On Tuesday April 19th, I decided to get out of Tokyo for another day trip (yes, I am still writing up my Tokyo-area adventure!). This time, I decided to go to Kamakura. I figured, what with my love of big Buddhas, I couldn’t exactly leave Japan without seeing The Great Buddha of Kamakura, could I?
I based most of this day trip on the very helpful information I found in my Lonely Planet Tokyo City Guide (7th edition). The guide said, “Be sure to stroll up Komachi-dori from Kamakura Station“, so I did. My instinct was to run straight to the Daibutsu (Great Buddha), but when I looked at the map I realised that wouldn’t be the most sensible option. So, my day went something like this:
- Walk up Komachi-dori (street) and visit Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (shrine) which is sort of at the end of the street.
- Walk to Daibutsu at Kotoku-in (temple) – Warning: long walk! I could have taken the Enoden (train) but I fancied the walk because it was a lovely day in the end.
- Visit Hase-dera (temple).
- Take the Enoden to Enoshima and see what’s there.
Originally I had thought I might write all of that up in one post. However, the day consisted of over 450 photos… so I thought I had better split it up a bit!
So, I’ll start at the beginning. I arrived in Kamakura bright and early around 10am. Kamakura is only a 50 minute train ride from Shinagawa, and only costs 690 Yen (one way), so it’s a very doable day trip from Tokyo. Exiting the JR Station, Komachi-dori was easy to spot:
It was exactly what I was expecting – a typical shrine/temple approach, lined with souvenir shops ranging from traditional:
Oh how I wanted to buy everything I saw! They had these amazingly tacky Daibutsu head soft toy/cushions. They were actual head-sized! But I had to reason with myself – it would have been quite difficult to get that home on the plane and, really, did I actually need a Buddha’s head?!
It was relatively early, and only a Tuesday, but the streets were really quiet. I wondered if it was because of the drop in tourism due to the disasters, or if it was usually a quiet time.
At the end of Komachi-dori I easily found Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu. First I spotted this tiny little torii gate:
Then I followed the trees around to the right, where I found its big brother:
According to Wikipedia, this shrine is “the most important Shinto Shrine in the city of Kamakura“. I really knew very little about it, but the Lonely Planet said “it is dedicated to a deity who is both the god of war and the guardian of the Minamoto clan“.
Unfortunately, it had started to rain a bit as I approached the shrine. Still, I didn’t let a little rain bother me too much. I spent quite a while wandering around the shrine, taking photos and enjoying the very peaceful atmosphere.
According to my Lonely Planet, “this bridge was once reserved for the passage of the shogun alone“.
The shrine is located in such a huge space:
I imagine the festivals they hold there would be really amazing.
The shrine and its entrance are coloured bright red:
There were almost no other people around:
The main building was up a lot of steps. By this point in my trip I was getting used to climbing what felt like hundreds of steps every day!
This shrine was very modern in some ways – it had a vending machine for omikuji:
But did still have the traditional shop for omikuji and omamori:
Actually, much to my surprise, they sold omikuji in English! I was really lucky and I got “dai-kichi” which means “excellent”:
Cynically, I couldn’t help wondering if all the English ones were “dai-kichi”, just to keep the foreigners happy…
This gate is pretty impressive:
And it had some very beautiful raised carvings on it, much like the ones I had seen in Nikko the day before:
I couldn’t get over how quiet it was there.
If you visit this shrine, be sure to stop at the top for the view:
By the time I was done wandering around the shrine, the sky was black and it was raining.
However, by the time I had wandered back down Komachi-dori (avoiding the rickshaw guys on the way)…
…the sun was starting to break through the clouds! In fact, by the time I came out of the Ghibli shop, which is near the entrance to Komachi-dori:
…it was turning into a beautiful day!
So that was when I decided to walk to the Daibutsu. Luckily, my route took me past a Starbucks:
I thought this Starbucks had an excellent design. I’ve been using this Starbucks to try to work out the route I walked. It was about across from the Kamakura City Office which is on Onarimachi. I basically followed this road straight (away from JR Kamakura Station) until I saw signs for “Daibutsu”, of which there were plenty.
The signs took me through some small residential areas:
I could never tell you what street this was! Anyway, it’s walkable from the station, but it did take a while. Finally, fuelled by my Starbucks Matcha Frappuccino and the beautiful sun, I reached Kotoku-in… but I shall leave that for the next blog! 😉
By the way, as you may remember, I have been taking part in WordPress.com’s Post A Week challenge this year. Each day I get an email from The Daily Post, offering me suggestions for ways to keep up with the challenge. Once a week they post a “Weekly Photo Challenge”. This weeks theme is “Red” and, because my post today seems to contain an awful lot of red, I figured I would enter it into the challenge. So far I have had no problems keeping up with the Post A Week challenge I set myself. Hopefully I will be able to continue, especially with the help of The Daily Post. Thanks WordPress.com! 😀