Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Big in Japan

Today’s main objective was to see the Daibutsu, the Big Buddha of Kamakura. It’s a bronze statue, 30 feet high, constructed in 1252. It’s hollow, and for an extra 20 Yen--about 18 cents--you can go inside.

There are easy ways to get there, including buses and a small local train, but my father is fond of saying that sometimes the hard way is the easy way. This always seemed like a kind of koan to me, so I thought it might apply. I’m pretty sure, though, that we really did pick the hard way. We took a hiking trail that claims to only be 3 kilometers long, but it seemed a lot longer. It was hilly and muddy and flanked by steep drop-offs that reminded me that I’m not in the litigious United States any more. It was also beautiful, passing by various shrines and temples, including one that was a sort of 13th-century women’s shelter. (Women couldn’t get divorced legally, but if they spent 3 years living at this temple, they were declared divorced by local authorities.) We saw lots of torii gates, lots of altars, and lots of people actively praying and making offerings.

After all the walking we did on the trail and in the town of Kamakura, we needed to collapse for a while after lunch, but later in the day we went to a shrine near John’s house in Zushi. It’s a Shinto shrine, right on the water, and it has a haunting Torii gate on a small set of rocks far out to sea. I think the idea is to provide a gateway to the shrine to anyone coming from the water. A number of sculptures are on the shore, and it’s tempting to guess that the people who built it were fishermen looking for protection from the Pacific. Now, however, the only thing anyone on this stretch needs protecting from is all the dogs being walked on the sand. It’s very peaceful and a visit is a nice way to wind down a scurrying-around kind of day.

Here is my photo gallery from today.


Budd said...

It seems that the hard way was the most rewarding way.

Great pictures!

Nicole said...

Thank you! I'm glad you liked the photos. I will try to post them every day, although I won't always be near an Internet connection. It's amazing to me how easy it is to remain connected to the world now. When I traveled in China after college, I just dropped of the face of the earth for a few months.

Nicole said...

Yes, I think it was. My Dad's a pretty smart guy--but you knew that!