An American Couple Walks around Kamakura

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Date & Time: Monday, September 11, 10:45 am – 4:00 pm
Spots: Kotoku-in Temple (Great Buddha), Hasedera Temple, Hokokuji Temple, Sugimotodera Temple, and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Visitors: An American couple in their 20s
Attendant: 1 KSGG member
Language: English

The couple came from New York and this was their first trip to Japan. On the day before this tour, they climbed Mt. Fuji. It was the last day of the official climbing season. In Kamakura, they were very eager to visit as many temples and shrines as possible. Under the blue sky in the lingering summer heat, first thing in the morning, they visited Kotoku-in Temple. They were moved to see the magnificent presence of the Great Buddha despite their gentle eyes. At Hasedera Temple, when they saw the gilded statue of Juichimen Kannon (Eleven-headed Kannon), they seemed to misunderstand that the small heads carved on the Kannon are depictions of the Buddha as a child. So I explained that the heads are Kannon who observes all directions to save all living creatures, especially, human beings, Amida who guides people to heaven, and Jizo who guards children.
After they enjoyed the beautiful Moso–dake bamboo grove at Hokokuji Temple to their heart’s content, the visitors as skilled walkers also went to Sugimotodera Temple, the oldest one in Kamakura. After eating up Tendon (a bowl of rice topped with deep fries) and Katsudon (a rice bowl with pork cutlet) as a late lunch, they walked around the precincts of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. I told them that there are not so many Japanese people who are devoutly religious. Most people, regardless of their religion, participate in both Shinto and Buddhist traditions. The lady said that the situation is similar in the U.S. and that her husband does not go to a Catholic church on Sundays, though she attends mass every Sunday as she is a devout Catholic. At Mt. Koyasan and Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes, which they were to visit, what kind of impressions did the young couple have on the religious views of Japanese people?