Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Kamakura (Page 1 of 3)

Long Way Home

Two things were notable during my English class this afternoon. First, my students loved the cakes I brought back from Nagasaki for us to enjoy during tea time. Second, one of my students gave me a huge hug when she saw me. “Sensei, good to see you!” It feels good to be missed!

After my English class, I decided to take the long way back to the train station and walk through Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Shrine. I haven’t been to visit in a few weeks and thought I might have a chance to see a little fall foliage. And who knows what else, I mean it’s Friday!

Check out these crowds! While I was there I observed three weddings and a plethora of school groups.


I walked up the stairs to the top of the Shrine to make my Christmas wish. (Layla, these stairs!) 😳😬

After sending off my Christmas wish, I was ready to find Fall foliage. It was my lucky day! Fall foliage and vermilion bridges.

Plus, a Torii gate.

I found a very secluded spot. The serenity was amazing.

I had to wait patiently to capture some of these pictures without too many people. Like I said, it was crowded.

As I walked back to the train station, I did a little Christmas shopping along Komachi Dori. It was a delightful afternoon doing things I enjoy: teaching, snapping pictures, and shopping! Happy Friday!

Hiking Happiness

Dave and I decided to set out for a hike on Sunday. It was such a glorious Autumn day. We decided to hike the Red Leaf Trail. 

We hiked parts of this last fall. Today, we had plenty of time and hiked about four miles of the trail. About half of the hike was new for us both. The day was so clear, we could see Yokohama in the distance. 

We were hoping to see a little more fall color. The forest was still pretty green. 

We passed through a spectacular Ginkgo grove. It was beautiful. So much yellow. 

The view from the top over Kamakura was worth the climb! 

We passed Kamakura Country Club as we hiked. The golf course also had quite the view. Check out the view at hole 4. 

I snapped a picture of the pompas grass. It’s so peaceful in the wind. 

We had such a fun day hiking our way around Kamakura. It’s hard to believe how close we were to the bustling city as we walked through the quiet woods. There were a lot of people out enjoying the day as well. We exchanged a lot of “Konnichiwas” as we hiked along. We passed this man and his dog shortly after exiting the trail. His dog is in his backpack!! 

We had such a great time today. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a Sunday Fun day as well! 

Beautiful Day

Today was beautiful. It warranted a get out and go attitude. I decided to venture over to Enoshima Island. I’ve been a couple times, both with Dave and Dina. It provides a spectacular vantage point for viewing Mt. Fuji (on a clear day). I knew today would be a great day for a trip to Enoshima because I snapped this picture earlier in the morning from Zushi Beach while enjoying a U.S. phone conversation with my girl, Jules. Enoshima Island is the island slightly off center and in front of Mt. Fuji. 

One part of the island I haven’t had the opportunity to explore are the rocks and sea cave. It is some what of a trek out to the island. It requires three trains and a good bit of walking. Here was my route. 

As I walked across the bridge to the island, I was giddy seeing Mt. Fuji with a snow cap. Signs of cooler weather! 

I decided to walk the stairs on the island vice taking the pay escalators. I figured the steps would do my rainy day lazy legs a favor! I was huffing and puffing by the time I reached the top. But, that view! 

Before descending down the other side to the sea cave, I decided to stop for a quick visit at the Sea Candle. I love the gardens and the Sea Candle and I knew the view would be amazing. I purchased my ¥500 ticket from the machine like a boss and entered the garden. I was greeted by thousands of unlit luminaries. 

I saw the flier with relevant information and have already made plans to return next week in the evening to see them illuminated! I think it will be so enchanting. 

As I approached the Sea Candle entrance, an advertisement for the caves caught my attention. I looked it over and then proceeded to the ticket taker at the entrance. He nicely informed me the sea caves were closed. Oh? Hai! Because typhoon caused damage. Oh! Arigatōgozaimas! I was so thankful he told me before I walked down the other side of the mountain! He also told me he wasn’t sure when it would reopen. 

The views of Mt. Fuji from the Sea Candle were as beautiful as I hoped! 

I walked around and enjoyed the 360 degree view of Shonan Beach. The bridge pictured is the one I walked over to access the island. 

As I was returning to the elevator to go back down, I observed a man taking the stairs. I decided to follow and ignore the sign written in Japanese. Again with the great views! 

The spiral staircase took me down to the Terrace level. As I came to the end of the staircase, I realized my error. Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t think I was supposed to use the stairs. 

Oops – a – daisy! Let’s just keep this between us, shall we? But, just so we are clear, I paid for an entry ticket to the garden and Sea Candle! 

One last view from the Terrace. 

And from the bridge as I walked back to the train station. 

On my way back home, I stopped and did a little shopping. Both in the Shonan Beach area and then in Kamakura. It was just such a beautiful day! 

Typhoon Lan

Typhoon Lan blew through the area on Sunday afternoon into early Monday morning. 

The base shut down during the storm and only essential personnel were required and permitted to enter. Dave went into work Sunday afternoon in preparation for the storm. The base schools were also closed. I was so excited schools were closed because I was supposed to substitute on Monday! Yay, my first ever Typhoon Day! 

By the time the storm was close to us, it had dropped to a Category 2 storm. 

The news reports said our area received 6-9  inches of rain! So much rain!

Here is a picture of the soccer fields on base. Normally, that huge pond is the soccer and baseball field. 

Throughout the storm, emergency alerts would come in on our phones. The Google Translate translations were pretty funny. Haha! 

Our cinder block home was perfectly safe. Just a lot of leaves and debris. 

Dave came home early Monday and we went out for lunch and a walk around. It was wonderful to see blue skies! I feel like it’s rained so much recently. We had lunch in Kamakura at Rooftops. It was a beautiful afternoon. 

After lunch, we walked down to Zushi Beach. Guess who we saw- Mt. Fuji! 


The Beach was busy with surfers catching the storm waves. 

Check this thing out – it didn’t make it through the storm. 

We were very fortunate with this storm. We never lost power and didn’t have any damage. I hope the rest of Japan didn’t experience too much damage! 


Friday we spent the day enjoying many of my favorites in Kamakura. We started with a visit to The Great Buddha. Armed with our umbrellas, we were ready to explore! 

When we arrived at The Great Buddha, I explained the importance of the scary warriors outside the Temple to ward off evil. Nina and Noah posed with their scariest faces! 

The good part about the rain, it kept the crowds down to a minimum. 

No trip to The Great Buddha is complete without going into “Buddha’s Pooper” as coined by Bill Johnson. 

As we walked back to Hase Station, we stopped for ice cream. Yes, despite the chill and rainy weather, 3 out of 4 of us wanted Japanese soft cream. I opted for a warm sweet potato hash brown. 

I must address the significant temperature variation between Thursday and Friday. Thursday if you recall, we were drenched in sweat after walking around Kannonzaki Park and riding the roller slide. Today, we needed sweaters and scarves. Nina and Noah were so chilly at one point, we stopped at the 100¥ store for a pair of gloves! 

We rode the Enoshima Line back to Kamakura around noon. Here we said “mata ne” at Komachi Dori (the main shopping street in Kamakura). Layla, Nina, and Noah explored the street while I went to my English Class. We regrouped at 2:15 by the Torii. 

I was excited to hear about their time we were apart. Their first stopped was at the Owl Forest. They loved the experience of seeing and petting the owls. 

After enjoying time with their feathered friends, they followed my map to Oxymoron. Oxymoron is a coffee shop. But, not the coffee shop I wanted them to visit! I wanted them to go to “character coffee” which is next door. Since I sent them to the wrong place, I took them back to the correct coffee shop. Nina asked for Daisy Duck, Noah asked for Goofy, and I asked for Cinderella. So KAWAII! 

Also, while we were apart, Layla manages a couple cute pictures with the locals. Girls in kimonos and a puppy! 

The final part of our cultural tour of Kamakura was a visit to the Hachimangu Shrine. It’s a beautiful Shrine even in the rain. 

I also tried a new food. Ginko nuts. They were quite bizarre. They were roasted and  reminded me of unopened pistachio nuts at first. Then once I placed my order, the lady cracked them open by hammering them. 

After cracking them, she added salt. 

Then final product was a salty soft nut. I’m not sure if I was so hungry that my judgment was twisted. But, I thought they were pretty good. I ate the whole bag! 

By the end of the day, we were chilly and soggy. We decided to head home and enjoy an American pizza. Kanpie! Happy Friday! 


Dave and I made a quick trip to Kamakura on Sunday night for dinner. I’ve had the bar/ restaurant, Barchie’s, on my list of places to take Dave for a few weeks now. 

Despite the information on Google, they close after lunch at 1500 and reopen at 1700 for dinner. The service at the restaurant was excellent! For example, when we arrived, the server brought the beer list to our table! 

We started with a Heartland Lager (always on tap) and a Coedobeer Session IPA. I love seeing an American pour! 

We ordered an appetizer of garlic edamame. They were really delicious! 

For dinner, I ordered the seared tuna and avocado rice bowl. Very good tasting and a larger portion than normal. 

And Dave ordered the herb sausage platter with salad, grilled vegetables, and rice. 

We will definitely return and perhaps modify our orders. The portions were large and we could have easily shared the rice and salad in my bowl. There is always a learning curve in ordering food in Japan.

We tried two new restaurants this weekend and both made it to our favorites list. We classified this as a successful foodie / craft beer weekend for the Dwyer’s in Japan! Kanpie! 

Quality Time

The leader of my Friday English class organized a field trip for us today. We went to visit Hasedera Temple to see the hydrangeas and enjoyed lunch at the Kamakura Park Hotel. 

This view! 

And these hydrangeas! 

The hydrangeas were still blooming and very beautiful. 

Two of my Friday students were able to attend today and we spent the morning walking around the temple and the town of Hase. Here is a picture of Junko-san and Haruko-san, both are star students! 

After visiting the temple, Junko-san drove us to the Kamakura Park Hotel. We enjoyed a four-course lunch! Our appetizers included: snow pea soup, slice of chicken with vegetables, tomato jelly with sashimi, and a half quiche. 

Next course was snapper with fresh Kamakura vegetables. The purple piece is Kamakura diakon. The purple is natural! 

The third course was Sakura chicken with more fresh Kamakura vegetables. The piece of pumpkin was my favorite. 

And finally dessert. Yogurt with cherry topping, pound cake with whipped cream and honey dew sorbet. All of it was delicious! 

Before leaving the hotel, I asked to have my picture with Junko-san and Haruko-san. They are so sweet. I enjoyed being able to spend quality time together visiting the temple and viewing the hydrangeas. The added bonus was them teaching me new Japanese phrases. 

Today’s Japanese phrases:

“Urikire” – sold out 

“Sandaru” – sandal

“Karasu” – crow 

“Oishī” – delicious 

Ever so slowly, my Japanese is improving. I must stress slowly. 

Dina’s Birthday 

Today is Dina’s birthday. To help celebrate the day, Dina, Katie, Andrea, and I decided to visit one of the few temples in Kamakura (Hase) we had not been to yet. Hasedera Temple is very famous for hydrangeas. The temple and surrounding gardens were beautiful. I enjoyed the visit so much that I’m going to add it to my Julia tour of Kamakura. Today, the Temple was especially crowded because it is the beginning of hydrangea season. Even though the hydrangeas weren’t quite in full bloom and despite the crowds, the Temple was beautiful and well worth this visit and many more. There was a steady stream of people on the street to visit the temple. 

The hydrangeas were beautiful. So many picture opportunities. 

There was a hydrangea route to follow to keep traffic moving in one direction. The route went past several potted hydrangeas and then up the hillside. 

The view from the first level was lovely and perfect for a group selfie. 

We continued to climb up more steps and the hydrangeas and views only got better! 

After reaching the top of the hill, the path went back down the hill. At one point, Dina and Andrea were above Katie and me. Perfect opportunity for another group selfie! 

A few close up hydrangea pictures. The different colors were so beautiful. 

There were also several kawaii statues. 

Another part of the Temple was a cave dedicated to the Goddess Benzaiten. There were many statues and it was definitely a cave. Check out the low ceilings. Dina and I had to walk like a duck to make it through! 

The oyster prayer cards were also interesting. According to the temple brochure, the statue appeared floating on the sea and drifting with the guidance of oysters attached to the statue. As a result, the shrine was established. 

After our visit at the temple, we went to lunch in Kamakura. To you, my friend! Cheers, to another good beer! Happy Birthday!! 

Where are you from? 

Walking around Kamakura today we encountered numerous groups of school children. We had two groups stop to ask us if they could ask us questions. In excellent English, they told us their names. Dina and I told them our names. We exchanged nice to meet you! The students then asked where we were from. They recorded our answers. The final question was to have a picture taken together. Of course! 

We continued our journey around Kamakura. I had Genjiyama Park and Kewaizaka Cutting Road on my list of things to see in Kamakura. Turns out, we have already been to both places! Haha

A couple pictures of the park – where you can see Mt. Fuji on a clear day! 

And the Kewaizaka Cutting Road with numerous school kids. 

The highlight and something new was the statue of Minamoto Yoritomo. Minamoto Yoritomo was the founder and the first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate of Japan. He ruled from 1192 until 1199. 

Lastly, have I mentioned the humidity lately? Today was off the charts muggy. It was fun to think of ways to describe the humidity. Here are a few Dave and I came up with running this morning. 

1. Sweaty Spaghetti 

2. Muggy-saurus Rex

3. Muggy McMug Face

4. Sweaty McSweat Face 

5. Sweat Fest 2017 

6. Sweat-asaurus Rex

If you’re thinking about a summer visit, prepare for humidity like no where else. It’s only May 25th and I needed three showers today! 

AWkitchen Garden 

One of our favorite restaurants, Farm To You, in Kamakura closed in March. Dina first took me there in November. I’m not officially sure but, I think it might have changed ownership and then the restaurant was given a new name. Regardless, it has reopened as AWkitchen Garden. Dina and I set out to indulge in a deliciously fresh lunch. We were not disappointed!

They are open daily according to the sign.

We arrived at 11:50 and had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. While we waited, we snapped a couple pictures of the Endoshima Line train and the gardens of the restaurant. Everyone LOVES the Endoshima Line train!

Once we were seated, we learned The lunch menu is only offered as a set. The set included: a salad, soup, and a choice of pizza or pasta. We both selected the Margherita pizza.

The table was set with two types of vinegar, strawberry, and kiwi. Also, two types of salt, balsamic dressing, lemon – rosemary water, and our glasses of wine.

First up, an amazingly fresh salad. This would be Dave’s favorite! It was so beautiful, I had to take a couple pictures from different angles.

The soup was a fresh onion gazpacho. It was fresh and oniony.

The Margherita pizza was very good. It was wood-fired with fresh basil, buffalo mozzarella, and a delicious tomato purée sauce.

The wood fired crust was my favorite. Dina snapped a picture of the oven for me. Notice the original FTY (Farm to You) logo.

This remains on my list of favorites in Kamakura. Mainly for the salad and the atmosphere. The pizza wins an honorable mention by U.S. pizza standards and a place winner in Japan. I’m not sure I would recommend we go when you visit. Mainly because I know the pizza will disappoint you. Unless you want an amazing salad after eating so much ramen! Or we need a vegetarian option.

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