Saturday, July 4, 2009

Kamakura

Just a hop step and jump over the hill from Yokohama, Kamakura lies about 30 mins or so by car (provided you don't miss the turn!). With rain falling, a lack of signs and no GPS or maps we attempted to navigate the urban highway system to Kamakura with just the hotel's front-desk clerk's vague instructions. Destined to fail, I missed the one and only real turn and we found ourselves "locked in" and going in the wrong direction. Fortunately, we came across an off ramp, did a U-turn and found an access ramp right away. Other than a few extra yen, from there it was plain sailing...

Kamakura, now a cultural and surfing mecca on the coast south of Tokyo, was once the capital of Japan from 1185~1333 and is recognized as a tourist hot-spot with multiple Buddhist temples and the occasional shrine in the surrounding hills with significant historical importance.

Our first stop was the HASE-DERA temple.





The grounds have a garden which proved very popular with photographers attempting to capture the Hydrangea flowers in bloom that lined the hillside.

There is also a collection of JIZO, the patron saint of of the souls of the departed children.

The main point of interest though is the KANNON (goddess of mercy) statue, one of Japan's most popular Buddhist deities. The 9m-high carved wooden JUICHI-MEN (eleven-faced Kannon) is believed to date from the 8th century and photos are prohibited.


Walking around the neighborhood we stopped for ice cream, signed autographs (kids didn't want dad's for some reason) and met some interesting people.

Next stop was the famous DAIBUTSU.

Completed in 1252, the huge (850 tonnes, 11.4m tall), cast bronze Buddah statue was swept away by a tsunami in 1495 before being mounted where it stands today. It's pretty eye catching and makes for a magnificent memory of our Kamakura trip. For ¥20 we got to go inside, squeeze past the school kids and take a peek at the construction techniques which were amazingly advanced for their time.
After a quick lunch at Denny's the rain began to fall again, but Aiko really wanted to see and show us the Zeniarai-Benten.

So we missioned it in the car, but roadworks blocked our initail route so we decided to follow our nose and found a step, narrow, dead-end street with a trail resembling a waterfall more than a track which lead us there. Lots of huffing and puffing but once there it was quite quaint and peaceful. We washed our money with the 'sacred' water as is the tradition at this shrine and with any luck I'll win the big summer lottery!!

Back in town, we parked at our hotel for the evening near the station, walked down the cherry tree lined walkway down the middle of the street leading to the TSURUGAOKA HACHIMAN-GU shrine, the main shrine of Kamakura, before farewelling Masako who had to go back to Osaka.

That night we dined at an Izakaya, the Japanese equivalent of a pub, with a wide array of dishes which we sampled ample of and cheap wine and beer!

Then back to the hotel, Hotel New Kamakura, which is a building of historic importance and features on many a TV drama set and movies.

Here's Dad in his 'Father's Day' Hawaiian shirt with Aiko in front of the hotel. It was a lark dressing up in the traditional yukata before settling into a couple of games of cards with some uninvited mozzies.

Little critters went to town on me until I woke up at 3am scratching myself silly and couldn't get back to sleep!!!!!

2 comments:

David said...

Great photos, great fun, great memories.

Great shirt!!

J said...

Glad it fit!