I had no idea what I was getting into when we decided to stop in Japan on the way back to France from New Zealand.
I am not one of those who knows everything about the Japanese culture, that reads manga, plays video games… I only knew two things: Sushis and Pokemons. And I love both!
I will tell you more later about my feelings about Japan in general (basically: I LOVED IT), because this story is about a little town called Kamakura.
When I planned the trip to Japan, I picked a bit randomly some places. We knew globally what we wanted to do and see but we left some uncertainties to destiny. With the unlimited railway pass, it was quite easy to book a ticket for the next day without having to worry about booking everything before. We were going to go as the flow goes.
Very fortunately, one friend of mine from Canada (that I hadn’t seen in maybe two years because of France and New Zealand) happened to be in Japan exactly when we were there! We tried to meet up with her and arrange the end of the trip accordingly. The must? She loves Japan, knows a lot about it and speaks a bit of Japanese and she had some things she wanted to see in the areas we were going to be. That is how we ended up visiting Kamakura and Enoshima.
What to see / do:
- Komashi Dori Street (Commercial Street)
- Tsurugaoka Hachimangu (Temple)
- Kencho-ji (Temple)
- Daibutsu (Great Buddha)
- クリヤム タイ料理 (Thai Restaurant)
Half a day (a bit more if you don’t want to rush – From Tokyo)
Not too far from Tokyo, it is possible to do a day trip to Kamakura and Enoshima.
Kamakura is a charming little town with some very nice temples and shrines. We walked first into the most touristic street with a lot of little shops. I was looking for the furoshiki to bring back home as a souvenir and apparently they had some there. (Apparently it’s a trend in France this year for Christmas, ahah good timing for once!). My friend was looking for some honey you can only find there too so we did a little shopping before heading to the temples.
You can drink out of light bulbs!
There are many but one of them is the most famous one called Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. I won’t go long on this one because it wasn’t my favorite.
One of them stuck in my mind and stand up because some funny stories happened to us there and it was quite big with many buildings: Kencho-ji.
First of all, we were accosted by a groupe of little Japanese students that wanted to talk in English with us. They were so cute. Each of them had a sentence to say in English and they started by asking us if we wanted to take some time to talk with them. In exchange, they offered us a bag with origamis inside.
You will actually meet a lot of students like that from every age. It is like an assignment they have at school: find tourists, practice their english and then take a picture to prove they actually did the work. I think it is a good idea to practice like that! You hear a lot of different accent and it forces you to speak a little.
Another anecdote would be the meditation room that you can circle around. We were there during one session of Zazen and it was… Strange. I had never seen that before. The “master” was walking along the aisle of people sat on their knees, meditating. If they moved or expressed their tiredness, the “master” would come next to them and hit them with a stick so they would go back into a meditation state. Mmmm why not. It was forbidden to take pictures so I only have the outside of the place!
Outside of the Zazen place
Outside of the Zazen place
After that temple, we decided to go back to the city by walking in a forest to the Great (or Big) Buddha – Daibutsu (means giant buddha) that is in the Kotoku-In temple.
We walked up until a strange monument in the woods, with coins on it. Apparently, it will bring luck if you leave a coin there. And the higher, the most luck you will get!
The higher you get...
the harder you can fall!
The Big Buddha was… Big! More than 11m high! They say it is the second highest bronze (very important the bronze) Buddha in Japan.
We also got a nice story about that place. A group of high school students came to us and asked us if they could do a tour for us (free!) and explain to us what this place was. They were quite a lot of them but only a few spoke.
We learned some few things about the place, like the buddha was initially inside but the temple got destroyed by bad weather situations (in the years 1450). They also showed us a place right next to the Buddha that not many people pay attention to because it is on the side and not as impressive maybe. I like it though, it is a big pair of flip flops as we would say or sandals like the ones the monks wear. They were offered to the Great Buddha.
Oh and you can also visit the inside of the Buddha, a bit dark and nothing really special (you have to pay something like an extra 100 Yen to get in).
That is how we ended the part of the day in Kamakura. After that we ate in a nice Thai restaurant next to the water called クリヤム タイ料理 (Really good food! On the second floor) before taking a train to Enoshima (coming in another article soon).
Thai restaurant address:
Japon, 〒248-0016 Kanagawa-ken, Kamakura-shi, Hase, 2 Chome−16−15, サイトウビル
Have to been to Kamakura? What did you really enjoyed there?