Dates visited: March 30, 2013
We made a day trip to Kamakura (31 miles southwest of Tokyo) to visit Kōtoku-in, a Buddhist temple famous for Kamakura Daibutsu (The Great Buddha of Kamakura). This serene hollow bronze statue at 44 ft tall is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan, and just being in the presence of such a huge entity make you feel humble.
From there, we visited the beautiful Hase-dera temple (aka Hase Kannon) that houses a 30 ft wooden statue of Kannon, a bodhisattva associated with compassion or the goddess of mercy. Unfortunately, no pictures are allowed of this statue made of camphor wood and gilded in gold. The temple complex was alive with sakura (cherry blossoms) and amidst this moment of celebration, it was touching to see hundreds of small Jizō statues (guardian of children), placed by parents who had lost their babies to miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion.
From Kamakura,we traveled to Kyoto in a Shinkansen (Bullet Train). We had already sent our luggage from Tokyo to Kyoto using the convenient takuhaibin delivery service. Kyoto would be our base for the next few days—seeing the peak sakura (cherry blossom) bloom and making a day trip to Nara.