This is my entry into the Japan Blog Matsuri, hosted by the Nihon Sun. (See this link: http://www.nihonsun.com/2009/05/07/japan-blog-matsuri-may-2009/)
My favorite place in Japan to visit is the Daibutsu Buddha in Kamakura; I could visit monthly and spend hours there and still never tire of it. Somehow its impressive and imposing position and serene countenance symbolize the peace that I look for inside of me. With most places, but especially here, I learn more and see something different every time I visit.
The Buddha is one of those common scenes - if you saw a picture of it, it would be something you would recognize as a symbol of Japan in general. It was built in 1252 and was originally enclosed in a temple, until a typhoon destroyed the temple. So since 1495 it has just been sitting in the open air with some surrounding areas for worship. The statue is 37 feet high. Just its eyebrow is over 4 feet long and the ear is over 6 feet. The area around it is tree-filled, and like Kamakura in general, the mountains are visible from at least three sides. Considering it resides in a small city, it is a true oasis. A few years ago when my friend, professor and mentor, Dulce, was visiting, she and I went and sat on a rock by the side of the statue and just stared up at it for what seemed like hours. By the time we stood to leave, it was after 5pm; the sun was beginning to set and the area was nearly silent so we didn’t need to talk. The serenity was palpable.
However, on that particular trip, as we got up, I happened to take one last look at the front of the statue – there were about ten or twelve people there, all of them staring upward, with one arm up, holding up their mobile phones to take a photo. It was absurd. Here was a figure from the 11th century, and people in the twenty-first century are flashing their mobile phones at it. Dulce and I sat down to recapture the mood and stayed until the guard kicked us out because the temple closed at 6pm. Tourists or not, no one was going to disturb our inner – and outer – sanctum.