Get Down!

Jaz got to choose where we met up this time around. Enter Kamakura and Enoshima, a little bit south of Tokyo.

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I had actually been to Kamakura twice before for a bizarre poetry party on the invitation of someone from that TV show what I went on. However, both times I had completely failed to see its main attractions, so it was a joy to finally be offered a chance.JNGR1391

The first was Tsurugaoka Hachimangū, a massive shrine complex that’s the centre of Kamakura itself. The latter is especially obvious when one reaches the road — it is very long and very straight, aligning with all the main gates all the way up to the main hall at the top of a number of steps and plazas.

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The second, and arguably more famous, thing is the daibutsu (‘Great Buddha’) in Taiizan Kotokuin Shojosenji Temple. This massive statue of Amida Buddha isn’t nearly as tall as Sendai’s offering, but gets away with it by being built in the 13th Century. It’s a 13m-tall chunk of bronze panels that has survived countless storms and natural disasters with only a few repairs needed on the base and foundations. Just like Sendai Daikannon, you can go inside for the princely sum of ¥20, though I’ll admit the effect is rather different.

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Day Two saw us explore closer to home: Enoshima. It’s a small island, dedicated in its entirety to the goddess of music and entertainment, Benzaiten. This means it’s home to an enormous shrine that covers a great deal of the mainland-facing part of the island.

It’s also home to hawks. Lots and lots of hawks. So many hawks it was like someone had switched out all the seagulls. So many that one of them snatched a curry-pan out of my hand as I was raising it to my mouth. Bizarre.

The Meiji government of the late 19th Century was, it’s fair to say, not a massive fan of Buddhism. Because of this, a large portion of the centre of the island, which had previously held a temple, was sold to (via his Japanese wife) to enterprising British merchant Samuel Cocking, who set about turning it into a garden. He probably didn’t plan the enormous Enoshima Sea Candle that stands in the middle of the gardens.

JNGR1564The weather wasn’t great for Sunday, but as we stood at the top we were able to watch Mt. Fuji come into view. Despite having flown over, ridden a train past and driven by it, this was my first definite view of the mountain. Well done us.

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