Thursday we were taken to the train station, with bus maps and Kamakura brochures in hand! We all hopped on the train and headed to Kamakura ... there was a little bit of confusion with the train here, we were supposed to get on the Yokosuka Line and go straight to Kamakura, but there were so many people signed up for this tour that we ended up having to take the train to one station, get off, go to the other side of the station and hop on another train to take us into Kamakura. This probably wouldn't be so bad, except that I find it difficult to find my way back when I don't actually go through the process of getting myself there in the first place...it was kind of like being blindfolded and driven across a strange town, then unblindfolded and told to go back to the starting point. Needless to say, coming back we were a little discombobulated...more on that later!
So, we get to Kamakura, I think the total roundtrip fare for one adult was around $5.00. We headed out of the train station and were dismissed for lunch with a "good luck on getting back home" speech.
|Our food ready to go|
|Front door of rest. 4th floor|
Once again, Garytt thought it was quite cool that he was able to add his own lunch food to the grill and cook it. Mackenzie could have cared less. I think she was ignoring the cooking process in the hopes that we wouldn't insist she try any of the food.
After lunch we headed out to meet our group's tour guide and then make our way to the Shrine. We learned this week that Kamakura was the seat of the first Shogun in Japan. Japan has an emperor, and he is considered a national symbol of Japan, the country is governed by a Prime Minister and Diet (House of Representatives and House of Councillors). The Emperor is believed to be a direct descendent of the Sun Goddess. Around 1,000 years ago the Emperor actually ruled the country and appointed important people throughout the country to uphold his rule and protect his people. Well, those important people, the Samurai, believed they should have more power and property than they were given, so they started to fight each other. This is when shoguns started to take over the land. Minamoto no Yoritomo is known as the first shogun, he moved the Emperor to Tokyo (put him in a nice pretty palace and basically said he was Japan's poster-boy while Yoritomo was its ruler) and set up his seat of power in Kamakura. Our guide said that he chose Kamakura because Yoritomo was from the area and because between the mountains and the water it was pretty well protected from invaders.
|The red gate separates the real world we live in and holy land|
|Walkway to Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine|
We walked the route, through two of the three red gates and then up the steps to the shrine.
|Final gate with the Shrine in the background.|
We watched what others did and found that, once they walked through the final gate they washed their hands in a basin just inside the gate.
|It's rare that Mackenzie asks to be in a picture|
At the top of the stairs no pictures were allowed. So, you'll have to come visit us to see inside! :) It's hard to see in the picture on the right, but there are two mean looking statues on the left and right of the entryway. Once you walk past those two guys there is a raised platform inside, surrounded on three sides with walls, and then the side that faces the stairs to the outside is a mesh curtain. There was a line of people to get into the Shrine and pray. Every ten minutes or so, a young guy would walk away from the entrance to the platform and strike a gong a few times.
|Entrance to the Hasedera Temple|
The pictures of the main temple, Kannon-do Hall, do not do it justice. The building is amazing. The curves of the roof, the dragons on each peak, the colors....just fantastic!
We walked the gardens here for a while, there were waterfalls that traveled through bamboo trunks, lots of koi fish, and even a cave!
After a quick look out over the city we headed into the cave. From what I've read on the Kamakura travel site, the cave is dedicated to the goddess of feminine beauty and health. There are several statues inside the cave of other minor gods.
Now, onto the "Big Bhudda" statue. Just a short walk from the temple is the Big Bhudda. WOW! A pretty awesome site! The kids thought he was pretty cool. And, what was even more cool - for 20 Yen each we could walk inside Bhudda!!! You won't guess who actually begged to go inside...Mackenzie! The child who is afraid to do anything new was so excited to get to walk inside Bhudda!
Kotoku-in Monastery Kamakura
Stranger whosoever thou art and whatsoever be thy creed, when thou enterest this sanctuary remember thou treadest upon ground hallowed by the worship of ages.
This is the Temple of BHUDDA and the gate of the Eternal, and should therefore be entered with reverence.
BY ORDER OF THE PRIOR
This was our last stop for the day. With the kids thoroughly exhausted, we walked back to the train station...well, three of us did. Garytt was carried the mile back to the station. Once on the train we all grabbed a seat and started on our way back to Yokosuka...or, so we thought. Turns out, we got on the wrong train, so we left Hase St, arrived at Zushi St, then headed back to Hase St. We got off here and got on the right train and NOW we made our way back to the Yokosuka St.
What a fun day! There was a lot of walking, a lot of laughs, and some awesome new experiences! Not only did we get to take a trip into Bhudda, but we also got to taste new ice cream flavors. We stopped and got four cones in Kamakura, the kids got vanilla, I got green tea ice cream, and Kris got a combination of green tea ice cream and sweet potato ice cream. Actually, they were all really good. Mixing sweet potato and green tea didn't taste good, but separately they were yummy.