After just a day in Kamakura, I totally regretted not extending my stay there. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to take my parents to see the famous daibutsu, or Big Buddha that resides in the area. However, I didn't expect to be blown away by the gorgeous surroundings! Kamakura may only be around two hours from Tokyo, but it's right next to the seaside and has some amazing views all around. There's nature everywhere you look, and you can definitely feel that distinct freshness of the ocean in the air.
We almost didn't go inside Hasedera (長谷寺), but figured that since we'd already come this far it might be worth a look. Thank goodness we did, too! This had to be one of the most interesting temples I've visited so far in Japan. It had so many things to explore, from koi ponds to a zen garden and a secret cave. I was baffled to discover that they even had free wi-fi available onsite.
I was immediately drawn to this striking wall of Jizo statues, but the meaning behind them is much more solemn. The figures actually represent the souls of stillborn, aborted or miscarried babies, and are placed here by their grieving families. While the statues are regularly removed to make way for new ones, it's estimated that 50,000 of them have been offered at Hasedera since World War II.
Keep climbing the seemingly endless flights of stairs, and you'll be rewarded with a stunning view at the top. It was cold and I was totally out of breath, but it was worth the exercise! I never thought I'd see such gorgeous seaside views in Japan, but was gladly proven wrong.
As much as I would've loved to explore all day, the sun was going down fast so we had to cut our visit short. I definitely hope I'll be able to visit Kamakura again one day though! It has so many other shrines and temples to offer that I feel like I barely even scratched the surface.