Falling in Love with Kamakura02 April 2015
Have you ever traveled to a place and had that feeling? Where things just click? Where you look at homes or watch people walking down the street and just think "I could live this life."
That's the feeling I got while spending a day walking around Kamakura, Japan.
This city, an ancient capitol of Japan and just 40 minutes south of the present day capitol of Tokyo, is quite small but packed with plenty to see.
Sasuke Inari Shrine
A motif found at many Shinto (traditional Japanese religion) shrines is that of the fox god, Inari. This tiny, moss-covered shrine is spotted with porcelain fox statuettes as offerings to the god.
Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine
This hard to pronounce shrine is small but unique in many ways. Founded over 900 years ago, various parts of the shrine were built within caves where natural springs poured out. It is believed that washing your money here will cause it to multiply. I washed some yen (equivalent of a US penny) here and I did end up with a shit-ton of these things at the end of my trip so I guess it worked?
This Buddhist temple is most known for its bronze daibutsu or giant Buddha which is over 800 years old. This is definitely one of the more popular temples in Kamakura as it was covered with school groups and tourists alike.
The town on its own is absolutely adorable. Tiny houses covered in flowers and a little train passing through it makes for a charming, Miyazaki-esque atmosphere. I could absolutely have spent the afternoon just enjoying the cafes and boutiques
This temple is dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy and compassion. There was a beautiful wooden statue of her at this temple but, out of respect, no pictures were allowed. The grounds of this temple were quite expansive and included lots of tiny, happy Buddha statues. There's also a great vantage point here that allows one to look out over the town and ocean.
This is by far the largest and most important temple in Kamakura. In its thousand years of history it's flip-flopped between being Buddhist or Shinto but now is considered to be a fusion of both. This is where many locals come to pray and I saw quite a few families bringing their children for shichi go san. I was most excited to see the miko (Shrine maidens) bustling about in their traditional red and white robes.
The closer I got to the beach, the less I felt like I was in Japan. The cafes were now surf shops and I couldn't help but feel like I was in Hawaii. Besides the lack of palm trees, another difference from Hawaii was the fact that this beach was covered in shells! I got so excited and started collecting pockets full of shells, sea glass, and porcelain shards. Other people were doing it too so I'm not completely weird!