The third day in Japan was much better with respect to the weather. Although the earthquake happened that day. We did not feel it though. We only got to know about it when our train got delayed by 15 minutes once.
We visited Kamakura this day. Like on the the colleagues familiar with Japan had told me, that looked more like the Japan you see in the movies. No high rises. Wooden houses and shops. Many were selling some souvenirs. I bought one more, but no luck with Kimonos here.
Kamakura has this huge Buddha Statue, which is hollow from inside (you can pay 10 yen and go inside). Apparently the insider was used to keep the money and gold. From what the tour guide told us (it did not look like that to me), the posture of Buddha there is slightly forward bending. This means that he is eager to meet you; does not matter who you are – rich or poor, healthy or sick. Also, Buddha has long ears there, which supposedly means that he is there to listen to everyone.
Then we visited the Hase Temple Garden. Its a beautiful garden and has a Buddha temple inside. In the temple, there is an impressive statue. We were not allowed to take photos. There was the usual praying routine of throwing a coin and bowing. There was also this ritual of writing one letter of the Buddhist Sukta on a stone and put it in a box. Essentially each devotee writes one letter and so everyone together completes the sukta. Each letter was written on a page and you turned the page after writing the letter and depositing the stone in the box, so that the next person could write the next one. Neat, isn’t it?
The temple also had an exhibition, much of which was not understandable, as the labels and descriptions were in all Japanese. But they had an exhibition which showed all different forms Buddha has taken. I do not remember the number, but I guess it was in 30s. Not sure if Buddhism in India has any such concept. But does this not look terribly similar to the “avatar” concept of Buddhism. The status depicting all the form had all kinds of weird stuff including laughing Buddha and one with a devil’s head. There was also a concept of different devilish looking people protecting Buddha. Do not know where does all this come from. Buddha, we know of, was more human and down to earth- not so divine and royal.
We had seen this even in Meji Jingu shrine. There is this custom of writing your wish on a wooden plate and hanging it at a designated place. Again looks very similar to the custom of tying a thread around a tree for your wishes at many places in India.
I ate some wonderful rice cake in a small restaurant there. You also get a wonderful view of Pacific ocean from one of the points.
If Sony and Panasonic showrooms are impressive for their functional and useful innovations, NTT Museum of Communication was fascinating for the playful kid in you. You could play games where you touch the shadow and they disappear. Where you touch something and a different kind of shadow get projected. I am not able to describe it picturesquely. Not quite my area of expertise I guess! You have to see it to feel fascinated.
And then Akihabara – the electronics market that absolutely blows you off. I managed to buy a car audio system for my dad, which he really wanted to come from Japan/China. But I did not have time to buy some more stuff I’d have liked. (Cheap, cheap – external hard drive and some other cool, affordable stuff). Like Kimono – some other time – 😦 At dinner, folks enjoyed a particularly strong form of Japanese Wine (I forget the name)!
On Day 4, we visited fish wholesale market, where auction of Tuna is carried out. With rains pouring in again, it almost reminded me of vegetable markets in the the towns I have lived in, only much bigger in scale of operations!
More in next post.