Friday, November 7, 2014

Gion-yama Hiking Course, Kamakura

Mackenzie's birthday was Tuesday and so she was allowed to chose an outing to celebrate.  Her choice:  hiking...a girl after my own heart!  Luckily, Fusako-san was hosting a hike around Kamakura.  Woop woop!  

Wednesday morning, I got the kids up around 8...nothing like a house filled with the smell of yummy bacon and blueberry muffins to get two kids moving (and cause a few people in the building to post on our Facebook page, "who's cooking the food that's making my stomach growl?").  Once everyone was dressed and breakfast was finished, we headed out the door at 0904.  With the little legs in our trio, it took us about thirty minutes to make it to the Yokosuka Station.  We hopped on the 0942 train and were at Zushi Station by 0953 where the Zushi group was waiting for us.  I wasn't really paying too much attention, but I think we got on the train at about 1015 towards Kamakura.  

Once at Kamakura we talked a little about the government.  I missed some of what Fusako-san said, too much noise behind me.  I don't think the 3 and 4-year-olds really cared too much about history.  From what I could hear, Minamoto Yoritomo set up the first military government in Kamakura:  Kamakura Shogunate (Kamakura bakufu) somewhere around 1190.  Yoritomo becomes the first shogun and sets up Hachimangu Shrine in the city.  

The site of the second government

Our first stop is where Yoritomo's oldest son, Minamoto Yoriie, set up his seat when his father died.  I think Fusako-san said his mother, Masako, and the Hojo family really ruled during this time.

Site of the third government

Our second stop is where Minamoto no Sanetomo set up his seat.  He was Yoritomo's second son and was the third shogun at the age of 13.

The Cave of the Last Samurai
(I'm not so sure that's what this is really called, but I think it sounds nice and dramatic!)

Just up the road a bit we came to the site of Toshoji Temple's ruins.  I did not get a good shot of the site on this trip, but here is a picture from a previous hike.

Toshojibashi Bridge

This bridge had a pretty view and as the trees started to close in around us, the sounds of the city started to fade away....ahhhh....I heart hiking!

Back in the early 1200's, Toshoji Temple was built by the Hojo clan.  In 1333, Hojo Takatoki, who was the most important man in the shogunate at that time, was under attack and defeat was certain.  So, he, his family, and his followers all committed suicide and the Kamakura Shogunate ended.  

Harakiri Yagura

Just a few steps onto the trail it splits.  

If you take the split to the left you will end up at the site where Takatoki and his family committed suicide.

We walked back to the split, headed in the other direction and immediately hit stairs and steps and inclines.  The kids were amazing!  Garytt had a few issues with heights and needed a little hand holding and encouragement in the beginning.  Mackenzie was a natural though!  When the trail would split around a tree, with one route being a gentle incline and the other route being one on which you had to grab hold of roots and precariously balance your toe on a small ledge; she took the more difficult route, and had a blast doing it, giggling and bouncing around like a kid, well, like a kid on a hike!

We got to the top of the hill and had a beautiful view of Kamakura Beach.  Those hands in my shot below were pointing to our prize for the day...


We took a little time to rest our feet before we headed back to the trail.  I'm not quite sure the significance of the little statues behind the kids, but it sure looked like they were headless.

Yaguma jinja 

At the bottom of this part of the trail we walked into the back side of a small shrine, Yagumajinja Shrine.  {I didn't hear the history of this place, and didn't see anything to read for an explanation.  I found some random place on the internet that says this place (she calls it Yakumojinja) is dedicated to Susanoo, a god who stops diseases and disasters}


We hopped back on the trail just out the front of the shrine's grounds and headed to our next temple.  According to our guide, this neighborhood was the residence of the Satake family.  After Satake Yoshimori, a member of the Satake family, entered the priesthood and built Tafukuji in 1300, Venerable Priest Ichijoin Nisshutsu of the Nichiren sect rebuilt it in 1444 and made its original temple name its mountain name to make the temple title Tafukuzan Daihoji.  Kosodate Kishimojin, who watches the peaceful growth of children, is revered in the main hall.

We took a little time to rest and eat a little lunch.  The temple was nice enough to allow us access to their restrooms and let us lounge on their lawn, for a small donation,  

After we were all rested and fed, our group decided to split.  All of the mothers with little children decided to head back to Kamakura Station and go home.  The rest of the group decided to continue on the trail all the way to Zushi Station.  I could see the sideways glances from a few of the ladies in the remaining group....they thought they were going to get rid of all the kids.  Apparently, they were too far back in the line of the 40 other hikers to see my kids at the front of the hiking line waiting on everyone else to move out of their way.  By the end of the day almost all of the ladies on the second half of the hike high-fived the kids and said over and over how fabulous they were!  :D

Here's a shot after the split.  Stairs....stairs....and....more....stairs!!!  One person on the trail counted 298 steps.  Garytt said it was ten hundred million, sounds about right to me!  Once we got to the top it leveled out and was smooth sailing all the way to the end.

1,000 Year Old Trading Trail

I'm not quite sure what this area is called, but it has an interesting story.  In the picture on the left you can see cliffs in the background.  Samurai used to stand guard on top of those cliffs.  It was the perfect position to be in when people tried to attack...a cliff face with lots of hills below.  The picture on the right shows where we are headed.  We got back on the trail, walked down a bit, then walked back up for a while before ending up at stairs leading to that pagoda.

A few neat caves

I've mentioned Fusako-san a few times.  Here is a shot with her and Garytt.  He has officially adopted her as his Japanese grandmother.  He talked to her for almost two hours straight!  I don't think she understood but a dozen words he said (Lego, Disney, dog, cat, karate, mountain) but she nodded and smiled at all the right moments.  She held his hand and when he got too close to the edge of the trail she pulled him back.  Toward the end of the hike I heard him ask her, "Can just you and me go on a hike some time, please?"

Okay...back on the trail...when we got to the gate below, we climbed more stairs and found ourselves at the pagoda.  Next to the pagoda was a monument with a statue inside.  Not sure what that is all about.  I'm not even sure what this place is officially called.  The ladies in the tour group called it the White Monkey Shrine.  You'll see why in a bit.

Monkey Shrine

Okay, so what I heard was this:  when Nichiren (founder of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism) was trying to get into Kamakura, the leader of the Hojo clan was trying to find and arrest him.  While Nichiren was trying to find a way in a white monkey came to him.  The monkey fed him and then led him to a secret path into Kamakura.  

If anyone can read that and tell me what it says, that'd be great!

I forgot to turn on my map thingie to tell me how far we walked.  One of the ladies on the trip said she logged 7 miles.  We made it back to the house around 1600 with goodies in hand....I read about a seasonal chocolate that is supposed to be good.  When I saw the box in the store I grabbed it to see what it tastes like.  I mean, who can pass up on a chocolate called "Meltykiss"?  Let me just say....this is my newest most favoritest candy!!!!  I will be on the lookout for more of these yummy delicious treats!!  Oh, Mackenzie got her norm...chocolate Pocky.  Garytt found a different flavor of Pocky, berry.  It was pretty yummy too.  We sure were exhausted.  Both kids conked out pretty quick, I did too.  :)  Great day!!!  Can't wait for the next hike!  Garytt can't either (especially since he cried when we had to part ways with Fusako-san).

Our group before the split.

The Gionyama Hiking Course.  We started at the left and ended at the right.

This is our path through Kamakura