Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Great Buddha

Connecting the Dots

I have hiked the trails in Kamakura so much and visited the many Shrines frequently. Despite my wandering, I’ve never taken the time to determine how they are all connected. Today, Katie and I hiked the Daibutsu Trail with the intention of finding the trails to the Benzaiten Shrine (Money Washing Shrine) and the Sasukeinari Shrine (White Fox Shrine).

We met at 8:30 at Zushi station and took the train to Kita Kamakura. We were on our way hiking by 8:45. We needed to set out early because I had my first Japanese language class today. (More on that in a few.)

The Daibutsu Trail greeted us with hydrangeas from the start!

It was also good to start early because it is humid and warm. Rainy season has started and as a result, the foliage is green and lush.

We made it to the first small Shrine at the top of the small mountain in good time. We were again rewarded with hydrangea beginning to bloom.

Plus, the early bird gets the… turtle photo! Oh my gosh! So, cute!

And more hydrangea. I loved the contrast of the fresh blooms with the old tree.

We continued our way through the park and used Google Maps to help guide us to the Money Washing Shrine.

Before too long, we were walking along a trail that passed above the Shrine. We stopped and looked around the Shrine before continuing on our way.

Finding the White Fox Shrine from here was a little tricky. We used Google Maps to point us in the right direction. However, we couldn’t find the path. Instead we cut through the neighborhood and found our way along the streets.

Less than five minutes later, we found The White Fox Shrine.

Here’s our selfie at the Torii. I love exploring with this girl. Kindred VB spirits. She’s adventurous and chill even when we have no idea where we are going exactly. My only complaint is she makes me hike in front and then proceeds to talk about snakes. And yes, we saw one today. Katie’s spirit name is “snake whisperer.”

The White Fox Shrine is still so cute.

We made our way towards the back of the Shrine. On my previous visit, I remembered I saw a trail leading up and away from the Shrine. This time, we followed it.

The trail was a little treacherous and would be awful hiking after it rained. It was already slick and a bit slippery. We made it to the top without issue. And back to the main Daibutsu Trail. It was here, we realized how the trails and Shrines connected. We normally follow the trail to the Big Buddha. The trail going to the left will take you to the White Fox Shrine.

If only we could read Japanese, this might not be such a mystery. As we finished up our hike, hydrangeas waved us goodbye.

We took the train from Hase Station to Kamakura Station. We walked around Kamakura and bought a refreshing beverage before heading home. My Japanese classes are now going to be held on Tuesdays at another student’s house here in Ikego. Our teacher is my Friday English sensei. I wish I would have asked her a long time ago… like 18 Months. But, better late than never! I’ll let you know how my Japanese improves.

Kamakura Highlights

We gave ourselves time to relax and recharge after our trip home from Hiroshima Wednesday night. Thursday was dedicated to exploring Kamakura. Dave and I really enjoy walking around and shopping in Kamakura. We were excited to share our favorite spots with our friends. The first stop was at the Great Buddha of Kamakura. We were again lucky to see Sakura still blooming.

By the time we left the Great Buddha, we were ready for some ice cream. Not a problem. In fact, we enjoyed ice cream and croquettes.

We took the train back to Kamakura from Hase and stopped for lunch. We went to the conveyor sushi restaurant Dave and I visited a few weeks ago. We made quite the stack of plates. Strong work for a party of six!

Next up on the itinerary was a stop at the Owl Forest.

During our visit, we found Jennifer’s Patronus (Reference: Harry Potter – aka spirit animal).

Speaking of Harry Potter… We found Hedwig!

We walked up Komachi Dori, the main shopping street, and made our way to The Hachiman-gu Shrine.

We had fun posing by the sake barrels.

Our visit at the Shrine was cut a little short because we had reservations at 5:00pm at the newly opened Shiba inu cafe. Yes, a puppy cafe. In Kamakura. We were beyond excited and it was even more amazing than we imagined. I might need to make a stop here on Friday afternoons after my English class. Because puppies.

After the puppy cafe, we worked our way back home. We stopped for one last picture of Chase and a huge teddy bear at Tully’s Coffee. So, cute!

Buddha and Sakura

Friday morning Cindy and I started our day with a visit to the Great Buddha of Kamakura. Of all the places we visit on a Julia Tour, the Great Buddha of Kamakura is my favorite.

It takes about 45 minutes on three different trains to get to Hase Station. From Hase Station, it is about a ten minute walk to the Great Buddha. I enjoy the trip with my first timers because we ride three different train lines: Keikyu Line, JR Line, and the Endoshima Electric Railway. The Endoshima Electric Railway very popular and even has its own emoji 🚃 !

The Great Buddha of Kamakura Temple is beautiful. Even on our cloudy morning, the Great Buddha was impressive.

At times, the Temple can become quite crowded with tour groups.

Typically, the tour groups don’t stay very long. If you’re patient enough to wait for them to leave, you can experience a more serene environment and the opportunity take a few photos without too many people.

No trip is complete without a visit inside the Great Buddha. For ¥20 (20 cents) you can enter inside “Buddha’s Pooper” (a phrase coined by Bill Johnson during his visit).

Once we made our wishes and collected a temple stamp for Cindy, we took the train back to Kamakura. I left Cindy on Komachi Dori, the main shopping street in Kamakura, while I went to my English class. I was so proud of her for handling two hours solo in Japan! After my class, we met up and decided to go see the Sakura blossoms on the Miura Peninsula. Normally, we would visit the Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Shrine as part of our Kamakura day. However, we decided to save that visit for Sunday and seize the opportunity to see blooming Sakura trees.

We hopped on the train and away we went! From Kamakura we went back to Zushi and then down south to Miurakaigan where a special species of Sakura blooms very early.

The trees were not quite at peak bloom. They were gorgeous nonetheless. I’m glad we waited until the afternoon to visit. The pink flowers look beautiful against the blue skies.

We walked along the tracks for a little bit. I wanted to take Cindy to the bridge that crosses the tracks and provides a great vantage point for photographing the Sakura and passing trains.

As we walked back to the train station, we snapped a few pictures along the way.

As the sun set on our fun Friday, we met Dave for dinner in Yokosuka. We took Cindy to our favorite Korean BBQ restaurant. We cooked dinner over the hot coals and shared our days adventures. We all agreed to calling it an early night. Saturday we are taking the ITT trip to see the Snow Monkeys. We have to meet the bus at 3:30am. With a 2:30 reveille in my future, I’ll say goodnight for now!

Snow Beautiful

The snow on Monday caused a lot of chaos. The roads were a mess and the trains were delayed. It took Dave an extra 30 minutes to get home on the trains. One friend told us it took him 2.5 hours to drive home to Ikego from main base (usually this drive takes 25 minutes). The schools on base had a snow day Tuesday and the base told only essential personnel to report. Dave didn’t leave until around 8:00am. I decided to walk down the hill to the train station with him and go for a walk. My walk/train rides took me to Kamakura. My first stop was to see the Great Buddha. He was beautiful covered in his snow blanket.

Instead of taking the Enoshima line train back to Kamakura station, I decided to walk along the beach. It was worth the trip! Don’t let the water color fool you! It would be very chilly. Look at all the snow on the beach.

I continued my walk towards the Hachiman-gu Shrine. As I was walking along the street, I kept hearing this horrible sound (like a belt slipping) coming from many of the passing cars. It took me a couple minutes and then I realized, most of the buses and delivery trucks had chains on their tires! Ha! I haven’t seen those in a while!

The Shrine was very beautiful in the snow.

As I was taking the last picture, I noticed people were entering the Peonies Garden. Surely, it’s not open? Yes, yes it was! I decided to take a walk through. I haven’t been since last April. Dave and I went to view the Sakura trees and peonies. The peonies were beautiful in the snow. Instead of parasols to keep off the rain, they had straw huts to protect them from the snow. Kawaii!

I was shocked and confused to see the gardens open and peonies blooming. Especially, because we went to visit them in April last year. A little research and I learned the garden is open from New Year’s Day until mid-February. It opens again at the beginning of April until the middle of May. So, good news for my friends visiting in April, you will have a chance to see the gardens for yourself! We will keep our fingers crossed the Sakura trees are also blooming that week! 🤞🏼🌸

I also learned about this unique garden. The stones were a present from the Chinese government in 1984. In China, peonies were planted with these unique and famous stones from Taigi Lake in Jiangsu Province in Eastern China. The stones are now protected by Chinese law and can no longer be exported.

By the time I was returning home around noon, a lot of the snow had melted. The sunshine and rising temperatures helped restore things back to normal. The snow was beautiful while it lasted!

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