Wednesday, April 16, 2008

View from train station of the Goddess of Mercy in Ofuna

Bottom of steps

Seiko in front of statue

Shopping street in Kamakura

Cute straw piggy

Kids in local parade

Parade performer

Notice the poles that are being used to hold the ladder upright while the performer does his stunts!

Shrine in Kamakura

People carrying traditional boxes to the shrine

Pick a crosswalk, any crosswalk!

Garden at Hase-dera temple

Statues are placed here to honor elderly people and the souls of unborn children

Here you can pray to the fox gods for help and good fortune with your business practices.

View of the beach in Kamakura from the Hase-dera temple

Hello! Things are good here. I posted a bunch of new photos I took on Sunday on a trip to Kamakura with my friend Seiko. We had a great time sightseeing, and Seiko was an awesome tour guide. This was my second trip to Kamakura. I went there with Zach on my first visit to Japan in April 2006 and really enjoyed it then too, but this time I was able to do a bit more exploring and see a local parade as well.

We took the train, and on our way to Kamakura we stopped in Ofuna to visit the statue of the Goddess of Mercy. She is so huge and amazing, and I think this was my favorite part of the day. We were the only ones there at the time because the weather was kind of drizzly and yucky. It eventually stopped raining though, and the rest of the day was fine.

Once we got to Kamakura, we walked to the shopping district and had lunch at a small cafe. Our lunch made me laugh, because it consisted of German sausages on small rolls. They tasted great, but it seemed a bit odd to be eating German sausages in Japan! This little cafe was also where I had my funny moment of the day, and I thought Seiko was going to fall over from laughing so hard. They were giving out free samples of salami, and I was distracted by something and grabbed a toothpick to pick up the salami. Unfortunately I did not realize that I was grabbing a toothpick from the discard pile. The poor guy giving out the samples didn't know how to tell me to stop, and he got all freaked out. Seiko managed to stop me at the last second, but that poor guy almost had a heart attack in the meantime. I laughed at myself, of course, and took a clean toothpick. Afterward, I saw him dump out the contents of his bowl of used toothpicks. He was probably worried that some other crazy American would come along and do the same thing!

Kamakura is a popular destination, and it is famous for being the capital of Japan's first military government. A flyer that I picked up explained that it has been the center of Zen Buddhism for hundreds of years and is known for its numerous temples and shrines. We were able to visit a few of them, but there are many, many more.

In the afternoon, the locals held a parade. I took a bunch of pictures of groups of people carrying decorated wooden boxes on their shoulders. Seiko explained that they carry a god inside the box, and they walk it up to the shrine.

After the parade, we took a local train to the Hase-dera temple. Here they have many statues of gods, including the god of wealth and the goddess of music. They also have a very touching building where people can place small stone statues to comfort the souls of unborn children and honor the elderly.

For the last leg of our trip home, Seiko had us take the bus. I told her that I could take the train, but she wanted me to learn how to take the bus. The was my first bus experience in Japan, and I was a bit nervous. Seiko got off a few stops before me, but I didn't have any problems getting home. Yay!

I had a great day, and it was so nice of Seiko to give me a personal tour of Kamakura. I learned a lot and came home with many things to share with Zach. He couldn't join us on this trip because he had to work, but I hope that we can go back again together and he can see these extraordinary sights too.


Anonymous said...

Wow---that looks like it was a fun trip. I'm a little mystified by the Hot Ice sign. ?? Is it dry ice? The garden you went to looks beautiful. ---Carol

Ellen said...

Hey, Carol. I think Hot-Ice refers to a coffee drink that you can get either hot or over ice. I say this because of previous experiences I've had here ordering coffee.