Japan: ICC, Ginza, Hase Temple, Big Buddha

Hase-Dera, Kamakura, Kanagawa

Hachiko, Shibuya, TokyoFriday we traveled around Tokyo, visiting the ICC Museum and seeing the sights of Ginza at dusk. The ICC was fascinating, with a bunch of interactive electronic displays, including a 3D chamber and a pressure-sensitive “gravity” floor. Really cool stuff. You can check out more at the ICC website. Before moving on, we stopped at the Shibuya station to see the statue of Hachiko, a dog who returned to the station every day for ten years after his master died. The statue is a very popular attraction, and there was a crowd of people around it taking pictures with cellphones. I think that, more than just taking pictures around Tokyo, taking pictures with a point & shoot camera instead of a phone is what really marks me as a tourist.

Kabuki Theater, Ginza, TokyoWe got to Ginza at 4:45, with fifteen minutes left before some of the streets that were closed to allow pedestrian traffic would be opened to cars again. Ginza transitions to streets of lights and sounds as the sun goes down, and might be the part of Tokyo most reminiscent of Blade Runner at night. We did a little shopping and quickly walked to the Kabuki theater, but only to take pictures before we went to a gyoza dumpling restaurant for dinner.

Kamakura Daibutsu, Big Buddha, KoutokuinYesterday we went to the coast southwest of Tokyo, in Kanagawa, to visit two temples. Unfortunately, because it was a holiday and the weather was great, everything was packed. The first temple was Hase-dera, built into the side of a hill with a view of Yuigahama beach and the ocean. Also unfortunately, my camera battery started to run out, so I couldn’t get as many pictures of the architecture as I wanted, but we did turn the sutra before moving on to the big buddha. This was one of the most amazing things I saw on the trip so far, a huge, almost 50 foot bronze sitting buddha. Surprisingly, this wasn’t quite as busy as Hase, though the line to go into the buddha wrapped around the base, probably a 30 minute wait at least. We came up with a joke, “What’s inside of buddha?” “Nothing.”

Driving out of and into Tokyo on a gorgeous holiday weekend is difficult, and we were stuck in traffic for a while both ways. Once we got back home we went out to a ramen house, which was delicious just as all the food here is, and I played some video games with my brother before we went to bed. Today is a day of rest before our trip to Kyoto tomorrow.

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