6 November 2012

V in Japan - Day 5

Day 5 – A visit to Kamakura

  • Date: October 17
  • Weather: Warm and clouded, turned into rain afterwards.
  • Mood: okay, though I've felt better

Kamakura - The Beach

We decided to leave the crowded atmosphere of Tokyo and went to a nearby place called Kamakura. Kamakura is located 50 kms south of Tokyo and has both beach and mountains. It is worth a visit, if you don't mind hiking.

We arrived in Kamakura in the morning, packed with rain gear (because there was a 30% chance of us getting rain). But when we arrived, it was hot with a bit of clouds. We stuffed our rain gear in our backpacks and headed for the beach.

We noticed that Kamakura beach is apparently a surfer beach (Zamokuza Beach). We spotted a few surfer-style shops and several people were out surfing (even if it was the middle of the week). We had our breakfast (bought some stuff from the bakery in the station) on a pier at the beach.

While Francis and me bought typical western pastries (like croissants), Steven ate a classic from animes: Melon bread. He noticed it did not have any melon, but only a slight melon-like flavor. Somehow, we were a little disappointed with that result.

We enjoyed the weather and the scenery of water, surfers, random kids (seriously, don’t they have school?), many crows and a random bird of prey.


Visiting the Kamakura Buddha

After relaxing for a while, we went back to the station, to find the easiest way to get to the Kamakura Buddha (the second tallest of Japan). The easiest way ended up being a busride, so we took it.

After a short trip on the bus, we stopped at the Buddha and had a look around. We also went inside the Buddha, as the inner part of the bronze statue was open for public.

There were lots of school kids at the site (recognizable by the colored hats/caps) that spotted tourists and asked them some questions, ordered by their teachers (ah, so it was a school trip, that’s why). We were interviewed by several kids and had pictures taken with them


Visitng the Hasedara temple

After the Buddha, we visited a nearby temple (Hase-dera temple).

Due to a short toilet break, we kind of split up for a short while. When everyone was finished we gathered back. In a rush to get back to us, Francis took a wrong step. He tripped and fell into a pond (I could show you the picture, but I promised him not to upload that one). His glasses didn't break and (more importantly) his quite-new iPhone survived the fall in the water.

The Hase-dera area is worth a visit. Lots of buddha statues of varied sizes (from very small to quite big), a nice temple and a good view over Kamakura.

well f__k you too
Oh, look at Steven's blessing message, clearly not being sarcastic...

Walking the Daibutu Hiking Course

After that visit, we took a hiking path (Daibutu Hiking Course). This course goes by lots of different small temples in the area, which are all available to visit. The path went up and down in the mountains of Kamakura (yeah, from the beach to mountains, Kamakura does have it all).

We stopped for a drink in a mountain café and noticed the weather started to shift into rain. After this intercourse, we continued the course in dry weather. But the further we walked, the harder it started to rain.

We visited 3 or 4 temples, though I can’t remember the names of the places we visited. The rain kind of decreased the pleasure out the visits. The rain also obviously decreased the number of people we encountered.

One cool thing we spotted: One of the temples had a rock to throw dishes at (Ma-Saru-ishi), to cast away your negative feelings.


Returning to Tokyo

Due to darkness creeping in again (yeah, it’s dark quite early in Japan) and the weather not clearing up, we decided to walk back to the station.

We followed some random pointers, as the tourist maps in our hands and on the streets weren't very clear on how to get back to the station (remember this, it's going to be a running gag). It's a miracle we got back to the station without getting lost, honestly.

It was about six o'clock when we got to the station, so we ended up in the rush hour for the train back to Tokyo. Oh, well. Wasn't THAT bad (quite similar to Rush hours in other countries, honestly).

Back at K's House, we wanted to eat something BIG, because we didn’t eat since the breakfast at the beach. We were so hungry we could eat a horse. So we went to a ramen restaurant nearby K’s House and ordered a big dish of noodles.

Steven exaggerated and ordered “monster size noodles”, a side-dish of gyoza (dumplings) and a dish of bamboo shoots. He shared some of the noodles, veggies and dumplings, but he did finish the plate in the end.

We went back to K’s House for the free drink night, which is held every Wednesday. But we ended up arriving a little too late; the “free” drinks were all gone. So we went to bed instead.

Tips for traveling in Japan - Vending machines

When in Japan, drink Suntory hot coffee… like a boss!

"Like a boss!"

I do mention ”Hot”, because vending machines serve both hot and cold drinks, including hot and cold coffee. You can notice the difference on the cards with the name of the drink. Blue cards are cold drinks, red cards are hot drinks. Don't forget this, because the logic of which drinks are hot and which ones are cold is not always as you might expect!

For example, The hot coffee cans taste very good (different flavors for each taste). But believe me, the cold coffee cans taste awful. It’s not iced coffee. It’s like hot coffee that stood out there for an hour, becoming cold (ugh).

And yes, it's important to cover vending machines. Because you will encounter tons of them. There's at least 1 vending machine on like each corner of the street, and sometimes on multiple locations within the same street. And yes, even in smaller cities and towns, vending machines pop up everywhere (although in smaller number than in Tokyo or Kyoto).

And on an absurd side-note, the number of trash-cans to throw the empty cans/bottles into are much harder to find. Don't throw trash on the street, people WILL judge you for littering. If you can't find a trash can, keep the empty can/bottle with you until you spot one, or until you reach the hotel/hostel.

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