My first attempt at describing this amazing day wouldn`t publish. I guess it`s too long. Since sleep continues to elude me, I`ll try again.
The Tokyo subway system is an absolute underground maze. We took several trains and buses and finally emerged at our destination an hour away. We were off to see the Great Buddha.
On the way, we came upon what Yoshino called "the ladies shrine". It was a temple created by the first chief nun, widow of a Shogun, in 1285 as a refuge for battered women. The law did not provide women the ability to divorce, but they could get one after living here three calendar years. It is nicknamed "The Divorce Temple". Chanting permeated the air along with birdsong and peace was my only feeling here. It is also a huge cemetary built along a hill with paths and stone steps framing Zen gardens and small monuments. It is just lovely.
We found a cute restaurant where we slurped Soba noodles and ate tempura. The toilet was Japanese-style: very low to the ground. Luckily there was a rail to use and hold myself over it. My knees couldn`t do the job.
We walked to Kencho-Ji Temple next. It is a compound of beautiful old Japanese architecture with a Buddha in every building. The most disturbing one was "Fasting Buddha". It resembled Starving Buddha to us with exposed ribs and a gaunt, sad face.
Here we made a 500 yen ($5) requested charitable donation for the victims of the recent earthquake and "accident" to experience a tea ceremony. Little girl apprentices to lovely Geisha served us and taught us how to drink tea. Everybody drinks green tea that is earthy tasting; an acquired taste.
Then I was invited by an older woman to learn simple flower arranging. It was a memorable visit where I felt respected and cared for. Did I say how much I love the bowing?
We went next to Kamakura Shrine where people leave prayers and wishes. We watched a lovely traditional wedding. People prefer getting married at shrines. Tourists took pictures of this very intimate looking event. On our way out, we met another party parading to the pagoda. I bowed and they smiled back.
The Great Buddha was beautiful. We washed our hands in the appointed watering place before entering the grounds. The gardens everywhere were spectacular! I bowed and prayed as I did at each site in thanks and gratitude. I passed on paying 20 yen to walk inside the Buddha, though. It just seemed wrong.
Our glorious day left us hot, exhausted and my feet "bahkin`". So we ended with delicious Chinese food. We`ll not see Yoshino again until Friday when he will once again play tour guide.
We`re taking a bus tour of the city today as our first official tour. I haven`t had much sleep. Time for an espresso.