Buddhas and Purple Sweet Potatoes of Kamakura

KamakuraWe 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. MapI 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. At the beach 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.

MonkI filmed a little video to give you a sense of the scene. Outside, you can see:

  • 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!

Buddha Candy Cigarettes

Buddha Candy Cigarettes

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!

Buddha on the Train

Buddha on the Train

Categories: Japan

11 replies »

  1. I liked seeing the temple and the pictures of the buddhas. My favorite buddha was the triple sweetness buddha. Did you have a favorite? I like green tea ice cream and the sweet potato ice cream sounded good. I would like to try the soft serve one day.

  2. Sounds like you had a great time!
    One of the pictures you took in the shopping street looked like a booth for selling origami! Was it?
    Why is the water in Japan warm? When was the giant Buddha of Kamakura built? Where did you take the picture with many Buddhas (in the collection of photos of Buddha and hydrangea flowers)?

  3. I have not had a global experience this summer, but your Buddha part of the trip reminds me of my vacation in Cape Cod. There are just as many Hydrangea’s and great ice cream as well! So if you like Hydrangeas Ms. Krakaurer, you can take a trip to Cape Cod too! I tried ginger ice cream there, and they have green tea ice cream in Portsmouth NH, that I have tried. How was the green tea and sweet potato ice cream in Japan?

    • Dan — that’s so neat about the hydrangeas! Yes, they are a very pretty flower and I wish I had a chance to see them on the Cape too. Ginger ice cream sounds yummy. I really liked the green tea / sweet potato too. It mostly just tasted like ice cream 🙂

  4. It’s cool how Buddha was everywhere and I really want to experience going into the giant Buddha and walk inside him. Also I’ve never heard of green tea and sweet potato ice cream before. Finally when you ate those fried patties did you like both flavors? Did you only like one flavor?

  5. The Triple Buddha Sweetness statues are so cute! How big was the hollow Buddha statue? In the video it looked like you were in the body. Could you go into the head? How far away was Kamakura from Tokyo? The sweet potato and green tea soft serve looked so good!

  6. All those Buddhas and hydrangeas looked so breathtaking and amazing! My favorite Buddhas were the sweetness Buddhas because they looked so adorable. The purple hydrangeas were really pretty and I wish I could go there in a way. Also, Japan sells the weirdest things, from sweet potato and chocolate fried patties to sweet potato and green tea ice cream swirl. Also, the monk in the video was really cool. It had a weird looking helmet and and was chanting. All in all, that day seemed really cool.

  7. I found it very funny that Japan has mcdonalds seeing that it very far from America and America has mcdonalds too!i thought only America has McDonald’s I had know idea it was a world wide buissness! I found this amazing ! Thank for information!

  8. I loved seeing the pictures of the Daibutsu. My mom has been to Kamakura and told me that Daibutsu means “big Buddha” in Japanese. She loved visiting Kamakura so much, that she got a tattoo of the face of the Daibutsu on the back of her neck. I would love to see the Buddha candy cigarettes, and taste the sweet potato ice cream.

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