October 30th 2006

Probably the most famous attraction in Kamakura is the Daibutsu (great buddha). So after having visited the Engakuji temple complex at Kita kamakura and having walked along the beach (Pacific ocean) we went there.

With my wide angle lens I could go really close and got this picture without any people in the front and with a nice perspective distortion.

A big group of school children had come to see (and learn about?) the Daibutsu as well

Some tried their English, asking me how old I was, but apart from that single sentence I dont think they spoke the language. As I asked them to make a guess, they looked confused and kept on repeating the question. When I switched to japanese, they were impressed...

This is what the inside of the statue looks like. Yeah, you can go inside (it is over 11m tall) and actually it is quite spacious still (except for the entrance and the stairs). The stairs and platform further up were closed. They lead to the windows in the back of the buddha. The hole in the middle is the neck/throat.

From the buddha we walked the first part of the Kamakura Hiking Trail to the Zeniarai Benten shrine (zeni-arai means "coin-washing"). It is said that money washed in the shrine's spring will double, so we tried. According to a website about the Kamakura temples and shrines: Zeniarai Benten Shrine is a nice surviving example of the fusion of Buddhism and Shinto. Lay worshipers may not know whether this is a Buddhist temple or a Shinto shrine until they find red torii gates at the entrance. However, there is an incense burner in the courtyard and the area is fragrant with incense, which puzzles visitors anew and make them wonder again if this is really a shrine.

I like this place very much, because it is one of a kind. It is a small place with a lot to see. There is a row of torii at the entrance, a pond with a bridge, koi (carp) and a waterfall and in the cave with the holy water to wash your coins, lots of strings of origami-cranes hang down from the ceiling. This panorama shows the inside of the cave