Japan Trip Day 4


THE DAY IN A NUTSHELL:USA: November 9, 2003: Sunday
Japan: November 10, 2003: Monday

        • Took the train to Kamakura.
        • Got a room at the Tsurugaoka Hotel.
        • Took a walk to the Hachiman Shrine.
        • Went to Kenchoji Temple.
        • Shopped in little Kamakura shops.
        • Had warm noodles.
        • Spent the night in the hotel.

Big apple

Big apple in Japan


Yay, we got to eat the big apple for breakfast! It was so big that it filled two plates and the three of us couldn’t eat it all, so we took it in a bag and hopped on the train.

[suica]While we rode on the train munching the apple, I did my hair in french braids, and my sister read to us from the guidebook to tell us all about our destination: Kamakura. There are LOTS of shrines and temples there, and it’s pretty far away; Patricia thought it’d be a good opportunity to see all the stuff and also get to stay over in a Japanese hotel.

After some mucking about trying to find the best rates and then trying to find the place, we arrived at our destination: Tsurugaoka Hotel. It was rainy and yucky, so we were glad to take a breather and put down our stuff in our room. The room was great! I kind of wanted to hang out there longer, but we had stuff to see. It had beds, which isn’t “traditional” exactly, but it also had the tatami floors and a futon and a box of the yukata that you could wear around the room. And of course some neat sliding paper doors to enclose the tatami-floored portion, where there was a tea table and some free tea with a water boiler. I even found some very funny phrasing on a packaged razor: “Have a good shaving for your fresh life.” I was excited that we’d be able to enjoy all these things later.


Papers at Hachiman

Old trees at Hachiman

Purifying at Hachiman

Bridge only for the Shogun

Bridge with umbrellas

First we went to Hachiman Shrine (external link about the place, if you’re interested). It has lovely grounds, and we were greeted at its entrance by a bridge that you can only walk over if you’re the Shogun. (Don’t worry, there are bridges for us peons too.) There was a little place where you could purify yourself, and plenty of neat stuff to look at, but a large portion happened to be closed the day we went.


Cultural Note:

At a shrine, according
to the Shinto tradition,
you purify yourself by
washing your hands with the
water (into the rocks below),
then sipping a small amount
and washing your mouth out
with it, spitting it out.
You’re then pure to touch the
statues and talk to the gods.


Waving smoke at Hachiman


The next stop was Kenchoji, which is a temple, the most important Zen temple in Kamakura actually. It’s still in use and very beautiful, even though it was a soggy day. We could take our shoes off and walk around in certain areas of the building (which we did), but there wasn’t a lot we were allowed to see. It was pretty cold, so we went back into town; I was getting hungry. We passed a shrine dedicated to hell demons on the way back, but decided not to go in in the interest of time. My sister and I talked about Japanese language stuff on the way.


Cultural Note:

The difference between
a shrine and a temple is
that shrines are for
Shinto-oriented beliefs,
and temples are for


We did a small amount of shopping in the Kamakura shops. Kamakura is famous for the Daibutsu (the “big Buddha”), so a lot of the souvenirs had images of him on them. We found a lot of fun things to buy and look at, but the weather and being hungry and being cold was making me a bit irritable. We stopped for wine and drinks to bring to the hotel for our little party.


Warm noodles


After being cold all day, it really felt good to stop in a restaurant and be warm and eat something warm. I had soba and my mother had udon, we both had some tempura stuff in ours (mine had peppers, pumpkin, and eggplant–I liked it all but the peppers). We had a very short walk back to the hotel, and there I took off my jacket, kept on my other three layers, holed up like an inch from the heater, and stayed there for about an hour before passing out on the floor at only about 7 PM. (Somehow they got me to the bed, but I missed the whole night, though they tell me I woke up and tried stick tea. I don’t remember it.)

Out like a light

Patricia makes stick tea

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