Inside The Buddha
I can't wait to blog my pictures when I get home. It's just a bit too tricky for me to do it from Japan, but this trip has been a great stimulator of my shutter-finger. The Japanese are so photography-happy that I rarely feel bad or self-concious snapping away at people and things. I'm still getting used to my camera, though, and it's frustrating not to quite know all its powers. I think one of the pictures I wish I could have had bigger camera for is the inside of a Giant Buddha's skull. That's right, I was taking pictures of the inside of a Giant Buddha. Here's a substitute account
, including a photo centered on what I'm thinking is the inside of the Buddha's chest: but I'd have to disagree with the caption--it's not scary in there at all. Maybe it's because I was surrounded by bouncy school children and chuckling senior citizens, but I found the inside to be quite delightful, inspiring an almost romantic ebullience. One minute you're outside in the open, and its serene and everyone is well-behaved, and then the next minute you're inside a bronze cave with light and shadows and shallow echoes, and everyone is giggly. There ought to be a little joy inside of enlightenment, right?
The whole day, in fact, was quite delightful. If I ever become a wealthy novelist, I could totally see myself taking a writer's vacation and just hanging out in Kamakura for a few weeks---going on leisurely hikes and studying the fantastical gardens in slow detail. It's clearly a tourist attraction, but a Japanese tourist attraction--Michelle and I saw no more two or three other westerners all day. (I've neglected to mention that the "we" of previous posts is me and my college amiga, Harvard physics student Michelle Cyrier, who is on her way to China for an extended string theory collaboration. When I get back you'll see her in some of the photos.) Rather like the bay area in climate, the town is full of neat and narrow lanes---pretty angled houses nestled in between hilly groves of bamboo and cypress, and ancient temples. From the Daibutsu to the biggest wooden Buddhist scultpure in Japan to its oldest Zen monastery to an impromptu hike up the monastery's mini mountain, today provided a nice counterpoint to Tokyo's urban density. I was particularly charmed by the sight of hundreds of schoolboys running up the monastery lanes and about a third of the way up the mountain, and back, chattering at each other as they panted and raced past Zen monks, all decked out in baseball uniforms. I wonder if I would have been inspired to take my 7th grade weekly mile-run more seriously in such an ancient setting. I wonder if they'd find the rose gardens of Pasadena an equally exotic setting for P.E.