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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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6 thoughts on “Kamakura – The Way of the Kami

  1. With all the temples I’ve been to in Japan I have yet to see a wedding at one, so lucky you! The sake barrels are amazing, kind of reminds me of the ones I saw at the Meiji Jingu Shrine a few years back. Great pictures, as always! I’m looking forward to seeing the ones you took at the Daibutsuden.

  2. Amazing shots as usual Vincent! 🙂

    The one I love the most is the shot of the sake barrels! OMG those are huge! I wouldn’t have realized if there weren’t two people in front of it to give it perspective.

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