Day 2 - Kamakura temples

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It was 26 years ago that Lawrence and I first visited the Kamakura temple region of Japan.  Lawrence had been working on the Yorkshire TV series ‘Yellowthread Street’ in Hong Kong in spring 1989, and we had booked a 3-week tour of China as a holiday when he finished work. It was now early June 1989 and all travel into China was banned due to the ‘student uprising’.  So, instead we spent a little longer in Hong Kong and two weeks in Japan when our love affair with the country started.

When I visited my friend in Yokohama in February 2015, I was keen to re-visit this region (Japan - Feb 2015).  So now was the time for Lawrence to see this place again.  Visiting the Kamakura region is a great day trip from Yokohama by train.

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But first you must take the coastal train and stop off at Shichigahama for the view and brunch at Bills.  If you look at all of this collection of photos, you may notice a recurring theme concerning Mt. Fuji.  In Feb. 2015, we were delighted to get a perfect view of snow-capped Mt. Fuji from Shichigahama beach.  Mt. Fuji is a magestic mountain and you cannot but feel happy and lucky when you see it.  So, today we were a little disappointed with it being barely visible on the far right of the photo below.  Can you see it?

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Heres a zoomed-in shot of Mt. Fuji peaking out above the clouds.

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Most people come to this beach not for Mt. Fuji but for the surfing and general seaside activities. On this sunny Sunday afternoon in autumn, the sun was low in the sky and the sea was filled with surfers and yachts.

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Next, off to Kamakura and the Big Buddha.  Just a few photos here as youve seen this before (Japan - Feb 2015).

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After enjoying the calm face of this Big Buddha, we visited the Hasedera Temple whose more glamorous golden buddhas often appear to snear at you!  Still, we asked “the oracle by KANNON” what our future would be.  

Lawrence picked the No. 12 Daikichi (excellent fortune) which read:

When a willow feels the advent of spring,

It burgeons forth buds and blossoms from withered branches.

However it is in the thickly snow and frost,

The brilliance of gold shines ever more brightly.

As for me, I picked the No. 6 Suekichi (coming good fortune) which read:

Even home and grave are haunted by many ghosts,

Truth and lies are mixed in your relationship.

Guard your fortune from suffering loss,

Problems are solved if praying from the bottom of your heart.

Last time I visited this temple, it was to enjoy the variety of trees in blossom.  This time our walk around the temple complex was accompanied by an excellent school wind band!  We could not tell what the event was, but there were many visitors on this Sunday afternoon and plenty of food stalls and knick-knack stalls to look at.

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In some temples/gardens in Japan, you can get free entrance fees if wearing traditional Japanese costumes. However, it is not always easy to tell who has been to a special kimono shop for the day, or who are regular wearers of these outfits.  Being the autumn season, you are not supposed to wear autumn motifs in your outfit, so clearly these two charming ladies knew what they were doing.

We left the main temples here and stopped along the main road to sample some ice cream (too much choice here!) and then took the train to Kamakura to rest a while in a cafe drinking Vietnamese coffee.  The main strip in Kamakura has many shops of interest, but my focus today was to get to the Sugi Bee Garden shop to buy my favourite yuzu and honey drink (  

Then it was time to get the train back to Yokohama and prepare for our driving adventure!  To make navigating easier, we needed a digital chip for an iPad, but no-one in the mobile phone shop spoke enough English to help. So, they rang around their other shops to find an English speaker who then had a conversation with us over the phone and gave us instructions on what to do.  I mention this here because I imagine some of you might be scarred to visit Japan because of perceived language difficulties.  Dont be scared!  Everyone is extremely helpful because if you look lost or in need of help, someone will turn up to help you. And restaurants often have window displays for you to point at and/or menus with photos, so take your pick and enjoy.  You will soon get used to ordering food from a vending machine as a last resort.  And, for travellers, you will never have to worry about the cleanliness of Japanese toilets!  Indeed, you will wonder why your home country cannot do the same.  Just remember to smile, be patient, and you will be rewarded with a wonderful experience in a fascinating country.

© Helen Gray 2021