A Day with Buddhas

Today was a busy day filled with traveling and sightseeing. We began the morning with a train ride to a city named Kamakura, which was home to multiple Buddhist temples. The first temple we visited, Engaku-ji, was a truly neat and eye-opening experience. I noticed beautiful architecture, multiple gates leading to the main hall, and lots of additional indoor and outdoor shrines where people worshipped, prayed, and meditated. Some halls even required us to take off our shoes before entering. One thing I found interesting was how many donation boxes were around the temples. There were boxes in front of deity alters for blessings and many statues without these boxes had coins scattered around the base as well.

The second temple we visited is the first of the Five Mountain Temples, called Kencho-ji (Engaku-ji is the second). The layout was similar to the first: we entered through a pair of gates to buildings arranged in a grid format. There were many statues scattered around the area here, too. I admired the detail in the architecture and statues, finding my time spent at the temple to be peaceful as a whole.

Walking around Kamakura had worked up my appetite so I went with a group of classmates to the "golden arches". It was interesting to see the similarities and differences of McDonalds in the United States compared to Japan. For example, the portion sizes are smaller here, they don't have Ranch, and they have special menu items such as the teriyaki burger and an egg burger. 

The last two stops of the day were at the Great Buddha temple and a beach bordering the Pacific Ocean. The Great Buddha temple houses the second largest Buddha statue in the world while the beach we walked along was where the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, Nichiren, was almost executed. I can't wait to see what tomorrow and the rest of the trip has in store for us!

Alex Knutson standing under one of the Buddhist gates leading to the main temple in Engaku-ji.
The Great Buddha is the second largest statue of Amida Buddha and is located in Kamakura, Japan