Monday, August 15, 2011

Kamakura Trip! (Day 2)

Day two!  First stop was Hokokuji Temple, famous for its bamboo garden.  Pictures, go!

I love how, in Japan, you can go from metropolis to forest in almost no time

Not sure why it's wearing a tuque...

Bamboo garden!

More garden

A cool dragonfly that we saw

Next stop was Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, one of the most famous temples in Japan, certainly the most famous in Kamakura.  Pictures!

Torii gate at the entrance

Cool bridge bro

Unfortunately the lotus plants weren't really in bloom.  The story goes that the lotus plants on either side of the bridge represented the two families that built up Kamakura: one side would bloom white, the other red, the families colours.  However, today, the plants have mingled, so red, white and pink show up on both sides.


This is a pineapple stand - yup, you can go buy a piece of pineapple on a stick

On our way to the temple!

Weddings are often held in this pavillion - it was too hot that day, though,
so we didn't get to see one =(

Who's this guy?

The guards got upset at me for taking this picture...

Next stop was Komachi-dori street, which is famous for Kamakura lacquerware.  Here are a few other gems that I found:

Gotta love the random French!

Ghibli store!

Next, we went to Hasadera Temple.  The garden here was so beautiful, I had to take pictures.

He looks so happy!

Before I get questions, no, that's not a swastika; yes, Hitler ripped off the Buddhists

These small statues, called 地蔵 (じぞう, jizou) are laid in memory of
miscarried and aborted children, or children who die very young

Now, I found out that my camera can take panorama shots and actually stitches them together for me - here are a couple that I took of views from the temple.  Unfortunately, they won't look amazing in the blog, so I suggest clicking on them to get a better view.

The day's final stop was the 大仏 (だいぶつ, daibutsu), or Great Buddha.  It was actually built in 1252, and was put together with over 30 different moulds.  A pretty impressive feat, I would say...

Gate leading up to the 大仏

People posing for pictures

It's actually really big.

This statue has survived countless earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis...  The priests at the temple tried time and time again to build a roof over the statue, but it would always get destroyed.  The statue, however, has remained largely unharmed...

It's customary to make sandals for statues of divinities, allowing them
to go out for a stroll, if they should so desire...
One of the "cool story bros" about the 大仏 is that the currently US president, Barack Obama, actually visited the statue as a child.  He returned there in 2009, and is quoted as saying 

"I looked up at that centuries-old symbol of peace and tranquility — the great bronze Amida Buddha. And as a child, I was more focused on the 'matcha' ice cream ..."

Since then, a myriad of shops have opened up selling Obama-cha, green-tea flavoured ice cream like he had as a child.  Here is a sample, though this one was swirled with sweet potato:

Obama-cha (green tea) and sweet potato ice cream
I had this for about 30 seconds, and you can already see it melting...
Finally, it was time to head home.  On our way back to the station, we happened upon a 100Y Shop, like the dollar stores back home.  Here are a few gems:

"A soft towel with the feeling that the touch is very sufficient"

Promenades dans Paris:
On nous demande toujours quelle race est ce chat-là.
Eh bien nous disons: on ne sait pas... on ne sait pas,
nous-mêmes, qu'est-ce que c'est comme race..."
And then!  In one of the stations, outside the bathroom...
Who the heck needs a map of the bathroom?!
Finally, it was time for the long train ride home.  A few of us were more tired than others...

Poor Tanaka-san...
That's it for the Kamakura trip!

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