This is the second part of the Vacation Japan Style posts, please click here for the first part if you missed it. After Tokyo we hopped on the train to Kamakura where we visited the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine where my friend washed her hands and mouth before entering. It’s an interesting custom. This site explains Shrine customs quite well http://www.mustlovejapan.com/manner/shrine.html
I don’t take photos of Shrines or Temples really so I have none of these, perhaps my friend will blog her photos – keep an eye out for a ping to her blog if she does, below is my friend cleansing her hands. This Shrine is a large complex with a lake and the largest Koi I have ever seen. It was truly impressive.
On the walk to the Shrine we were approached by children who were learning English and part of their education was to speak to us and ask us for our signature on a work book they carried. It was a fun experience at first, but we soon realized this was going to happen a lot if we kept stopping for them.
The walk to the Shrine is something itself, a lot of shopping and restaurants. One older lady stopped us when we got to her and said “English Menu” smiled and bowed a little. It grabbed my friend enough for us to try her restaurant out. So, we followed her instruction to go to the back of a hallway to the end and go inside. We did so and ended up in a tiny room with only bar stools around a small counter, the other side of the counter was where they cooked. This room was smaller than my living room. There was only two women working in it. We sat down and ordered our lunch plates. I ended up with ginger pork that is was hands down the best I have ever had and my friend had a pork dish that she still says was the best thing she has ever had. It was a lovely experience.
After the Shrine we made our way to The Great Buddha (Daibutsu).
This was interesting, and I actually thought it would be bigger but still he is very impressive and the area had a great air of peace to me. It was definitely worth traveling to.
After the Daibutsu we decided to end the day at Hasedera.
My friend has a love for Kannon, whom this Temple is devoted to so it was an important stop for her. My friend’s camera battery was dying so I helped with photos, here are a few from this amazing Temple and the grounds that still have us awe struck. We found a rainbow too!
This ended day one of Kamakura. Day two was equally amazing. We came back to make our way to the Bamboo Forest which is to the right of the train station instead of the left like the others. We decided to walk, it was a nice day and exercise you know. On our walk we discovered so many things, please people walk more, don’t take the bus or taxi if you don’t have to. So many things would be missed. We came upon a small (compared to the larger ones we’d been to) Shrine with beautiful grounds and an amazing story that gripped me. The was the Hokaiji Shrine for 870 Samuraii warriors who upon knowing they were about to be taken over (during war time) gathered and they committed mass suicide to avoid capture. It’s quite a story if you have a few minutes please click the link above.
I don’t have photos of this place, just didn’t seem right. It was quite an experience to read the story and walk around the small grounds.
We kept going and found another Shrine up on a hill that was small and quaint. We also found ourselves standing in front of a Torii Gate to nowhere. It was a Torii Gate that led into bush and a hill. I’m guessing there was something back behind it somewhere but we weren’t wearing hiking boots so we passed on that one. Finally making it to our destination (after having to ask for help from a nice gentleman waiting for a bus) we were pulled into a lovely bamboo park:
In the back of the forest there is a small hut and if you purchase a ticket for it you can enter and enjoy green tea made freshly there. They serve it with two small candies to help cut the bitterness. The hut had benches with a small counter running across which we could sit to enjoy our tea while also enjoying the forest. It was lovely.
They also have caves set in the hillside which were a great surprise and a zen garden the size of which I’ve never seen before, this made those desk size sand box with a tiny rake look completely silly.
After our time at the Forest my feet were feeling it so we opted to take the bus back to the station. This is my first time riding a local bus and it was much like the trains, packed and quiet. And so ended our travels that day.
Next: Kurihama and The Rose Garden
Have you ever just gone with your gut exploring new things ? Perhaps taking the longer route and finding some amazing things on the way? I am happy to say my friend and I did a lot of that during her nine days here and it was a true pleasure to have a kindred soul who appreciates such adventures.