Thought you might be interested in the pool report of his trip to see the statue, which he also visited at the age of six. Obama is now wheels up and headed back to Washington from his ten-day Asia trip.
From the pool report:
Chilly (helicopter) ride over gray Yokohama. After 10 minutes, sprawl gives way to green hills, colored with yellows and reds.
Helo bends around a hilltop, descending into a middle class neighborhood of two-story homes, public parks and tennis courts. Helos land on a field surrounded by a track, belonging to the Commander U.S. Fleet Activities.
Motorcade rolls out of the compound and into streets lined with people. Appears much of the town turned out to see POTUS drive through, big clusters in front of grocery stores, at intersections. Miles and miles of the route are lined with onlookers, including along a stretch of where a group of surfers paddle around futiley on a glass-top sea.
Statue height is 11.31 meters (with plinth included 13.35m), it’s face alone 2.35m alone. It has 656 coils of hair and weighs 121 tons.
(Website for more info: www.kotoku-in.jp/en/about/characteristic.html)
About a 15-minute drive to temple, and shopkeepers all out to see him (an ice cream store has a “Welcome President Obama” sign over the door.)
POTUS walks up a central path lined with pines, other trees, his shirt collar open, toward the Great Buddha. He is greeted by a man and woman in traditional Japanese robes, whom he greets with a handshake and small bow, and tells them he visited years ago. Can’t hear much else.
The Japanese couple are Michiko Sato, director of the Kotoku-in Temple, in cream-colored robes; and, Dr. Takao Sato, the 15th chief monk of the temple, in purple robes.
They walk together the remaining 50 feet to the base of the Buddha (you can see why it made a lasting impression on the six-year-old Obama – it’s enormous, with a lovely green hilltop as background flanked by two trees with yellowing fall leaves.)
The three walk around the site – the Buddha is surrounded on three sides by low, tile-roof buildings.
Along the way, POTUS signed a guest book, writing the inscription: “It is wonderful to return to this great treasure of Japanese culture. Its beauty has stayed with me for many years.”
The three enter what looks like a gift shop, and a few minutes later, POTUS emerges carrying a small bag (pool told he purchased two bracelets for the girls.) Then poses sitting on a bench for some pictures with his guides. He also bought an ice cream bar inside, which he eats while sitting on the bench. Pool told it is the green-tea flavor he has mentioned as a highlight of his childhood visit.
POTUS then walks back to the Buddha, takes a long gaze up at its face, then shakes hands with his guides and walks back toward the entrance and waiting motorcade. In all, about 25-minute visit.