If while rolling down the JR line south from Yokohama you happen to past through Ofuna, make sure to look out the left window of the train and you’re sure to see the giant bust of Kannon sitting proudly atop a hill. I have seen the statue many times while making my way from Yokohama down to the wonderful town of Kamakura, but had never taken the time to see Kannon up close, even though the temple lies less than fifteen minutes from the station.
The top of Kannon’s head rises over sixty feet from the ground. Carved from two thousand tons of concrete and coated in a white, paint like coating (which turns out to be paint, go figure), this particular statue was built in part with stones from the blast zones of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Kannon is a goddess of mercy, and represents mercy and peace worldwide throughout Asia. The statue was originally meant as a prayer for permanent world peace, but the construction of it was ironically halted by the advent of WWII. The statue was not completed in its present form until 1960, and has since been a popular destination, especially if you’re doing a Kamakura temple run.
As spring will quickly (finally) be upon us here in Kanagawa, flowers have just started to bloom, including the odd rogue cherry tree. At the base of the temple, one such tree was flowering brilliantly in soft pink. Kannon was quite beautiful in the clear day and wore a very peaceful expression. Inside the figure was an ornate shrine with some interesting instruments nearby with the largest wooden block I’ve ever seen. There were dozens of small wooden carvings within as well. The Temple hosts a festival in September prompting international residents and visitors to open stalls, with an array of vegetarian dishes from around the world and other cultural displays.
I just might come back then.