Friday, November 19, 2010

Trip to Kamakura Japan.

Just recovered from Japan trip. Yen is so strong now that so it kinda took the fun off from shopping but what the hell, still bought some stuff that I didnt see in HK ( or cross fingers that I wont see it as I roam the streets of HK!)

Had a short day trip to Kamakura and it was a nice visit to the local shrines and because it was the Shichi Go San festival, a lot of little kids of 3, 5, 7 were dressed in their finest kimono running about with their parents. It was a nice visual treat as the little dolled up gals were really cute and they def relished in being the attention of the adults exclaiming their cuteness:) Proud parents esp dadddies were seen smiling and nodding thanks to compliments and taking photos of their precious:) On my last day in Tokyo, I worked up the courage to intrude on their private family time to approach the grandma and asked to take a picture with her grand daughter. She obliged happily and the little girl was prob wondering what the hell is this looming sleepy eye half awake foreigner wants from her!

Kamakura itself is a pretty litle town. It was established by a famous Genji warrior Yorimoto Minamoto the first Shogun in 1192 and here was his capital.  Unfortunately or fortunately, there were some APEC  people visiting the small town on the same day so traffic was massive nightmare with stalls and jams as the security were heighten and stopped public cars passing through at some point. In the temple, just after I entered the shrine, the rest of public who came later were stopped from entering for good 3 hours and so we few isolated fews were wandering inside with some APEC groups escorted by at least 2 dozens of MAN IN BLACK with ear pieces, ready to shoot on sight kinda demeanour.

In a way it was good because it wasnt as crowded but bad because they cornered some shrines off for their private viewing. A little miffed since I was wondering why are APEC delegates visiting and sight seeing if they should be here on business. And if its not the key people, then why are they getting such VIP treatment depriving the rest of tourist who made only be here once in their lifetime. These people really shouldnt get extra privileges unless its off opening hours...well, that's the thing with "power and status". All democracy and equality are bullshit. It sounds nice but hell hard to practice.

Anycase, arriving at Kita-kamakura station, our first stop was Engakuji Temple before we headed off to Kenchoji temple. The former was once ranked 2nd amongst the great 5 Zen temples and city's most cel;ebrated temple. The various buildings are arranged in a straight line with lovely old cedar tress to line the area. Kenchoji Temple on the other hand, is the first and greatest temple here. Things to see is the wooden statue of Hojo, the chap who renounced power to become monk.

I had wanted to take this because my partne and I made a private joke about the stance. She looked almost as if she was pondering "What should I do with all these money...." :)

 At Kenchoji Temple, this section is usually closed off but there was a sign that stated it was special viewing for this period. Not sure if it was due to the APEC people. Regardless the reason, it was a beautiful dragon ceiling.

In the same temple, there is a hiking trail that leads to Zuisenji - the temple of flowers. The zen gardens is defined by camelias and roses. It was a beautiful day to walk up the steps but we didnt expect it to be sooo warm and hot that we were kinda overdressed and its not fun walking up with sweat streaming down your back....and sun shining on u.....On a good clear day, you will be able to see Fuji-san from up the top but it was a bad visibility day for us, so no luck.

 Due to time constraint and bad traffic, we decided to skip a few other temples and instead of walking 30mins to Kamakura station, I decided to hop onto the bus instead which zoomed straight to the station and ply past the city town - komachi Dori Ave a shopping street. We swopped to the local train at Kamakura station to the local Enoden tramway to Hase station. Off to visit the big Buddha and Hase temple. The train was jam pack with people of all nationalities. Damn it was hot!

The Daibutsu (Great Buddha) is just maybe 5 -10 mins further up ahead of Hase temple. Situated within the Kotukuin Temple, this bronze statue (11.3m) towers in the middle, with 2 windows opening up at its back for people who bothered to Q to the get the kick of limited view out of the Buddha. If u are not interested in this, then honestly, dont bother to pay to come here. There is nothing here to see...

 Hase temple was more interesting.  It dates back to year 736. There are the 11 headed gilt statue of the Kannon (goddess of mercy) and carved in 721, is the tallest wooden figure left in Japan. No pictures are allowed so u wont see it here. Along the way, you can only get a view of the Yuigahama beach, which honestly looks more dirty than spectacular. I have heard someone said to me before that there are no clean beaches in Japan, I havent seen it close up so I cannot validate the claim but as far from I see, it isnt inviting...

 Distant view of the beach.

A crysanthium flower fair. The flowers were huge!

 A corner to pray and pay respect for the deceased.

Just round the corner there is a small low cave. We popped in to see more statues and little dens filled with small wooden figurines where people write on the back to pray for something...

I saw this 3 fellows along my stroll and they are sooo cute. almost begging u to leave some coins with them:)

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