Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Beautiful Day in Ofuna

Earlier this week I saw that there was going to be a break in the 30-40 degree weather here.  So, I decided we would head out on Friday, when it was predicted to be partly sunny and 60!!  We didn't get as early of a start as I would have liked, but we made it out just shortly past lunch.  
Before I get into that, a little bit about how I found this place.  A few weeks ago I saw an article on The Facebook about a London photographer, Chino Otsuka, who was born in Tokyo to parents that traveled the world.  She then took the photos of her as a child and photoshopped herself into the pictures as an adult.  They were neat, and one picture had this amazing statue in the background.  After a bit of Googling I found it.  The goddess of mercy of the white robe in Ofuna. 

Okay, so back to the trek....after speeding through school that morning I fixed a quick lunch, hotdogs and applesauce for the boy and quesadilla and an apple for Kenz.  Mackenzie finished quickly and got dressed, ready for our excursion.  Garytt, on the other hand, took FORTY FIVE minutes to eat one hotdog!  Geez...so, we wait for slow poke to finish and get dressed.  While he's finishing, I packed a bag full of snacks, drinks, and my camera.  FINALLY, he is dressed and everyone has shoes on, so we head out the door.  We get a few minutes down the road and all of a sudden Mackenzie starts acting like she is having an allergic reaction to her clothing.  Well, she decided to wear thick, heavy boots on a 60 degree day!  Soooo....we turn back around and get back to the house so she can change.  

Now, we are all actually dressed appropriately and headed to the train station.  I noticed before we left the house that if we made it to the station by six minutes to the hour we could get on one train and ride for about twenty minutes to our destination.  Because of the slowest hotdog eater and the change of shoes the time was going to be tight.  So, I pushed the kids to walk fast.  We were doing pretty good, well, Garytt and I were doing good...Mackenzie was whining every three steps that her non-flexible leg, i.e. the leg that doesn't go into a split as good as the other one, was hurting so bad she didn't think she would ever be able to walk again.  Boy and I ignored her and kept up as fast a pace as he could manage.  We got within thirty steps of the station when the train I wanted took off.  :(  We rushed, and potentially put Mackenzie in a horrible mood, for nothing.  Darn.  So, we waited for about fifteen minutes for the next train that would take about 35 minutes and we would have to switch trains once.  That's better than the next train that would have taken an hour to get where we wanted to go.

Well, we made it on the train and were headed toward Zushi station...the one that I just can't figure out where I'm supposed to go...ever!  We get to the station and get off the train because I'm pretty sure we are supposed to switch trains.  I look at my train app, look at the train next to us, figure that's not the right one, think maybe we weren't supposed to get off our train, and so we get back on the train we just arrived on, but in a different car so people don't think we're lost.  Ha!  Two minutes before it leaves I decide to get back off again.  We head up the stairs to look at the other options.  I walk back and forth up here a couple times trying to figure out which way to go.  Luckily, the janitor stopped mopping the floor and came over to say, "Where you want go?"  I say, "Ofuna," hoping I pronounced it right.  He walks me to a window and points down at a train that is just arriving.  He says, "That one.  Three stops. Ofuna."  I then thank him profusely and run down to catch the correct train.  Shew!

In about ten minutes we arrive at Ofuna station.  I managed to find the correct exit, sometimes eenie, meenie, miney, moe works!  We walk past a lot of yummy looking station restaurants and then out of the station.  I've got the place bookmarked in my phone and so we start heading toward the dot.  We walk on the bridge across the river and then to the left.  We stop to look at the early cherry blossoms starting along the road.  We also checked out the neat looking flowers sitting outside a flower shop.  Not sure what they are called, but they remind me of cabbages.

We made a right turn at the next intersection and walked about a block when I realized that we were going in the wrong direction.  So, we turned around and went back out to the main road then went left.  Again, we walked by the flower shop, and again, I discovered we were going the wrong way.  Garytt said, "Hey, I think I know where we are supposed to turn.  It's back there where the bikers are."  So, I listened to the five year old and followed him to a little alleyway.  I also actually told my phone to give me directions to the temple.  He was right!  So, now we are on the right track.  We get to the entrance and start our way up the steep road to the temple.

On the way up the hill the kids were able to reach out and touch bamboo trees.  They were pretty impressed by how smooth a tree could be.  There were also a few fallen trees so we were able to check out the inside of the tree as well.  "Boring" was Mackenzie's report.









At the top of the hill I paid 300 yen for myself and 100 for Mackenzie.  We got our tickets and walked in.  Just inside the grounds we were able to get a nice view of the statue's head.  It was also here that Mackenzie said, "are we going to see the lady with the person on her head?"  I couldn't figure out what she was talking about...maybe it's time to change out my contacts.

From here I let Garytt, who definitely got his sense of direction from his Daddy, lead the way.

First we walked past the office and over to look at a few statues.



The statue on the left has a flame inside it.  Apparently, this flame was lit from the fires left behind after the bomb was dropped in Hiroshima and there are rocks here from ground zero of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The purpose of this whole temple is to promote world peace and remember those who died in the blasts.

The cherry trees were beautiful here.  I bet it's amazing when all the trees are in full bloom.  

The kids noticed the jizo decorated with clothing and surrounded by toys.  I learned on an earlier trek the meaning of these items.  So, I decided to explain a bit to them....some people don't believe in the God we love, but in many different gods.  They create statues to celebrate those gods and they will put clothing on them to keep them warm in the winter, or umbrellas over them to keep the sun off them in the summer; and this jizo here has toys around it because some people believe this god takes care of children that are living as well as those that have died.  Garytt didn't seem to hear anything and was running off to the next interesting thing on the path.  Mackenzie really looked at the statues and studied everything around them.  I wish I could have seen how she was processing that in her beautiful mind.





After we looked at the buildings, flowers and trees, Garytt found the stairs that lead up to the goddess of mercy.   The steps were weird.  They were all angled into the hill in a way that was fun to walk, but kind of disorienting.  Garytt ran up without noticing.  Mackenzie kept stopping to look up and then look back down and then bend down to get a better view.  

Once we got up these small stairs we were right in front of the kannon.  I wanted to find the stairs from Otsuka's photo.  So, we walked out to the right a bit and found them.  It took some convincing to get the kids to walk back down the steps instead of around the kannon statue.  But, I did.  At the bottom there was a lady that asked me to take a picture of her on the stairs.  When I finished she offered to take our picture too!  Yay!  That doesn't happen very often.  So, I was able to get all of us in a picture from one of our Daddy-less treks.  Apparently, Mackenzie thought we had cooties and didn't want to get too close.




The statue is about 75 feet tall.  Construction started in the late '20's and the outer form was finished in 1934 but the rest was put on hold due to wars and then it wasn't finished until 1960.



Here's the "person on her head"




There is a museum inside the statue.  So, we walked around to the backside, up the stairs and inside. 

The temple grounds are very pretty and oh so peaceful.  There were several tables with chairs or stools.  Mackenzie wants to go back another time with a picnic lunch so we can sit and eat.

 When she saw the statue below, Mackenzie said, "Ooh la la!"  That morning we were reading Junie B. Jones, Party Animal, and Junie B. got in her friend's grandmother's car, rubbed the "velvety interior" and exclaimed, "Ooh la la!"  I explained what that meant to Mackenzie.  From this point on in our trip when she would see something she thought was pretty she would exclaim, "Ooh la la!"  Made me smile every time.  

This was her favorite spot.  She found several rocks and was trying to replicate the kannon with them.

I'm not sure what this flower is, but it was cool looking.  Kinda like a sunflower, but with little flowers around the outside.

When we were done walking around the grounds we headed back to the office so I could get my book stamped.  I was hoping the kids would get to see them draw it and then stamp it.  Well, they took it back to an office to do that, so they didn't get to see.  While we were sitting at a table waiting, my one of my biggest traveling fears happened...a very nice Japanese man offered my kids an unknown Japanese snack.  He didn't speak any English, but he was so pleased to see the kids and to give them a special snack.  Well, for those that don't know, Mackenzie is the pickiest eater on the planet.  She wouldn't even look at the snack out of total fear of new things to eat.  Garytt looked at it but refused to eat it.  I think the man said it was ok and bowed at us.  I bowed and thanked him several times, totally embarrassed that the kids didn't taste it.  To give them a little credit...it didn't look too appealing.  It looked like a cookie with beans on it.  When I got home I did taste it, wow...yummy!!  I think those are azuki beans on top of the cookie.  The cookie itself tastes kind of like a butter cookie and the beans give it a sweet, nutty flavor.  I will definitely be on the lookout for those the next time we go to Livin.  

The trek up this hill took about five minutes.  The RUN down took about thirty seconds.  I'm pretty sure I almost dislocated my knee trying to keep up.

When we left the temple Mackenzie said she liked Ofuna so much that she wanted to explore.  Garytt, who did not get a nap that day, was getting a little tired of walking around and was ready to go home.  So, I let Mackenzie chose a path for us to walk for about five minutes before turning back and heading to the train station.  I found the platform for our train and we had about a twenty minute wait for the train that went straight to Yokosuka.  On the train Garytt got out is DS and played Mario Cart.  Mackenzie sat back and watched the cities go by.  At one point, she turned around and looked at me, then rubbed her hand on the seat and said, "Ooh la la!  Such soft seats!"

Once back in Yokosuka we walked back to the base along the waterway.  We decided to stop at the Daiei and get some yummy strawberries.  We also found a box of ice cream and some small, cheap bananas.  On our way out we also found some Minions.
Because of our stop at the Daiei we didn't get home in time for me to fix dinner...darn.  :)  And, because of all the walking we did I didn't want to have to walk anywhere.  So, my fabulous hubby drove us to Chili's.  The boy has discovered he likes ribs....he makes his Daddy so proud!