Again, WAAAAAAAY too tired to write or post all the pictures. Enjoy these ones for now and I’ll come back and edit later. Today was epic! (FIRST edit (more to come, eventually) started January 24, 2019.)
We took the Yokosuka Line and headed out to Kamakura. It takes just under an hour.
At this time of the day, most people sleep on the trains.
To get to our first destination of the day, we had to transfer at Kamakura station to another line. It seemed strange to us that we actually had to physically leave the station through one door and come back in another right beside it to get to the Enoden line. This one is privately run and not covered by our JR passes so we had to pay 190 yen each for a one-way ticket.
a cute toad statue on the end-of-line stopper
You know you’re in Kamakura when the vending machines are wrapped with bamboo pictures.
The most zen-like station I have been in.
The Enoden line runs around the coast and is where most of the major tourist spots are located.
It’s a super-cute, retro-looking train that is kind of famous. Train otakus love it.
I’ve heard it can get very crowded but it wasn’t busy at all at this time.
Arriving at Hase Station, we saw a film crew doing… something. Apparently this station is on TV a lot.
To the left of the timetable/map board, you can see the table with a stamp. A lot of train stations, museums, castles, etc. (any noteworthy spot) will have an ink stamp you can collect in a book.
For those leaving from this station, this is the ticket booth and entrance stalls. (We’ll be going back home a different route though.) From here, it was about a 10 minute walk to Hasedera Temple.
They seem to really like frogs here?
The entrance is gorgeous and looked slightly mysterious in the light rain and fog.
SO helpful when there is actually a sign! The first thing I did was to get my book stamped, right inside the gate. (Future note: Now I know better. You are supposed to complete your visit and pay your respects beforehand and get your stamp on the way out. Sort of like proof you actually did it.)
Hasedera is known for it’s jizo statues. This one stands alone but he’s really really kawaii!
Outside this cave, there is a stand covered with ema plaques. It is not uncommon to see a some Shinto-related things at a Buddhist temple.
Some people make their wishes quite artistically.
The cave inside is U-shaped. The torii marks the entrance.
There are 2 different options here: the ema for 500 yen or for 300 yen, these papers (I forget what they are called) where you write your prayers, put them in the envelopes, and the priest will burn them as an offering for you.
Payment is made through the honour system.
Inside the cave, there were thousands of these little Bodhisattva statues (I think it was Benzaiten) wedged into every little nook and cranny possible. It was pretty dark in there – and had quite a low ceiling – but various alcoves were lit up. It was a cool atmosphere.
Beyond the entrance gate, there is a lovely garden (with the cave off to the right) and then a trail leads up the mountain to the rest of the temple complex.
The first stop up the mountain had an area with thousands of jizo, a joukoro (incense burner), and an altar where offerings could be made.
It was kind of a somber moment when I stopped to think about what allllll these jizo are for.
They have such sweet faces.
This one has a ladle near him. You’re supposed to pour water over his head along with your prayers. (Jizo takes care of the souls of the departed, so taking care of him passes on your wishes to your loved one.)
The next stop up the mountain is the main temple hall. It was under construction but we could still go inside. Photography is prohibited but, if you’re ever here, GO IN! There is a huge gold buddha. It’s impressive.
More Shintoism sneaking in. This mini-shrine is for Inari and you can make your prayers here for good business and prosperity.
a beautiful sakura tree just outside the main hall
When the weather is better and it’s later in the day, I’m sure this terrace area gets pretty crowded. We were pretty much the only ones here. It was a little cold, rainy, and windy.
lovely view of Sagami Bay
We are a little bit further south from Tokyo and the blossoms were perfect here!
The petals have already begun falling though so we made it just in time.
We were hungry already so we stopped at this restaurant. All of the food is prepared by the monks.
Look who followed us here!
The restaurant is lovely! And apart from the film crew, we had the place to ourselves. (I don’t think they were technically open yet, but they let us in.)
To start off with, I got some mitarashi dango. They were so good. And, as always, sweet tea,
Dango is mochi (rice cake) balls on a stick. Mitarashi refers to the sauce. It’s a thickened, slightly sweet soy sauce.
I ordered plain udon. It came with tsukemono (Japanese pickles). I had never had them before but they were yummy.
Behind the restaurant, there is a little bamboo grove with a small trail around it going a bit further up the mountain. These little jizo triplets are at the base. I had seem them in various other people’s pictures for years and was so pleased to see them myself in real life. They are adorable.
It just keeps going up and up.
Looking back down where we were. (You can see the sakura tree we took pictures of earlier on the left.)
Yet another area of statuary. I love this temple and all it’s hidden spots!
These ones were really old. Their faces were crumbly but that just seemed to give them even more serenity and power.
I take too long taking pictures and exploring, so he just sits and waits for me. A lot.
Heading back down…
Things were starting to get a bit busier. This stall wasn’t open when we were here earlier. They are selling dango and manju.
The beauty of this place makes my heart happy.
This pond is in the shape of the backwards swastika – a scared symbol of Buddhism long before Hilter came along, jacked it, and perverted it for his uses.
Another set of triplets I had missed on the way up.
Something amusing about a monk taking a selfie…
Back out on the street, I noticed this very extravagant sanpuru display.
A street-vendor was selling freshly made sembei so I had to get one.
We walked over from Hasedera to Kotokuin – home of the Giant Buddha – probably one of the most famous places in Japan.
This little boy making faces at the Kongorikishi (guardian statues at the entrance gates to temples) was adorable.
komainu – guardian lion-dog
I think chozuya (water troughs for purification before entering) are usually for shrines so this could be another Shinto-Buddhist crossover ritual.
First glimpse. I have been waiting to meet him forEVER!
We came on a perfect day. I like it best when it’s cloudy and misty. It makes the Buddha pop out of your picture.
He’s so big!
My advice: take your time and look at all the little details. There is a lot to see!
On the street, headed to our next stop, I saw this old-timey post box. Cute!
Where the Cullens would live when they are in Japan. (I think it’s a ryokan, actually.)
Third temple – Hokokuji
I was thinking, “WHY is this girl wearing heels? That’s ridiculous.” She tripped right after I took the picture.
The main attraction of this temple is the bamboo forest. I’m excited!
See? Heels would be dumb.
Damn my shakey hands and terrible photography skills.
In the middle of the bamboo grove is a tea hut where you can have a bowl of matcha while you admire the view.
Traditionally made matcha like this is not sweetened so they give you a little sugar candy to eat right before your drink it. Delicious!
One of these things is not like the other…
I didn’t ACTUALLY deface the bamboo. I just scraped the waxy, dusty coating. It’ll be gone by the end of the day.
Poor Hubby. It’s been an action-packed morning already.
The garden here is also well-known. And pretty.
When a path has a rock tied with a black rope like this in the middle of the way, it means “do not enter”.
I like looking at regular Japanese houses. Nothing special but super interesting to me.
Looking back at the gate before we leave.
The bus driver and I have the same shoes. (Well, I’m not wearing them right now but I brought them with me.)
That’s only half of the day. I need at least a little sleep. More tomorrow.
(originally posted to Japan – Here I Come!)