In terms of the two most common religions in Japan, I have always found Shinto more appealing as compared to Buddhism. The latter is the case not only due the fact that it is indigenous, but, more important, living practically "out in Nature" in the last little while, I've really grown to understand—on some kind of a basic, semi-rational level—the"primitive" animistic religions around the world.
For me, of course, everything having its own "spirit" is somewhere between a metaphor and reality, considering the consciousness "structure" of Modern man. But it is a powerful one: after all, I name various natural markers on my hikes as if those places "belong" to them.
With that in mind, one of the most fascinating things about Buddhism, particularly its nihilistic streak, is the presence of so many monumental structures around the world. The 44-foot-tall bronze Great Buddha of Kamakura, in particular, dating to mid-13th century, is, of course, one of the most iconic images of Japan.
During my rather belated visit, his serene meditative state was momentarily interrupted by the flapping of numerous wings over his massive head.
I call that luck!