A visit to Kamakura

A rainy day with a beautiful sunset.

The second part of our two day trip was a visit to Kamakura. After spending the first day in Yokohama, we traveled to Kamakura on Saturday evening. Kamakura is also located near the sea and from our hostel it was only a 10 minute walk to the ocean. The first part of our trip (until 2/3 pm) was accompanied by a lot of rain and thus we walked around with umbrellas, again.

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Entrance of the Jomyoji temple

Jomyoji temple

Our first stop of the day was a visit to the Jomyoji temple. This temple is located on the North-East side of Kamakura. High hills can be found around the temple and it even has its own tea house with a small ‘dry garden’. Dry gardens can also be called Japanese rock gardens. This peaceful looking garden was surrounded by green bushes and other plants.

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Garden of the tea house

Flower ceremony

During our visit to the Jomyoji temple they told us that there would be a special ceremony and that we could join the ceremony is we wanted to. This is a once-in-a-year event, so we were very lucky that we were able to attend this ritual. The flower ceremony is held to thank the flowers for being cut and thus for being able to use the flowers as ‘decoration’.

The ceremony itself was held inside the temple because of the rain that was falling down the sky. Different kinds of flowers in diverse pots were decorating the floor near the walls of the temple. In the center of the temple was a smaller ring of benches where the spectators could sit. The head monk prayed inside of this smaller square.

There were three more monks guiding the ritual with their voices. They sang about the flowers in Japanese, so it was not possible for me to understand what they were saying. But nonetheless, it sounded very special.

After the main part of the ceremony you could do a little prayer by yourself to thank the flowers. This was done by picking up a small amount of herbs and gently letting go of these herbs above a very very tiny fire. The smoke of the burned incense slowly drifted away after each prayer.

Bamboo grove

After the flower ceremony we went to the Hokokuji temple. Around this temple you can find a cute little bamboo forest. Well, it’s not really a forest, because there are just a couple of bamboo stalks. I visited Kyoto last year and there you can find a real bamboo forest! Even though this bamboo grove is not that big, it can still be a nice addition to a day trip to Kamakura.

The most important shrine

From the bamboo grove we took a bus to the Hachimangu Shrine. This is Kamakura’s most important Shinto shrine. The shrine itself is dedicated to Hachiman, the god of the samurai. During our visit to this shrine it was still raining and thus you could see the umbrella culture of Japan all over again.

There were a lot of people walking around and enjoying the shrine. It was also quite funny to see a Fiat stand in between the entrance of park and the main temple: what is a Fiat stand doing there?

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Hachimangu Shrine

Zen temple

The last temple we visited in Kamakura was the Kenchoji temple. The is the most important Zen temple of Kamakura. The area of Kenchoji is large and thus you can see different kinds of smaller temples and shrines as well. You can enter the  complex through the main gate (Sanmon). Immediately after you enter you’ll see the temple bell on your right side. This bell is called Bonsho.

Inside of the complex you will be able to find different temple halls. There is also a Zen Garden and a meditation room where a meditation session was held when we visited the temple.

Great Buddha

Next up was the big Buddha statue (Kamakura Daibutsu). This statue is located on the west side of Kamakura on the grounds of the Kotokuin Temple. The statue, made out of bronze, portrays Amida Buddha. Originally the statue was located inside a large temple hall, but because of several typhoons and tidal waves the temple buildings were destroyed. Now the Buddha can be seen outside.

It is also possible to view the Buddha itself from the inside. It has got two windows on its back as well. From the outside these look a little bit like small wings. The statue itself is very impressive, but there were a lot of tourists around. This made it a little bit harder just to see the Buddha and to get some (nice) pictures.

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Great Buddha

Sunset at the sea

And last but definitely not least we were able to witness an absolutely stunning sunset near Enoshima. Initally we were just looking for a restaurant to have dinner and to might see something of the sunset. But when we went looking for a restaurant we spotted a viewpoint. From this viewpoint you could see Enoshima, the sea and the coastline. It was just marvellous.

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Sunset

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Sunset

And while we were watching this beautiful sunset, we were accompanied by a flock of birds. And not just any regular birds, but birds of prey! They were swarming around the coastline and enjoying the wind, the sun and the cookie that one of my friends was eating. One of the birds just flew down and before my friend could even notice what happened, the bird stole his cookie.

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Birds of prey

 

Visited on the 9th of October 2016
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