We managed to see a number of temples and shrines, during our two weeks there. Though all are somehow the same, they are all so entirely different at the same time (cliché, I know).
Meiji-jingu Temple – It was the first one we saw. After taking a stroll through Takeshita st, we went on to the torii that lead us in. Just having been walking through the bustle of Takeshita st., it seemed almost calm walking through the torii and the trees. Looking at all the beautifully decorated barrels of sake on one side, and barrels of wine on the other. Then hidden in a forest of trees, you come to the actual temple. We soon found ourselves steer towards the prayers that people had left. Noticing that they were in many different languages.
Senso-ji Temple – Walking towards the senso-ji temple, we found ourselves walking down a street with little shops on each side. You could find souvenirs, fans, kimonos, ice cream, and more. We found earrings with an origami bird hanging from it, which we bought. It was also here that we saw japanese walking around in their traditional outfits the first time. We made our way to the temple, and looked at how they gave a coin and clapped their hands. On another occasion we got to try it to, with the help from our japanese sister, Masako, telling us how. Beside the temple we found a stage, where a form of japanese traditional dance was being performed.
Soji-ji Temple – Located in Yokohama, this temple is part of a larger complex. Surprised we found ourselves walking around the complex with the many different buildings. We walked in to the visiting center, and found to Buddhists sitting pleasantly and chatting in a lounge area. Everything seemed so relaxed even with some renovation (judging by the equiptment and machines) going on. We walked up some steps to where there was a large bell, and we could look down at part of the complex.
Hasedera Temple and Big Buddha – The Great Buddha of Kamakura is the second largest Buddha in Japan. However, getting there you had to first go to Kamakura, and then leave the station to get in at another part, to get the local line going out. We were glad to had our personal guides with us. When you get up close, you appreciate how big it actually is. It is even possible to go inside him, though we didn’t. We then left the big Buddha, to go to the Hasedera Temple. There are a lot of lovely plants, as you walk up to it. Inside you will find a golden Buddha. As you go out, there is a nice view over the area.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu – While in Kamakura, we also went past this shrine. The most important in Kamakura, and in the middle of the town. If you are in Kamakura to see the Big Buddha, you may consider going past this shrine too.
Nezu Shrine – Nezu Shrine is one of Japan’s oldest shrines, and definitely worth a visit. Even if the shrine may not itself be enough to convince you, it is fascinating walking on the paths that take you through endless numbers of red torii’s (gates). There is a strange mesmerizing feeling walking through so many torii that are lined up after each other, creating a tunnel. It’s almost like someone is playing domino.