Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Kamakura (Page 2 of 5)

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!

Ikebana – New Year

Ikebana International January Event was held on Saturday 1/20/18. Dave and I were fortunate to be able to attend. It was held at The Great Buddha of Kamakura- Mrs. Sato’s residence. The gardens and flower arrangements were beautiful even in winter.

The event included a Taiko drum performance, mochi pounding, and sake tasting. The Taiko drum club is a group from Zushi High School. I took a picture of the information from the itinerary.

They were incredible. They had a total of five performances. I took a short video of each one for your pleasure. Please take time to enjoy. Their performances are amazing. They do not use a conductor during their performance. The first one I filmed from our seats.

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After the first performance, Dave showed me a much better vantage point to capture video and pictures.

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The third performance.

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The fourth performance.

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The final performance included eight members each taking a turn on the large drum. We learned the large drum cost the same amount as a Toyota Prius. The strength they use to beat the drum is incredible. Notice, there is at least one person holding the drum during the performance. I filmed several, this one was one of my favorites. Please remember, these are high schoolers!!!

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After the Taiko drum performance, we observe mochi pounding. The Mochi pounding was an orchestrated dance! Fresh mochi is delicious!

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Before lunch, we posed for a few pictures in the garden. Me with Dave and Miki.

For lunch we enjoyed a gourmet bento box.

It was a delightful afternoon. Probably for everyone’s sake, I put my phone down before we started tasting sake. Happy New Year! Kanpie!

Hike and Lunch

The original forecast for today was sunny with a high close to 60 degrees. Unfortunately, it was cloudy most of the day and barely got to 50. I am definitely not complaining. Especially, as I continue to hear about the cold temperatures and snow storms back in the U.S.

So, despite the chillier conditions than we anticipated, Amanda and I set off to hike the Kuzuharaoka-Daibutsu Hiking course.

Before starting the hike, we made a quick stop at the Jochi-ji Temple. One of my favorites. What isn’t to love about Hotei – the God of Happiness!?!

Besides the God of Happiness, the daffodils were starting to bloom.

Without further delay, we were on our way along the trail.

At one intersection along the trail, I saw a sign for a restaurant I have been wanting to try. I’ve heard great things about the food at Cafe Terrace. Plus, on a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji.

The sign literally seemed like a sign for us to stop and enjoy lunch. We ordered first and then sat down at the cute outdoor cafe tables.

While we were waiting for our order, the sun started to come out. It was lovely.

The server brought our food and an information card about the restaurant. I was relieved to see hikers were welcome. I was worried we might be under dressed.

We both ordered the mac and cheese with side salad. It was delicious, warmed us up, and fueled us for the rest of the hike.

I definitely want to return to Cafe Terrace. I want to return on a sunny and clear day and sip a glass of wine while watching Mt. Fuji.

After our meal, we finished our hike and made our way home. The rain from yesterday made the trail a bit muddy and slippery. Fortunately, we made it through without consequence.

Motivation – Sole Adventures

One of my favorite quotes about running is:

I find this even more true when I’m running solo. I much prefer to know my running partner is going to be on the corner waiting for me and so, I best get to stepping.

The past couple days, the temperatures haven’t been too unbearable. However, the wind has been miserable. It makes taking that step out the door really tough. This morning as I listened to the wind blowing outside the kitchen sliding door, I was truly longing for one of my running partners to be waiting. Hmmm. I decided to make a new game with a favorite mountain of mine. I decided to meet my friend on Zushi Beach. Mt. Fuji-San!

The waves show how windy it was today. On a normal day, there are hardly any waves! It was so windy and chilly, we both were covered. Mt. Fuji-San with a snow cap and me with my running hat, breathable running turtleneck and hoodie. I’m like the pink ninja running through the streets of Zushi!

My new running friend trick worked. I endured the the cold and wind and completed my five mile loop.

My reward was a huge plate of pancakes! Amanda and I went to Happy Pancake for breakfast. It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since Dina and I first went eat at Happy Pancake. Why have I not been back until now!?! This time, I opted for an omelet and the whole wheat pancakes vice the traditional “happy pancakes”. The salad was a nice healthy touch.

Amanda had the whole wheat pancakes and eggs as well. We both agreed, the traditional ones are better. Now we know what to order next time!

To all my running partners, I hope you felt a little warmth in your heart today. I thought about my favorite runs with each of you as I stepped it out. Run Happy!

Hike & Lunch

Amanda and I went to Kamakura to hike the Red Leaf Trail. It was a crisp cool winter day. Perfect day for a hike and for viewing Mt. Fuji along the way.

Most of the leaves have turned and fallen already. There was one Japanese Maple along the trail still holding onto its leaves. It was beautiful in the sunshine.

A few more pictures from my favorite parts along the trail.

After our hike, we stopped at a cute little restaurant in Kamakura called Magnetico. As advertised, they had several craft brews and delicious food.

I ordered the taco rice bowl. The taco seasoning was a little different. It was more on the sweet side. Almost like a curry flavor.

I thought it was delicious. Amanda ordered the taco plate. She gave her dish a thumbs up as well. The other highlight of the restaurant was the art. I loved the Beer God with hops.

After lunch, we worked our way back home via the trains. I would definitely recommend this restaurant and add it to my list of places to take Dave. It was a nice hidden gem.

Kakuonji Temple

It is starting to feel like winter in Japan. The thermometer we pass on the way to main base was 0 degree Celsius yesterday and this morning was -1 degree Celsius! Despite the chilly temperatures, I actually enjoy winter in the part of Japan where we live because it is much drier and so sunny! This picture is proof the abundance of sunshine. The reflection on the stop sign is blinding as I tried to capture the Japanese Maple!

Although I miss the excitement of a snow storm approaching, I don’t miss the grey sky gloom of the Midwest. Today was a crisp and perfect for a little exploring. Miki wanted to take me to her favorite Temple. Kakuonji Temple is located in Kamakura. A little off the beaten path and very close to the Red Leaf Trail.

Miki has visited this temple several times with Ikebana International. On those visits, a private tour in English was provided. During normal business hours, tours are offered hourly and only in Japanese. We arrived around 1330 and were asked to wait until 1400. As we waited, I snapped a few pictures of the remaining leaves.

Miki and I walked over to look at the prayer bell because it had a dedication in English. As I was snapping a picture, the head priest of the temple began speaking (in Japanese) with Miki. Their conversation resulted in him providing us with a private tour (in English) of the main temple and gardens.

Beyond the gate, the gardens of the temple are beautiful and serene. The original temple was destroyed and rebuilt. The temple contains Buddha, two other gods (sun and moon) and 12 warriors each representing the zodiac. Each of the warriors were looking in different directions and very life-like. Hand painted on the ceiling was a dragon. In Japanese culture, the dragon comes from the water and therefore by painting it on the ceiling it protects the temple from fire. Photography wasn’t permitted in the temple. You will have to visit to see the beauty of the temple for yourself!!

After the temple, we walked to the house where the warriors used to live. On our way, we passed this interesting plant. I stopped our guide and asked what it was. He replied, “Buddha’s hands.” I asked permission to photograph and touch. Yes, to both – it feels like an orange rind. We were informed it is not a good fruit to eat. Later, Miki and I came up with what it reminded us of – alien fingers, witch fingers, or the Grinch!

After asking for that photograph, I felt a little more bold. I asked if I could photograph the gardens. Hai! In the background is the main temple.

I also learned a few more interesting facts. The statues pictured are Jizo Bosatsu. They are Gods of the Earth. The can often be seen near farms as a prayer for a good harvest. Also, they are used as prayers for children. To give a family strong and healthy children. The red hat and bib are placed to statues for purification. Another interesting fact, the vermilion color of the Torii and bridges is also for purification. When a person walks through the Torii or over the bridge, they are purified. Next time I’m in VB, I want a ride in Roxanne’s vermilion MG – for purification, of course!

As we were walking out, the priest pointed out a very tall evergreen tree to us. He couldn’t remember “evergreen” and instead said “Christmas tree Momma.” Ha! I helped him with evergreen and he said yes, tallest in Kamakura. Pardon the power lines, they couldn’t be avoided! Consider it a little wabi-sabi.

Miki and I were very lucky and appreciative of our private tour of the Temple. It truly was an honor. Arigatōgozaimas!

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.

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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! 

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