Hein (fub) wrote,

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Rain in Kamakura

Today we went to Kamakura. It took me quite a bit of time to make heads or tails of the train schedule that I got through the online JR train planner -- there are multiple lines that run to Kamakura. In the end, I decided on the Shonan-Shinjuku line, with a change at Ofuna. Which meant we had to go to Shibuya station by subway and change there to the JR line. Which turned out to be a bit of a daunting task: there was no direct route from the subway station to the train station, and the helpful maps weren't that helpful. Also, finding the right line took a bit of trouble as well because it was one color on the train map and another color on the actual signs! And there were more than one line running from the same track, so it took us some careful study of the signs to determine that yes, the next train would be the right one.

It seems that when the Japanese sleep on a train, they generate a field that temporarily suspends the laws of physics with respect to their joints. We've seen people sleeping on the train in positions that would trouble the most seasoned contortionist, and it doesn't seem to be uncomfortable to them at all. One kid was sleeping on her mother's lap, almost folded double backwards. She slept the whole time to Kita-Kamakura.

We took a bit of time to orient ourselves with respect to the map of the walking tour we had, and the conductor handed us a pamphlet detailing "the well-known truck" -- a walking route from Kita-Kamakura to Kamakura station, which winded down the mountain, making regular stops at the five Zen-temples (and some other "general" Buddhist temples and a single shrine). It seemed like the thing to do, so we just settled in for that one. And I'm glad we did: there was much to see!
Unfortunately, when we were visiting the second temple (we were taking things at a leisurely pace), it started to rain. We didn't bring our raincoats... We cut our visit short (the gardens were lovely, but the rain severely diminished our pleasure) and we went back to the entrance to ask for a place where we would be able to buy an umbrella. Which resulted in the two ladies who manned the entry gifting us with two of the umbrellas they had in stock, seemingly for just those occasions. Just then we discovered that we had completely forgot to pack the small present packages in our bags, so all we could do was thank the ladies profusely before setting off again.
It didn't stop raining all day. That hampered our enjoyment of the beautiful things we saw, and it also severely interfered with klik's picture taking. In the end, we decided to cut our visit short, and just walk on towards Kamakura station to get back to Tokyo for a warm shower and dry clothes.

The pace was much lower today than yesterday, and that suited us fine. We had regular stops, such as at the tea-house near the temple bell (up a long flight of steps -- shrewd location for a tea shop!) at the Engakuji temple. We had chilled green tea and red bean paste with jelly and fruits, which was delicious and refreshing. And on the way back from Meigetsuin temple, we stopped at a really tiny tea-and-cake shop where they served us 'tea ceremony tea' (just the tea, without the ceremony) and steamed cake that was styled to resemble a tiny rabbit. The atmosphere there was great: calm and serene, but very relaxed. The display stand outside showed tiny ceramic rabbits having a tea ceremony -- I think the proprietor made them himself, because there were rabbit statuettes on sale inside as well.
It was still early when we arrived at Kamakura, so we didn't look for the tempura shop anemoona mentioned in her reply yesterday, we went straight for the train station. When we got back to our subway station (Akasaka, on the Chiyoda line) we spotted a sign stating "yakitori", so after we freshed up at the hotel we went there for dinner. Lots of beer, lots of delicious stuff on skewers...

Memorable scenes of today:
- The kid sleeping bended backwards on her mother's lap;
- The various groups of kids on a school trip to the temples. Most of them greeted us and wished us a pleasant day. One group asked me to take their picture (we understood enough Japanese for that), another group asked us for our autograph for a school project (apparently they had to talk to gaijin to practice their English). We gave everyone from that group our stamp;
- The Japanese lady who sat opposite of us on the train back, who couldn't stop herself from staring at us. This annoyed her, so she went to sit on the next couch over when the opportunity presented itself. And still she stared at us from time to time;
- Getting an umbrella for free at a temple;
- We went downstairs for dinner, because the "yakitori"-sign was positioned close to the stairs leading down. The guy at the counter asked: "Do you want to eat yakitori?" and when we replied that we did, he directed us to upstairs. The rest of the sign was in Japanese, so he (correctly) deduced that the gaijin wanted what they could read.

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