined the road up to the main shrine, so on the way back many of us got a candy apple or candied grape. It was like the greatest lollipop. There were even candied strawberries, and I want one of those too (next time, Emily). The coolest part was the two traditional Japanese weddings happening there. It is always neat to witness these rare ceremonies because it reveals another part of Japanese culture and tradition. Music was also playing from inside one of the shrines for the ceremony. I didn't get any good pictures because I was hesitant to infringe on their special day.
Near Kamakura station is a Studio Ghibli shop that I absolutely love. Studio Ghibli shops are not too too common, so whenever I see anything with Studio Ghibli characters on it, I freak out. I could buy the whole store ( bye money, I didn't want to go to college anyway! Haha, just kidding). But really, after we had lunch at a restaurant where we took our shoes off before entering, we took a short train to see the Great Daibutsu. This Buddha is amazing! You can even go inside! Its construction began in 1252, and has never been built on since its completion. It is totally original! I ended up buying a mini Buddha figure of the larger one because I love Buddhas ( in case you wanted to know what to get me for my birthday....). I took a Japanese religions class at my home school, and have always admired the teachings of Buddhism. The mini statue looks like the Daibutsu, so it will always remind me of my time there.
Next we went to the Hasedera temple, which has a beautiful garden and koi pond. Many parts of the temple are built in layers on the side of a hill, so you have to walk up a decent amount of steps to see everything. It also has an excellent display of Jizo statues, and a giant Kannon statue inside one of the buildings. There is definitely a lot to see there, including a great view of the sea. Once we arrived there it actually started raining, and then continued to pick up once we returned to Kamakura station. I'm glad the rain waited until the end though (otherwise my shoes would have been soaked all day). It did kind of infringe on my plans to explore Kamakura some more, but next visit I will succeed!