Heart Warming Encounters: Kamakura, Part I

Sakura in Kamakura 鎌倉

This is my 3rd post of today, crazy eh? Before I go to Kyoto, I gotta finish writing this series about my trip to Kamakura on Sunday (April’s Fools Day). Because I had many interesting things happened to me that I absolutely have to document this unforgettable experience. Okay, maybe I’m too dramatic… but you get the point. Be ware- only read if you have time to spare, because I babble a lot…. as usual.

Although Kamakura has been on my To-go-list… I didn’t plan to visit until my supervisor suggested me going before my Kyoto trip. Why? Because it’s somwhat just a mini-Kyoto, except closer to Yokosuka (just 20 mins away). Also there are some good hiking trails, leading to several shrines… and along the way, there are some ancient tombs. If you wanna know more about Kamakura, just WIKI it. All I can say is, every couple blocks you walk, you are very likely to bump into a shrine or temple. It is also a popular tourist spot, so it’s best to go in early morning to avoid the crowds.

Due to the stormy weather on Saturday, I stayed home that day and went to bed at 6pm. I woke up at 5am on Sunday and arrived at Kamakura JR station at around 7am.

Kamakura station. A very tiny JR train station.

There’s East and West exit, I got out of the East exit both times (you will see why)… So I don’t know much about what’s on the west side. But the East side is pretty much what people are after anyway.

Outside the station on the right... Kurume-Plaza 109. Almost thought it's Shibuya 109. Oops.

Right in front of the station is a bus loop, on the left is Komachi-Dori, a shopping street. However, I skipped that for now because it was still early and none of the stores were opened.

So I went for a tourist map and found my first destination - Hachiman-gu (鶴岡八幡宮)

The gate made it quite easy to spot. LOL, I love her bike, it has 3 wheels.

This is not the entrance btw. It's only the entrance of the walkway that leads to the temple... there's still a long road ahead.

Both sides of the walkway have lanterns up and hundreds of Sakura tree. I can only imagine how amazing the scene would be once the flowers bloom. The writings on those white lanterns are the store names on both sides of the street.

I wonder what this store sells. Too bad I didn't have time to check it out later that night.

No cherry blossoms yet- what a pity.

After 10 mins of slow walk... we are at the entrance gate of Hachimangu

A pond with muddy water... with a beautiful garden across.

A small crowd of people (pretty much everyone there) around the ONLY Sakura tree with blooming flowers. A dude even sets up his bulky tripod to do some macro shots. I'm sure my bro would too, if only he's here.

We can also see Cherry Blossoms in Vancouver too. But people don't care for them much... unlike the Japanese, Hanami events are such great deals here. Can't wait to see drunken people under sakura trees...

Street food stalls were still being set up...

Another walkway to lead to the temple- finally!

A closer to at the "temple"- oh, it's not. To reach the temple, we gotta climb some stairs.

Before that... let's "purify" our hands.

You can drink the water too.

Girl and pigeons.

She's scaring them.

Fortune papers tied in knots.

This is it... Hachimangu.

View from above.

Sweeping floor.

Make a wish.

There's a *tiny* museum inside... so I bought a ticket.. might as well.

You can hear drum roll at 8.

Red corridor. Yay for sunshine!

I like their "uniform".. dunno what it's called. These girls were lining up for morning prayers, I guess. I got out of the main temple after...

See that red gate? Here's where my adventure began.

These gates with paper strips divide the spiritual place from the outer world. I walked up the stairs...

And I reached this small worship area...

Besides me, there was also an elderly man doing his morning exercise routine… When he saw me, he greeted with an Ohayogozaimasu. I greeted him back and continued taking my photos. He then started asking me a question in Japanese. I apologized and told him I could only speak English.

That’s when he switched “channel” all of a sudden and spoke with me in English. I was a little bit surprised at first (just as my colleagues when I told them this, we didn’t expect a Japanese senior to speak fluent English)… but was glad to have somebody to chat with. He asked me where I was from, I told him and we had a brief conversation before he had to take leave. Before he took the stairs down.. he asked me where I was gonna head to next. I told him I would go to the west side of Kamakura- Daibutsu and Hase-Dera. He glanced and his watch, but at the end said he had to go. We said goodbye and I stayed there for a little longer before going back down.

So by that time I was done with Hachimagu, and remember that muddy pond and beautiful garden? I was going to head there next. I walked slowly… and oh, I saw the old man(his name is T-san) again, at a cross section outside the garden. We said Hi again, then he suggested to show me around the garden. Apparently, he came here so often (every weekend) that he had a year-pass. He spoke to the ticket collector and got me in for free. 😀

I'm sorry I have to post my ugly self here =P but that's the only photo I have for the garden... A drawback of walking with someone is you can't stop to take photos all the time.

White pigeons.

White Sakura tree.

White flags.

T-san knew everyone in that temple, seriously! He asked this guy to take a photo w/ me. lol

So apparently the white flags belong to donators. This is T-san with his flag... the flag had his name on it. The flag behind his was his wife's.

Before leaving the garden, T-san brought me over to the gift shop and asked me which year I was born. After I told him, he pointed at a bunch of the Year of “Horse” keychains, and asked me to pick one! I knew he would pay for it, so I declined it. But he insisted and at the end bought me one as souvenir. After thanking him, I was about to say goodbye to him (since he said he was busy before)… But then he said he would like to show me around the town! So we began walking- since many shrines/temples are at walking distance.

See.. beside a park... entrance to another Shrine.

OK, I don’t really remember all the shrines that we visited… but here are some photos. He would explain the history of them to me. Apparently, T-san has lived in Kamakura for 66 years (since birth), yet he still visit temples/shrines in the area as often as he can (weekends, but Sunday afternoon he has to work at home). He said they were very spiritual… At his age, he has very good health and could walk a lot. I mean, really a lot… we visited no less than 6 or 7 temples/shrines… He even had a “step counter” on his cell phone which he showed me later on.

Usually there are stairs in front of shrines... He climbed them as fast as I could!

Egara Tenjin Shrine (荏柄天神神社), one of oldest shrines in Kamakura.

This shrine had an Samurai statue.. with mini samurai wishplates ( on the left)

Haha, every shrine that we went to, we would put in some coins and bowed/made wishes. After a few, T-san told me there’s no need for me to.. Yet he still did, I wonder how much he has “donated” over the years…People generally recommend putting 5 yens, because  5 yen in Japanese sounds the same as ご縁… which means relationship/fate.

Kamakura-gu. 鎌倉宮... quite special with a white gate.

After Kamkura-gu, we decided to head to western Kamaura, where Dai-butsu and Hase-Dare were.. (the places I planned to go initially). Walking would roughly take 30 mins. But I guess T-san really didn’t have much time? He suggested we take Taxi because the next bus wouldn’t come until 20 mins. OK, I never thought I would take Taxi in Japan. I thought, S**T, the starting price was 980 yen… and the traffic was very congested. So what would normally be a 5 min drive became 15 mins. O_O T-san didn’t seem to be bothered at all and he was chatting ecstatically with the Taxi driver. The final amount came to be 2000 yen… half of the cost of my one way trip to Kyoto! Again, T-san paid for it, though I was “fighting” to pay the driver first.

Anyhow, we finally arrived at Hase-Dera. This has got to be my favorite temple of the day!

There were many buddha statues and the view was so nice. There were gardens, caves, etc. Hase-Dera also houses the largest wooden statue in Japan- a Kannon 観音.

No photography inside these rooms.

Smaller buddha statues...

A rotating book case made of wood.

A small Japanese garden.

View of the Kamakura city, as well as the ocean! It was so refreshing standing there, overlooking an town with so much history.

Mini stone statues.

We then entered a cave with statues of many different buddhas. Some for money, some for safety, health, etc. Money god has the most candles lit in front of him lol

There's also a cave within a cave...

Again, beside the money god, there are many mini wish plates haha

Creative places that people place their wish plates.

OK, this post is getting really long… so I will break it up.

To Be Continued… つづく

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6 thoughts on “Heart Warming Encounters: Kamakura, Part I

  1. ~iv says:

    you are so lucky! he sounded really nice and took you to so many places and bought you a horse too XP the first cherry blossom pic looks so nice!!! well… all your pic looks nice but i dont have time to comment on them all… =( but keep posting and i will keep reading! back to studying la…

    • lol thts y i put the sakura picture at top . he didn’t just buy the ‘horse’, but paid for all the admission fees to temples and stuff. study hard, don’t spent too much time reading these posts ;-P

    • Actually, Kamakura was very crowded… just that the places that I went (either I went went too early) or because those shrines aren’t popular. The popular places are the great buddha and Hachimangu (which I went super early), and Hase Dera (many ppl, just that I avoided taking photos of the crowds) lol

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