Kamakura is a delightful little coastal city located approximately 50 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. A mild climate combined with moisture coming off of Sagami Bay make Kamakura a very green place. The rolling hills in and around the city are covered by super lush forest. Nestled within this green landscape are a number of remarkable Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. I visited Hasedera, one of Kamakura’s famous Buddhist temples.
One of the interesting things about Hasedera was the hundreds of cement statuettes of monks placed together in neat lines on the temple grounds. I found out later that these statuettes are called Jizō statues. Jizō is a Japanese Buddhist divinity representing a Bodhisattva, an enlightened being who works to eliminate the suffering of other living beings. Jizō is particularly revered as a protector of the souls of stillborn, aborted, and miscarried babies.
Above Hasedera’s main temple complex was a hillside covered in hydrangea plants. A trail called the Hydrangea Path made its way up and around the hillside. The timing of my visit to Hasedera was quite fortunate, as the hydrangeas were in full bloom. The hillside was bursting with thousands of hydrangea blooms in what can be described as a sort of floral pyrotechnic display. I walked the Hydrangea Path along with hundreds and hundreds of Japanese Nationals. It felt exciting to be at in the right place at the right time, a place where even the Japanese visited in profusion.
Hasedera also had a large wooden deck which offered pleasing views of Sagami Bay and the portion of Kamakura along the waterfront. From the deck I saw dozens and dozens of surfers bobbing in the water of the bay. Little did I know that Kamakura is one of Japan’s most popular surf spots.
I really went crazy with snapping pictures at Hasedera. In many ways Hasedera and all of Kamakura was a photographer’s dream. I didn’t have professional photography equipment. But my Lumix DMC-LX5 took the best pictures it’s even taken. Maybe it was the lighting. Maybe it was the statues of the bodhisattvas. Whatever the case, I’ll be admiring those pictures for many years to come. I can only imagine what I could have accomplished with an SLR.