Tokyo is such an amazing city, and just so busy. The big shopping districts and department stores are really exciting, but my favorite part of the trip so far is Kamakura. In Kamakura we visited the Hase (Buddhist) temple, which was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. The temple included these beautiful gardens, full of ponds and mini waterfalls and flowers of all kinds. We walked through the gardens to the actual temple, magnificent in white and ebony, and saw the giant golden Kannon statue. The entire interior of the temple had a solemn, respectful atmosphere, and there were many people praying sincerely before the Kannon. On the temple grounds there was a little resting area, and I felt like I could just sit there all day and not move an inch without feeling bored or restless. The temple provided me with a serene calm that simply did not exist when we were rushing around Tokyo, as much as I love the city, and I really appreciated the opportunity to get myself back in balance.
I’m really looking forward to Shirakawago and Gokayama and the experiences with traditional life and culture we’ll have there, and I’m also half excited, half terrified to get to Kyoto and meet my host family. Hopefully I’ll find my brain and Japanese skills packed with my luggage when we get there.