Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Kamakura (Page 1 of 5)

Something New

My Friday English class is at a Community Center in Kamakura. Dave and I visit Kamakura frequently on weekends. Plus, Kamakura is a highlight on every Julia Tour. Until today, I thought I “knew” Kamakura. Turns out, I’ve been missing a beautiful Temple and scenic passageway to get to my Friday English class. Hidden in plain sight.

Let me backup and start from the beginning. In case you haven’t heard, the 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo. There is already concern that many foreigners while want to visit Kamakura and the Great Buddha while attending the Olympics. The local government is encouraging residents to become familiar with giving directions. One of my students requested that I assist them in learning how to give directions. So, at class today, Sensei asked me to give step by step directions from when I get off the train at Kamakura Station to arriving at our classroom. My directions went something like this:

1. Exit the train and walk down the stairs.

2. At the bottom of the stairs, turn right.

3. Continue straight, walk up a few stairs and then exit the station.

4. Walk straight across the street using the crosswalk.

5. Walk one block and then turn right.

For reference, this is the turn right intersection. My students became very confused. I assumed they wanted me to cross the street and then walk right. But, I explained it’s hot so I walk in the shade, one block, and turn left, crossing the street at the next signal (by the KFC).

There was a lot of chatter and laughter in Japanese after my explanation. They asked why don’t I walk through the Temple. Temple? I don’t know? Which Temple? We will take you after class. Ok!

I continued with my directions.

6. After crossing the street, walk down the street, following the green path.

7. The Community Center is at the end of the road.

8. To your left is the entrance.

9. Walk through the courtyard.

10. Take the second door on your right.

11. Walk up the stairs and the classroom is he first door on your right.

Interestingly, phrases like “walk down the street” and “on your left” or “on your right” are very confusing when learning the language. But, we eventually made it through. At the end of class, as promised, three of my students walked with me to show me the passageway through the Temple. It was beautiful and shaded! Just when I thought I knew my way around Kamakura, I learned something new!! This is the view from the street.

After entering, you walk along a lovely little path.

Check out the Lotus starting to sprout. They should be blooming in the next couple of weeks.

Here is the entrance from the other end.

I have been teaching this Friday English class for over 18 Months now. I can’t believe I’ve missed this picturesque Temple and garden! Now I’m really excited for fall!! Imagine how beautiful the leaves will be when they start to change colors!

Hasedera Temple

Monday was another overcast day with an occasional slight drizzle. Miki and I were already planning to have lunch. Since Dave and I didn’t have any luck on Saturday visiting Hasedera Temple, I invited Miki to go with me to see the hydrangeas before we ate lunch. I was hoping Hasedera Temple would be less crowded on an overcast Monday. It was probably less crowded than Saturday, but there were still a lot of people! We had a 40 minute wait to before it was our turn to walk through the hydrangea path! Our group number was 789. Miki made me laugh when she said it was like the wait at Disneyland!

While we waited for our number to be called, we walked around the Temple and enjoyed the beautiful gardens

I couldn’t believe the number of people also visiting the temple today. Last year, when we walked up the entry steps there were only a few people. This year the stairs were packed!

Despite the crowd, the hydrangeas were so beautiful. I tried to take pictures of all the different colors and varieties. There were so many!

I found several hydrangea clusters that looked liked hearts.

The view from the top of the path was beautiful. The Beach in the background is Kamakura Beach. I know you can’t tell from these pictures, but there were so many surfers in the water.

Miki and I paused along the path for a selfie. I was very surprised when she told me this was her first visit to Hasedera Temple during hydrangea season. She also suggested we return in autumn when the leaves are changing. After flower chasing, leaf chasing is my next favorite thing to do in Japan!

I love the stone pagoda. I took several pictures of it from different angles.

A few more close up pictures of the hydrangeas. I love the rain drops on some of them.

We finished walking through the path and made our way through the rest of the gardens. Everything was so lush and beautiful.

Thank you, Miki, for being very patient today while we waited for our turn to walk through the hydrangeas. I enjoyed sharing my day and your beautiful country with you!

Meigetsu-in Temple 2018

I started my hydrangea Temple chasing a little earlier this year. Last year I waited until the end of June to visit Meigetsu-in Temple. This year, I wanted to visit a little earlier. Last night, several of my neighbors were discussing going to the Meigetsu-in Temple this morning to see the blue hydrangea. They have young children and were able to arrange child care specifically to visit the Temple today. I was more than happy to tag along! Oh, and give them a small taste of a Julia Tour.

We met at 9:00am and were at the Temple in Kita Kamakura by 9:45. It was already so crowded. My main photo objective was to photograph the steps leading up to the gate. I anticipated a crowd. But, nothing like this!

We were able to walk slowly and the crowd thinned a little bit.

This is the picture I wanted because it matches the wall hanging I recently purchased.

I used the Retouch App to cut out the people. What do you think?

If you have amazing skills with using photoshop or another photo editing app and want to try editing them out, let me know. I’ll send you the original. I ordered an 8×10 photo of my edited version this afternoon. We will see how it looks when it arrives.

Here are a few other pictures from out and around the Temple. The blue hydrangeas are so beautiful.

I remembered from last year how cute the Buddhas were decorated.

The zen rock garden was so serene.

It was fun to visit the Temple together. There has been a big turnover of people in our neighborhood in the past 6 months. These ladies all live at the top of the hill close to us. Here’s our hydrangea selfie!

And then just me. (My tattoo was exposed again this year. No one seemed to care! 🙄)

I think there is a good chance I will go back this week in the early morning to try and get the stair picture without people. I talked with my Japanese sensei at English class this afternoon and she recommended I arrive at 7:30am. Good thing I’m an early bird! I feel like I need to seize every flower chasing opportunity because I have a sneaky suspicion we will transfer before this time next year. More on that when things solidify a bit more. In the meantime, I’ll obsessively chase flowers!

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.

Sunday Flowers

Dave and I decided to spend our Sunday chasing flowers in Kamakura. First, we stopped for lunch at Barchie’s, our favorite bar in Kamakura. We both ordered wraps with a side of rosemary fries. Dave had the pulled pork and I had the pulled chicken. Both were delicious washed down with a Heartland beer.

After lunch, we went to the Hachiman-gu Shrine to see the peony garden. They were stunning. The snow huts were replaced with parasols.

We couldn’t get over how big the blooms were!

The peony garden is one of my favorite “off the beaten path” spots in Kamakura. It is meticulously groomed and very peaceful.

The warm weather has encouraged the wisteria to bloom as well. A large trellis opposite the peony garden held so many wisteria blossoms.

We walked up to the Shrine and passed a wedding couple. Talk about a following! Look at all the tourists taking their picture.

It was such a beautiful Sunday. No matter how many times we visit, Kamakura remains one of our favorite cities.

Thanks for reading! I hope Spring weather is finally making its way to you!

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!

Early Spring Blooms

We enjoyed a relaxing weekend. Saturday, I visited the farmer’s market being held on base. I came away with several treasures, none of them were food! I purchased two antique pieces. One is a chest and the other a tea tansu. I love them and have already incorporated them into our decor.

We also had the opportunity to visit our favorite lunch spot in Kamakura. Barchie’s remains one of our favorites restaurants. We stopped in for lunch on Sunday.

Check out this ingenious idea. I ordered a bbq rib burrito. It was served wrapped in wax paper and sliced in half. As I ate it, I peeled away the wax paper. All the juices dripped out the bottom of the burrito and were collected by the wax paper! Brilliant!

After lunch, we walked around Kamakura. A couple of the white Sakura trees are starting to bloom. Everyone was taking pictures!! We couldn’t resist either!

As you’re reading this, Jennifer, please don’t be alarmed. I took a picture of the pink grove across the pond. This is also where the peony garden is located. The pink Sakura are not blooming yet. They still have about 7-10 days. Plus, there is a lot rain in the forecast this week. The rain will slow down the blooms. I think timing will be perfect for your visit!

In the meantime, please enjoy the early spring blooms. The white Sakura, plum blossoms, and daffodils.

Beautiful Weather

The past few days, the weather has been absolutely amazing. Yesterday, I spent time gardening and refreshing my flower pots on our front porch. Today, I decided it would be best to enjoy a hike. I started in Kamakura at the end of the Red Leaf Trail. Dave and I last hiked it in November. When we did that hike, we came to a fork in the trail and decided to stay on the course of the main trail. My goal today was to hike to the same spot and take “the road less traveled.” Because I was going the opposite way, I was able to gain a different perspective while hiking the trail. Like the steepness of the uphill – normally a downhill!

Soon I made it to the first split.

Did I already mention how beautiful it was today!?! I was dressed in capris and a short sleeve shirt with a fleece. Not too long into the hike, I put the fleece in my backpack!

I made it to the second split in the trail and continued along the path Dave and I traveled before.

It was after reaching the summit, the last picture above, that I veered left instead of right. I knew following the trail to the right would lead me back to Kamakura. The hike continued to be beautiful.

At one point, I passed a huge cemetery.

I also passed numerous other hikers out enjoying the day. We exchanged “Konnichiwa” and a couple times they would engage me in a conversation They would ask, “where from?” My simple reply, “Chicago.” Their response, “Ahh, America.” “Hai, America,” I would agree. I laughed and felt a little bit badly for my Illinois friends. I don’t mean to diss the state, or think Chicago is the only part of the state. It is just easier to say Chicago because Chicago is known internationally. So, yes, I’m from: Chicago, America. I also realize I’m from the United States of America. However, when I say I’m from the U.S., it creates much confusion. So, although there are many Americas, most people I meet think of the United States of America as “America.” Sorry, I digressed on that one, but I’ve had the question from wabisabisole fans as to why I say Chicago and not the U.S.

Back to my beautiful hike. After the cemetery, I pooped out at a rest station where I found a beautiful map. I studied it for no less than 10 minutes. I was still unclear about where I should go. There were three trail heads. One I came from. And the other two were a mystery. So, I just went in a direction that seemed correct according to Google Maps.

More beautiful trails.

Until I found a paper plant. OMG! This part of the trail sparked my vertigo. I had to stop, take a picture, and then put phone away. I was insanely worried I would slip. Thankfully, I didn’t see a snake!! I couldn’t help but wonder if he bamboo had been cleared to prevent people from falling.

I made it through and then quickly descended. Soon, I found myself on a road near where I teach English on Thursdays!! Ha!

I walked a little bit and caught the bus to Matsuura Train Station (one stop away from our stop). From there, I took the train home. (Not a picture of my train, but I love the other colored trains.)

I was home by 3pm. It was a four hour trip from door to door and about 5 miles total with 3.5 miles of actual hiking. Pretty good for a beautiful day. I rewarded myself with a glass of wine on our front patio with one of my new favorite plants. How many kitty cats do you see!?!

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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