Kamakura


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Asia » Japan » Kanagawa » Kamakura
May 24th 2015
Published: June 9th 2015
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We had decided to head to Kamakura for the day, as it is an easy and interesting day trip from Tokyo. We left around 8:30 and took the subway to Shinjuku station. Here we were able to buy transport passes that would allow us to take the train to and from Fujisawa, which is connected by tram to Kamakura. The Enoshima/Kamakura Freepass costs only 1,470 yen, a bargain! The transport pass also included unlimited tram journeys. We took one of the faster trains to Fujisawa, it looked like a regular subway train to me, and the journey took about an hour. We then passed through the station and connected to the Enoden line. We rode the tram for nine stops until we reached Shichirigahama. We left the station and walked for 5 minutes to reach Bills. Bills is an Australian cafe/restaurant that do a mean brunch, there is one in Seoul that I would eat at every week if I had the chance. We were worried that it would be busy but luckily for us it was pretty quiet and we got a table straight away. I really like that this venue is upstairs and we could see the ocean outside. Unfortunately, all the outside tables were taken but it was still nice inside. We shared the 'Full Aussie' breakfast, which was delicious as always and we also shared the corn fritters, they were really nice too. I haven't seen the fritters on the menu in Seoul. I also had a lime oolong tea, which could have done with a bit more oolong.

Feeling happily full from brunch we headed down to the beach. I have to say the beach isn't amazing, the sand looks kind of dirty and the sea is pretty rough, good for surfers though. The weather wasn't that great and it was a bit cloudy, but I did manage to see Mount Fuji in the distance! That was cool! However the view didn't last long, as a blanket of cloud soon obscured my view. We had a little walk along the beach and then we headed back to the tram station. The tram line is pretty small, some sections are a single line, meaning the trains have to wait for others to pass. The tram line is also packed tightly between houses. We alighted the tram at Hase and walked for about ten minutes through the small town to reach Kotokuin Temple, home to the Great Buddha. The Great Buddha is an iconic image of Kamakura and on all the tourist information.

We walked up the driveway leading to the Giant Buddha. We had to pay an entrance fee, which was 200 yen. The Buddha was so impressive to see. There were quite a few people about, but it didn't feel too crowded. There were quite a lot of women young and old in traditional dress, loads of western tourists were snapping pictures of them, they all looked so beautiful and exotic compared to what we are used to. I must have taken about a million photos of the Amida Buddha, from every angle there is. It is just so photogenic. The statue dates back to around 1252. Something that I found really cool, was that for a small fee we were able to enter the Giant Buddha. The entrance and exit are quite small and there are a lot of people coming and going, so we had to be careful on the steep stairs. It was strange being on the inside, and looking up into the Buddha's head.

We took the tram into the main town of Kamakura. We walked through the main shopping street, where we did indulge in a bit of shopping. The street is quite long and back with shops selling loads of different stuff. At the end of the shopping street is Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. It is the most important shrine in Kamakura and is at the geographical and cultural centre of the city. The shrine was originally built in 1063. We wandered around the shrine, there were quite a lot of people about, but the place still had a lovely calm feeling to it. There was a place to get your fortune so we did that. We had to rattle a box to make a stick come out. We then showed the number on the stick to the woman in charge and she gave us the fortune that related to that number. I was buzzing, I got a good fortune! I thought we had to tie them to the little fences, but my friend told me that you only tie the bad fortunes to them, you get to keep the good ones.

We wandered out a side way and were perfectly placed to follow the road round to the next temple we wanted to visit. It was a bit of a walk away and took us maybe twenty minutes to get there. Hokokuji Temple belongs to the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, and it is famous for its bamboo grove. The temple is pretty unassuming, when you reach it. We wandered in along the path through the small garden, which was fairly mossy. There were small Buddha statues dotted around the garden. We paid our entrance fee and also around an extra 500 yen, so that we could take tea there too. Since the tea shop would be closing soon, we headed there first. We wandered through the bamboo forest and arrived at a small hut which housed three or four women behind a counter, making the tea. The tea was in powdered form and they were all wearing dust masks to protect themselves. You must get a huge caffeine rush, if you are inhaling green tea powder all day, I think that would be great for a caffeine addict like myself. We handed over our tickets and were given a number, which was then shouted out and we had to go and collect our tea. The tea was served in gorgeous bowls and they were beautifully presented. We sat sipping our tea, which was very, very strong, looking out over the forest. It was really tranquil. We then took a wander through the bamboo grove, it was pretty compact, but cute. Definitely worth a visit.

Jomyoji Temple wasn't too far away, just across the road and up a bit. We were happy that it was so close. We paid the entrance fee. I can't remember how much it was, but I doubt it was more than a couple of hundred yen. There was a cat sleeping on the desk at the ticket office and a sign said it was 19 years old. That cat is ancient! There was also a sign asking people not to take photos of it. This temple was really peaceful and there weren't many other people about. The temple was founded in 1188 by the priest, Taiko Gyoyu. They also had a cafe to enjoy some green tea in. We walked up the hill past the cemetery and there was a lovely garden which we had a stroll through. There were many beautiful flowers there and one in particular was very unusual, I hadn't seen anything like it before.

We came out of the temple and we were across from the bus stop that would take us back to town, however we decided to walk. It didn't take too long. We stopped off at a Family Mart to buy drinks, snacks and ice cream. We then headed back along the path to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. There is a pond in the grounds which is filled with lotus leaves and there were many benches around it where people were chilling, quite a few of them were having picnics. We spent about an hour there, eating our snacks and resting. The pond was really big and I had a great time people watching there. There were two men sitting on the steps by the water, and when I walked down to the water's edge, I saw that one of the men had a bag of food and he was spoon feeding the turtles in the water. It was so cute, to see them come up out of the water, have a bite to eat and then swim off.

We headed back along the shopping street, Komachi-dori Street to the station. We had a look in a couple of the shops and I got some duck/chicken shaped biscuits that are a famous snack to bring back from Kamakura. We got off the tram at Inamuragasaki, which is a famous stop on the coast. I think it is famous for some animation TV series or movie. The sun was starting to set and we took a walk along the beach. I caught another glimpse of Mount Fuji, beautiful. The sunset was gorgeous. The sky went a lovely light shade of pinky orange. The clouds changed colour. I love a good sunset. We walked to Shichirigahama Station and took the tram all the way back to Fujisawa Station.

Back at the station we inquired about getting to our next destination and whether our day passes would work to take us there. When I say we, I really mean my friend, who is Japanese, I don't know if the station attendants would have good English, not that I would have to ask these questions. We found out we could use our tickets and we headed one or two stops from Fujisawa to a small town, which housed a Kura Sushi. My friend was shocked that I knew all about Kura Sushi, but another friend had recently visited Japan and had told me how great it was.

We left the train station in this small town that I have long forgotten the name of and headed to the main street, where the restaurant was located. The main street was dead and we could see no sign of life in the building where the restaurant should be. This was not looking good and we were starving. However as we turned the corner we saw that there were lights on and we let out a massive sigh of relief. We headed up to the restaurant. We had to wait a while to get a table, but it was quicker than we expected as a lot of people had ditched their place in the queue. The reason this chain is so popular is that it is 100 yen a plate. We ordered a tonne of sushi and again shared the lot. It was all really good and I was impressed that they had a boiled egg sushi. I love eggs! We had lots of different fishy ones and also a meat one. My friend ordered a delicious egg dish, that i think was called Chawanmushi, and similar to Gyeranjjim, a steamed egg dish which I love in Korea. The Chawanmushi was delicious and I really enjoyed it. The texture was really smooth, and it had bits of meat and fish in the bottom. I definitely need to remember to order this again in the future. We were stuffed by the time we left the restaurant, we had had a great feast for 2,000 yen. I honestly don't find Japan that expensive, it isn't South East Asia cheap, but it's cheaper than the hot spots of continental Europe.

We took the train back to Shinjuku, we were lucky that we didn't have to go back to Fujisawa. We had to leg it at the station to get the train and when we got to the platform the train doors closed. Luckily, the driver took pity on us and opened the doors. Lady Luck was on our side. The journey back took an hour and I was fascinated by the three Japanese teenagers sitting opposite us, they had all died their hair an identical shade of orangey blonde. My friend even commented on the fact they were wearing their school uniforms, skirts rolled up, on a Sunday. It would be the closest I would get to seeing any of the Harajuku styles. We had to change trains once and then we arrived back in Shinjuku. From there we had to take the subway back to Asakusa. I was wrecked by this time. It was after 11 by the time I got home and got into my bed. A tiring, but absolutely brilliant day.


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