Kamakura – The Way of the Kami
The thing I love most about my home country, Malaysia is it’s diversity. Growing up, I was exposed to some of the world’s major religions – Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism – all at the same time in Malaysia. I’ve visited mosques, churches and temples, most memorable of all the Hindu festival Thaipusam.
But this was my first time visiting a Shinto shrine. In fact, I didn’t know anything about Shintoism until I took a course on world religions in university (it’s actually more interesting than what it sounds like). And I was excited to see Shintoism in the flesh here in Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. For starters, there is the ritual purification of temizu.
Basically worshipers wash their hands and mouth before approaching the shrine. I did my fair share of temizu too. As they say when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Purified and cleansed, I braved this mighty flight of stairs approaching the main hall.
Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the hall (I think), so I kept my camera in the bag. Nevertheless, it was fascinating to observe worshipers go about their business.
As I left the main hall, there was a little commotion going on outside. Following the crowd, I discovered there was a wedding ceremony taking place!
While I was thrilled to be observing a traditional Shinto wedding, I kinda felt bad for the couple because their wedding ceremony became something of a tourist attraction. Everyone just whipped our their cameras and started snapping away. Now their wedding will forever be immortalized in someone’s travel album
and in my blog.
After that, I wandered around the temple grounds some more. This wall of saké barrels really caught my attention. This two young ladies were so engrossed in taking a photo that they did not realized they walked into my shot. Regardless, I thought it was good to have a human touch in the shot so I included them in the composition.
All in all, it was a very interesting first visit to a Shinto shrine. I felt like I was on a school trip observing all the things I’ve learned in the classroom.
By then it was late in the afternoon and I’ve yet to have my lunch. Yes, I was behind my schedule by a mile. So it was time to leave, grab a quick lunch and head on to Kamakura’s most iconic attraction – Daibutsuden (The Great Buddha).
Note: Kami are the sacred deities worshiped in Shintoism