Day 4 – Kamakura
5.45AM, Ueno – I’ve been awake since 4.45AM, not because of jet lag, but because I fell asleep at 7PM after dinner. I must have been tired from all the walking. I’m heading to Kamakura today, a coastal town an hour south of Tokyo. There are two good temple hikes that last a couple hours. I shall do those and see everything else in between. The weather is forecast to shower in Tokyo – I am unsure what it is supposed to be south.
Things I Have Learned:
- The Japanese are very aggressive cyclists
- They all wait patiently at crossings, even if there is no traffic
- Every man wears a suit
- Their pedestrian traffic management is a wonder
- There hasn’t been one mention of Fukushima since I’ve been here
Right shower time, which for the record isn’t small – I’ve managed fine.
7.40AM, Underneath Tokyo – I’m on a packed underground train due south. I’m not sure whether the train is underground the whole way, I expect it empties out once we leave Central Tokyo.
7.56AM, Musashi – We’re outside now and what really becomes apparent as we speed along is just how high density Tokyo is. For miles and miles it’s just skyscraper after skyscraper. Nobody has gardens and small houses have no conformity in terms of their spacing; they’re all just built askew to take up every inch of spare space. Greater Tokyo is just massive.
We’re just coming into Yokohama and I just caught my first glimpse of a bullet train as it flew past – I’m excited to ride one tomorrow and am glad I managed to get a seat booked. I’m starting to get hungry! Just in Totsuka now, it’s lovely blue skies here – hopefully the weather forecast of rain was just for central Tokyo…
11.58AM, Hasedera Temple – I’ve stopped for some lunch as it was one of those vending machine things – just as well, none of the staff seemed to speak English. One thing I won’t miss about Japan is its chopsticks. I’ve had a lovely day so far – the views up here of the Kamakura bay are amazing. There’s a real wow factor. I’ve done a lot of walking – the hiking trail was quite up-and-down and after yesterday’s walkathon, it’s definitely quite tiring.
12.48PM, Hasedera Temple – Heated toilet seats, never again.
12.49PM, Hasedera Temple – Heated toilet seats, definitely again.
5.30PM, Ueno – Must. Sit. Down. So what did I see today? Just opposite Kita-Kamakura station was Engaku-Ji, a stunning temple in the middle of the mountains. I just beat the school trip rush so it was amazingly quiet. The buildings lack the grandeur of Nikko, but they were beautiful in their own way. It was the silence that made it.
A short walk from that was Tokei-Ji, a shrine that used to be a sanctuary for women. There was no-one there and I was free to explore it’s grounds and Buddhist cemetery in the mountains. I’ve never been at a more peaceful state – the birds providing the only noise amid the wind in the trees. The early morning light was fantastic for photography as well – it had lovely gardens that would have surely pleased mum.
Then I stopped at Jochi-Ji – another shrine which was empty. I then took the Diabutsu Hiking Course to the giant Buddha by the sea. It, as stated above, was around two hours of hard work, but in the mountain woodland with fantastic views, it wasn’t that bad. There were plenty of children on school trips – a few of them were inquisitive to say hello and ask how I was in English. The giant Buddha was certainly impressive (it’s the second largest in Japan – the biggest is at Nara which I’ll see in a couple weeks) and for 20 yen (around 16p) you could go inside where it is hollow.
After that I walked to the temple where I had lunch. I then sat on the beach for an hour before walking back to Kamakura town centre. That was probably a little silly as by the time I got there my legs were quite bad. I sat on a bench for a bit before seeing the town’s shrine, up a lovely flower decorated promenade.
I then sat people watching and photographing those that walked past (I think I managed to get the best street photograph I’ve ever taken).
The whole time I saw one westerner group, who seemed like a local and an American couple going the opposite way. It was clear blue skies the whole time. Perfect.
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