“all the other kids”

Date: 12/26/11

Location: Yokohama

A hop, skip, and jump away from Tokyo is the sea-side town of Kamakura. Or so the guidebooks say. If you take the Odakyu line, you will be on trains for an hour and a half if not more. But if you brave the four or five very confusing train transfers, the reward is worth it, I think.

Kamakura is a super-laid-back town. It’s an ocean city and even during the winter exudes that vibe. There’s surf-shops aplenty and the pace is definitely slower, especially when compared with frenetic Tokyo to the north. Even the great bronze Buddha, or 大仏 that makes the town famous just sits there, chillin’.

On our train over to see the Buddha at Hase, two stops from Kamakura station, there’s a nice view of the ocean and we could see people windsurfing out on the horizon. More on the beach later, though.

I want to say that this seated bronze Buddha is the second largest in Japan, the largest being the one at Todaiji in Nara, which I have yet to see. This one is out in the open, though, as opposed to Nara’s which has a roof over its head. From pictures though, I really like the Kamakura one better. It’s surrounded by mountains and open to the sky and you can enter him.

What? Oh, sorry, yeah, for 20 yen you can open a door on the side of his butt and enter the Great Buddha. You can see all his insides and what not which is pretty cool

It wasn’t as spiffy as the rice paddle I got as a souvenir, though. Now I can scoop up my rice with a Kamakura Daibutsu wooden spoon because I believe in utility.

Not that I didn’t have a lot of time to shop. Strewn about Kamakura and its environs are dozens of little privately owned exceedingly cute stores selling all the traditional things like pottery and cloth. I settled for a nice 風呂敷 [furoshiki] – (n.) cloth used to wrap things in for portability–so I can carry my bento box next semester. Excitement. Julia said Kamakura reminded her of Howl’s Moving Castle what with the sea-side setting.

Now I’m not saying Kamakura is Miami Beach or anything, in all honesty, the beach is a little dirty and barren, but it’s the ocean, and being from SoFla, it reminded me and Julia of home just a little bit. The smell of the ocean was still there at least, even if we were wearing jackets.

In the city of Kamakura itself there is the Tsurugaoka hachimangu with slightly more up-scale shops lining the street up to a grand staircase and the temple itself, but you’ve seen enough of those in my Kansai posts I’m sure.

After that, it was off to Enoshima Island to see the illuminations there. Enoshima is connected to the mainland by a pedestrian-friendly bridge built on a narrow raised strip of land. It has a very nice mountain temple on it, but it was really dark and probably closed so we decided to just head straight for SEA CANDLE aka a large lighthouse attached to the Samuel Cocking Garden. I… I just don’t even know with you, Japan.

Anyway, the Sea Candle was very nice and ambient. The soft lights played well on the plants and I really wish I could have seen the gardens during the day. They seemed really nice.

And there was a good amount of me being stupid with my camera. Forgive me while I get all the stereotypical art-student out of me. [I’ll be exhibiting a series of photographs of my left index finger next. Thank you, thank you.]

Anyway, afterwards, Julia and I were supposed to meet up with some of the other UF people in Shinjuku but we were unsure of how to undergo the 90 minute trek without being late. So we cheated time and found a train that only stopped at three stations. We got on the train and noticed it was way fancier than any other train we’ve been on. That’s because the train was the “Limited Express Romance Car.” [whoa.] Then we heard some yelling and a scuffle behind us. A man had gotten kicked off the train because he didn’t have a reservation. And then we got worried because we definitely didn’t have one either. So we laid low, trying not to look suspicious and decided that if we were accosted by an attendant or something, we would do the tourist thing and pretend we don’t speak Japanese. We almost got to Shinjuku too, before we were asked for our reservations. There was a flurry of “Chiketto? Chiketto?” and “I’m sorry, what? Excuse me?” before the man gave up and said okay to our regular train passes. 外人smash success!

Upon arrival in Shinjuku we saw a different sort of illumination–the neon signs that lit up Kabukicho. We met up with the UF kids and Ryan [another one] who was visiting from Florida. We wandered about the district looking for a place to drink before we settled on Hubs, a western style bar. The prices were commensurate ;_; But yeah, I had a Cuba Libre and combined with the smell of the place it reminded me of bar-hopping and clubbing in Seville. Oh, the memories. Nice place, I might end up there for New Year depending on what people want to do.


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