Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A day in Kamakura

Tuesday my friends (who happen to be students) and I went off to Kamakura, a city not too far from Tokyo. Everyone else seems to know what to look at and how to get places but I just followed along all day. (Tetsu's expressive term for this is "being the poop hanging from a goldfish".)

Unfortunately I first had to do my crosswalk duty and then raced as quickly as I could to the next city over to meet Yumiko-san who had waited for me. Three other ladies took an earlier Bullet train and Yumiko-san and I got a later start. I noticed a lot of people using their cell phones to fly through the ticket gates but I don't know how to do that yet...

The Bullet train to Tokyo takes about 45 minutes. Yumiko-san transferred us to another train and then another train and finally two hours after leaving my city we arrived in Kamakura. We quickly met up with our other three friends and another friend who had come in from the southern part of Japan to join us for the day. 6 chatty ladies, wandering around enjoying the sights!

Kamakura is famous for it's shrines and temples and also for a very large statue of Buddha at one of the temples. We didn't get to that temple this trip but we found an artist's shop that specialized in CATS and I had to buy one of the postcards depicting Kamakura. See the kitties in the lower right hand corner?

The temples were beautiful in the autumn scenery and many sightseers were sporting very professional looking cameras and snapping pictures of the beautiful leaves.

The six of us had made reservations for lunch at a rather famous hole-in-the-wall restaurant and we enjoyed an elaborate lunch of traditional Japanese food, delicately flavored and daintily displayed. It really was delicious!!! I thought the pretty kimono clad lady sitting by the window overlooking a Japanese garden, so picturesque.

Lunch started out with buckwheat berries and mushrooms (a bit of seaweed on there and also a slice of potato). The orange in that small bowl are salmon eggs! Oh, so good! Yes, I know. When I was a child we used to use salmon eggs as bait to go fishing... Did you know these are a delicacy? What had I been feeding to the fish all those fishing trips?

Next a few morsels of raw fish. There is seaweed there too, and also some chrysanthemum petals.

The next course was a slice of grilled fish, and a huge sweet bean and a delicately flavored slice of potato.

In this beautiful dish were a few pieces of simmered vegetables.

Next, rice, pickles, vinegary vegetables and miso soup.

And finally a portion of pumpkin pudding. Ahh! Completely satisfied!

After lunch we all walked over to a very small temple that was known to have hid Christians during the era of persecutions in Japan. Kaoru-san chose this sightseeing spot especially for me because my grandparents on my mother's side came from Kamakura and my mother's mother's family were members of a Christian community that had to flee underground during that time. This Buddhist temple has a "hidden" cross on it's gate lintels and we wandered around wondering if my ancestors had ever passed under this gate.

All the temples' gardens were beautiful even in this season of no flowers.

Can you guess what this is?

It is a specially designated area to tie your fortunes. This is at a shrine and the custom is to buy paper fortunes and if they aren't up to par to leave them tied at the shrine. One doesn't want bad fortune to follow you home!

This is a view from the shrine looking over the one of the gates and then over the city of Kamakura.

And here are all of us sightseeing ladies!

After a little shopping for trinkets we headed home. Tokyo station is like a maze!!! And all the people going in every direction at once! It was a good thing Kaoru-san wore a bright yellow coat or I'd never have gotten home!

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