Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 13 - Part I – Hosted in Kamakura

Venturing outside Tokyo, south and a little east, to take in a slower, mellower, more traditional slice of Japan, we were met with the open arms of Keiko-san, the grandmother of two of Tavin’s school and karate friends.  She lives in Kamakura, and had gotten us a room at a rather traditional and ancient Ryokan – an inn with tatami mat floors, hot springs for bathing, and food like nowhere else on earth.
            Tavin made his first real splash when we stopped for lunch, and he pointed at the kamaboko-udon (noodle soup with fish cake) and asked for it specifically for lunch.  No hunting for McDonalds, he wanted the local fare.  Good kiddo.  

We got a tour of the seaside towns, some of the local sights and temples – seeing the largest cast bronze Buddha in Japan

and his sandals
 The Amida-Bhudda Daibatsu is rather amazing – and much loved.  His history and statistics say what the pictures cannot.

He’s hollow, so we even got to go inside, and see things from the Bhudda’s point of view.  He used to have a temple, but that was washed away in a storm, so he sits there, calmly, in all weathers.
            Even though it was still winter, it was lovely and sunny. 

We got so warm we had to take our coats off, and got to watch people getting dive-bombed by the kites.  (Nope the signs were not just there for decoration.)

            After strolling through the beautiful temples of Kamakura, soaking up the sun, the calm, and the comfort of being shown about by a lovely and attentive host, we hopped on a bus (Yay SUICA cards!) and rode up and down hills, through convoluted, impressively precarious neighborhoods, around a curve of land where we could see Enoshima, and its island. 
            We made it onto the island.  A bustling shopping street opened off the end of the causeway that links the island to the mainland. 

The shopping street climbed the rocky hill that is the center of the island.  Along that shopping street was one of those discreet walkways that looks like there is something good back there, but unless you know your are supposed to go there, there is no reason to walk up it.
I still can't believe this was our destination!
            This was the Ryokan we were staying at.  Getting to walk up one of these exclusive roadways was just about the *least* exciting thing about it.  We took our giant European selves inside.  Keiko-san got us checked in, and we were finally able to attempt to thank her for our warm welcome, wonderful tour, and the amazing arrangements she had made for us.  Soon, those arrangements were to prove even more unbelievable!
            We were shown around the hotel – where the dining room was (for breakfast – dinner would be in our room), where the onsen was, and what the hours were.  Then we got to see our room, and it was everything all my grade school adventure books had lead me to expect.  Sliding doors, almost too short for me,

(Tavin had his own version - he could reach the lintel)

 tatami mat floors, folded beds from the closet and special slippers for the toilet.

            We tried on our kimono – these were just the relaxing, bathrobe types.  Tavin fit into a small women’s robe, 

and I needed a men’s kimono.  
Ah well, we had fun fitting our giant European selves into this world sized for a different average size. 

 There was also a glassed in viewing deck.  And that is where I found the part
 I couldn’t have managed if I’d spent months on the task…   
As we were relaxing in our robes – we got to see a sunset over Mt. Fuji. 

           Well, after that, we needed to go relax in an underground hot spring.

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