Just a few more days before I am off on holiday back to the states for a week and a half. Tonight we decided to ride the train into Kamakura looking for last minute goodies for the families; naturally we made our way over to Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū (鶴岡八幡宮). This is a large Shinto shrine (note: shrines are Shinto, temples are Buddhist), and arguably Kamakura’s most important shrine. However, this shrine is notable because it was ORIGINALLY started as a Buddhist temple and stayed as such until 1868 when it was converted to a shrine. In Japan Buddhism and Shinto have a very unique way of mixing together, such that if one were to visit either temple or shrine there would be elements of both in each. There is a saying in Japan, “Born Shinto, die Buddhist,” and it truly embodies just how intertwined both are in the lives of the Japanese. Unlike in the West, religion is not inflexible; rather, is it fluid, flowing with the harmony of society.
Afterwards we headed back for a well-deserved meal of hot udon, considering we couldn’t feel our hands at one point.
We made one final stop in Kurihama before heading into our nice, warm apartment. There is a small shrine dedicated to safe birth for expecting mothers, and it has lanterns leading all the way up.