We’re down to our last day, and I was excited to go back home but I didn’t want to leave yet. It was confusing, so I tried my very best to focus my attention to our plans for that day. We would catch a flight early morning the next day, might as well take pleasure in the jiffy. I thought to myself, “I’ll cross the bridge when I get there...”
To start Day 7, I had some photos taken with my ever darling cherry blossoms. Well, my emotion shifted instantly from being anxious to peaceful.
Sakura, the national flower of Japan, is highly symbolic beyond its obvious beauty. There are a lot of beliefs and association to the cherry blossoms that are not solely Japanese in nature. Cherry blossoms can be found in other temperate parts of the world, and widely used as inspiration in various art forms – musicals, manga, anime, film, paintings, clothing and even dishware.
Sakura symbolism also includes some Buddhist beliefs, and this influence can be seen in Kotoku-in temple in Kamakura. The Great Buddha of Kamakura, one of the most popular emblems in Japan, sits in Kotoku-in Temple. It is a hollow bronze statue that has a history of over 760 years. It used to be housed, but after a tsunami in 1498, the effigy was left outdoor. We were able to get inside the Buddha. It was such a sanctuary and the holiness of the place is palpable.
Kamakura features Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.
Uniquely enclosed with high rock walls is the Zeniarai-Benzaiten shrine - zeniarai means "coin washing" and Benzaiten is a Buddhist goddess. The holy place shows the blending of local sacred principles and foreign Buddhism, and is the second most visited site in Kamakura. We faithfully went there to experience the rituals first-hand.
First, we washed our hands upon entering the shrine to purify ourselves just like what did when entering other temples.
Zeniarai Benten Shrine (銭洗弁天) is a popular shrine in western Kamakura, which people visit to wash their money (zeniarai means "coin washing").
It is believed that washing your money, with the spring water in the shrine, will eventually double it. This is so TRUE!
These colourful balls are facial soaps and they help soften and smoothen the skin. We bought the ones with gold because they are known to a have a moisturizing and anti-aging effect.
I’m grateful to have experienced this other side of Japan. The hundreds of years in their history are not simply about revolution and innovation. More so, these years meant strengthening their ancient beliefs and traditions, and were proof of the Japanese’ deep love in preserving their culture despite progress and modernity. Japan is a land of contrast, indeed. Yesterday (see post here), I had so much fun exploring the magical Disney Sea and Disneyland, and now other religious spots.
What an awesome day! To cap it off, we did some shopping in Shibuya for the rest of the day and night. Shibuya is the shopping district where famous boutiques and night clubs are located. There were a lot of great finds and I was so delighted to bring some more mementos back home. Oh my, I still couldn’t believe our week-long vacation was already over. It was very fruitful, informative, moving and rewarding all at the same time. I will definitely be back next year!
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