We had one free day in Japan. Otherwise, we were busy studying Education for Sustainable Development, visiting schools, and planning collaborative projects to do next year with our students. After getting some recommendations from local friends, I decided to escape the bustle of Tokyo and head to a small beach town called Kamakura. It seemed like a good idea to dip my feet into the Pacific Ocean and see a town that had been the seat of the Japanese government for over a century. I had heard that there were lots of temples in Kamakura, but I didn’t really know what to expect. As it turned out, it wasn’t quite as small a town as I expected. Here you can see some teachers and I trying to figure out the map. I even took a photo so that I could look at it later if we got lost! You might notice a familiar fast food joint in the background too. We decided to head out of town towards some of the temples, but took a wrong turn and ended up on a busy shopping street. We couldn’t resist! We stayed there a bit and explored.
We stopped to get a bite to eat too, trying out some fried patties from a tiny side of the road stall. We tried two flavors: chocolate and purple sweet potato!
Eventually, we made our way to the beach, and it really was quite peaceful to be on the outskirts of town. The water was surprisingly warm and reminded me that this was NOT the Atlantic Ocean. Eventually, we made our way to our first temple, Daibutsu, the Giant Buddha of Kamakura. It was truly worth the trip. We got to see it from outside, go inside (he was hollow!), and even check out the size of his sandals.
- A monk with some sort of round head piece, ringing a bell and chanting, holding a singing bowl to collect money
- Tourists taking pictures
- People lighting incense and using their hands to bring the smell closer to their noses
Inside, you can see that it was tight quarters and pretty dark, but you probably can’t tell how hot it was. The sun heated up the metal, making the inside of the Buddha quite toasty. Here’s the little video I filmed:
From there, we wandered over to another temple, which we saw labeled on the map, but knew nothing about. It turned out to be a gorgeous site! There were more hydrangea flowers and statues of Buddha than I’ve ever seen in one place. I’m so glad that we didn’t miss out on seeing the Hasedera Temple! I’ll let the photos speak for themselves (click on a photo to see it bigger and scroll through the others):
After a beautiful day, we left the temple and stopped to get some ice cream. I decided to stay on the purple and green theme and I chose a swirl of those two colors — green tea and sweet potato soft serve!
As we walked the streets of Kamakura, we continued to see plenty of Buddhas. They even sold Buddha candy cigarettes. How strange!
Finally, we boarded the train to head back to Tokyo. Sure enough, there was Buddha to keep us company on our journey. What a great day!