Monday, October 20, 2008

Kamakura

The JFMF program has a very structured schedule and Saturday was my only day off. Four of my new teacher friends and I decided to make the most of it. While the thought of sleeping in was very tempting because we are all so jet lagged (tired,) the desire to explore another part of Japan won out. We did not want to waste too much time traveling back and forth from our hotel to another area of Japan so after much thought we decided to visit Kamakura.

Kamakura (鎌倉市) is a city on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in the prefecture of Kanagawa. It is only about one hour south of Tokyo. Its beaches, temples, shrines, and proximity (closeness) to Tokyo makes it a popular tourist destination and the perfect place for a few American teachers to get a small taste of what Japan has to offer.

Hasedera Temple is one of the temples in this city. It is most famous for its statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. It is a wooden statue that shows Kannon with eleven heads. Each head represents one characteristic of the goddess. At 9.18 meters tall (30 feet), it is the largest wooden sculpture in Japan. It was made in the 8th century from a single piece of camphor wood.

My pictures show the temple garden and a pond, with a bamboo water fountain and stone lanterns. The Bentendo, a small hall near the pond, contains a figure of Benten or Benzaiten, a goddess of feminine beauty and wealth. Next to the Bentendo is a small cave, Bentenkusu, which contains candle-lit sculptures of Benten and other minor gods.

From the terrace next to the temple’s main building visitors can get a great view of the city of Kamakua and the Pacific Ocean.

We also had a chance to see the Great Buddha of Kamakura (大仏,). It is a bronze statue of Amida Buddha. It is located on the grounds of the Kotokuin Temple. At 13.35 meters or about 44 feet, it is the second largest Buddha statue in Japan. It weighs 93 tons. He is HUMONGOUS!

Kamakura was an absolutely beautiful region. The air was clean and crisp. I was so inspired by the surrounding I took about 250 pictures! I am so glad that we decided to spend our only day off in such a wonderful place!

4 comments:

Lzevin@cwcbore.org said...

Do they celebrate Halloween in Japan?
Miss Zevin

Anonymous said...

Hello Miss Vecchione-It's great reading about your journey. So glad you are enjoying this experience!
Mrs. Tufano

Anonymous said...

Although this is not a topic you have written about, the Kindergarteners are interested to know if they celebrate Halloween in Japan.

Miss Vecchione said...

In the past Halloween was not really celebrated in Japan. Now it is becoming more popular. From what I understand, children do not dress up and go trick-or-treating, but people enjoy decorating for the holiday. I have seen decorations in stores, outside of businesses, and even in some of the schools. If I learn anything else about Japan and Halloween I will let you know!