The morning was overcast, and I thought it would rain. By the time I got to see this Buddha Statue, the sun was out and I was feeling overdressed. As a note: there are many choices of what to see as far as tours go and I decided to take the tour that gave me both the freedom to hop on a train and go see whatever I most wanted to most see and to also be guided by a knowledgeable guide to suggest what i should look at. This tour fit the mold. The different temples were really interesting and the tour guide was both knowledgeable with a bonus of being both a Buddhist and a a practitioner of Shintu (the way of the gods.)
This, the previous statement of both practicing and respecting different religions itself is very interesting especially at a time when the courts in India are ruling on a Mosque and a Hindu shrine and who owns it that I got to hear of this religious practice that says let them all live together! Perhaps the judges had visited the Kamakura Temple that has both Buddhist and Shintu Shrines when the decided to have the shite be shared as important to both Islam and Hinduism (is that a word?) – It should be said that it remains to be seen if the supreme court will uphold the lower courts decision in India.
One of the pleasures of the tour was the Kotokuin Temple and the photo on this page is the great buddha. Stands over 40 feet tall and you can walk inside of it if you want.
After this we ended up having a good lunch and a Ice Cold Refreshing Asahi beer. Both the beer and the food hit the spot and it prepared us to go to the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. This shrine was Founded in 1063 and it is said that this is Kamakura’s most important shrine (the guide book said it was dedicated to Hachiman, the patron god of the samurai) – So as we walked to the shrine it was told that this path that I was walking on was only used by the most devoted samurai. It was a grand walk and entrance into the shrine and I learned about something Interesting. I noticed standing up many bulletin board like structures. On the structures were white pieces of paper tied to the strings. It immediately made me think of the western wall in Jerusalem. So I asked the tour guide about the papers.
So the Background: At the western wall you can write a prayer and leave it in the cracks in the wall. It is a way to leave a prayer to god (Call it a direct call versus a long distance call.)
So I asked; “were the Shintu worshipers leaving a prayer for the gods?”
Tour Guide Answer: No. The answer was interesting. The pilgrams (if that term fits) will go buy a fortune. If it is a good fortune they pocket it and take it home and if it is not they leave it there on the strings! So it is not a good thing, but it is a hope, It was not explained fully so I will guess it was tied there to ask the gods to protect them from the bad fortune or left as a returned item, who knows. What I can tell you is that the tolerance of the religious people I met was so high that they would have laughed at that joke or miss statement.
The rush hour train ride back to SHINJUKU station was fun and interesting — the people and/or culture observance was cool and next to a Friday night in Reykjavik Iceland it may have been one of the interesting cultural experiences that I have had in a while.
I am happy to say that the day was a success and now to rate the tour. I liked it because it gave me the freedom after the pickup to come and go as i want, there are many things to do in Tokyo and the surrounding area, I cannot tell you what may be better but I can tell you this was OK for me ad the event was made special by the tour guide and the people in the tour.
Off to Thialand tonight, another blog post tomorrow after breakfast (Saturday – here in Tokyo) the weekend begins.
I put some photos of the shrines on my public photo share site: http://yonaitis.shutterfly.com/