Kamakura

The Great Buddha of Kamakura, photo by JBGOn Monday July 20, I went to Kamakura, which was the capital city of Japan between 1192 and 1333. It is a religious hub with 65 Buddhist temples and 19 Shinto shrines. We hiked from temple to shrine and saw many but not all of them. Ginger and I were guided by our new friend Hiromi who is charming and lots of fun.

We visited the Great Buddha (32 feet high) at Kotokuin Temple. He is seated out-doors because in the 13th century a tidal wave washed away the massive temple structure that used to house him. He remains unmoved and most impressive.

Hase Kannon Temple is home to the famous 11-headed gilt statue of KannonStatue female diety, Kamakura, photo by JBG (29 feet tall). The many faces of the goddess symbolize various stages of enlightenment and she is a carved from the trunk of a giant camphor tree. WOW!

Julie With Fox, Kamakura, photo by JBGOne of my favorite shrines, paid tribute to foxes (inari) with thousands of the little buggers everywhere. It was charming!

Vampire Diety, Kamakura, photo by JBGI had a delicious, very Japanese lunch of soba noodles covered with a lovely pile of delicately arranged vegetables (I couldn’t tell you what most of them were).  We enjoyed a delicious cup of macha (thick green tea) and elegant sweet bean paste treats about mid-afternoon then on to the money laundering, I mean “washing” shrine , where you wash your money in the sacred stream and pray for it to bring you wealth. Hope it works!

The most magical part of the day happened after dark when we visited the largest shrine. There was an enormous lake filled with giant lotus, with leaves as broad as my torso and head-sized flowers of pink and white.  I took some photos but they are not very good. We had a lovely encounter with an 80 year-old man who spoke English and told us about the history of Kamakura, the shogun and women samurais. He included some fascinating and sometimes gory details the history books leave out. What a fabulous day in Japan!Hiromi With Paper Crane Chains, Kamakura, photo by JBG

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About Julie

The Asheville Butoh Festival is directed by the Asheville area butoh dancer, choreographer, and teacher Julie Becton Gillum. As founder of three modern dance companies, and ultimately Legacy Butoh, Gillum has been creating, performing and teaching dance in the US, France, Cuba and Mexico for over 40 years. Gillum’s primary form of artistic expression has become butoh, which she has been practicing, performing, and teaching since 1998. She has created and presented major pieces in the genre at a variety of venues in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Mexico. Gillum was awarded the prestigious 2009 Choreography Fellowship by the North Carolina Arts Council, which enabled her to travel to Japan to study with renowned butoh masters Yoshito Ohno, Natsu Nakajima, Akaji Maru, and Seisaku.