Hi everyone! I'm returning with another Japan post, woohoo! They are actually drawing to a close, sob, as my re-living comes to the end of the trip. Towards the last few days, Martin and I had set aside a few 'free days' for exploring, which I highly recommend. I chose Kamakura as a nice cheap day to get a little further out again, and take in a little more history. I loved Hakone so much and I was desperate for a little more shrine action, and I wasn't disappointed.
We decided to get the cheaper subway train which was a little later to save some money (it being closer to the end of the holiday!) which was actually a bad decision. Kamakura was a fair distance from central Tokyo, and like Hakone, much more 'rural'. The shrines were working shrines and shut at, like, a reasonable time. We got there at around lunchtime and I did start to feel time (and all the shrines!) slipping away from me.
Kamakura is mainly one big 'shopping street' filled with a mixture of touristy stuff, food and tiny little shops. There were lots of Japanese tourists there also, and it was almost at the seaside, though we didn't venture that far. We found a studio Ghibli shop, and several shops selling beautiful kitchen and tableware. Painfully, I had thought this trip would be a cheap day full of free shrines, so you can imagine how much my heart breaks at the thought of all these beautiful bowls I couldn't buy. (That one below that says 220yen, that's around £1.50. You see how my heart bleeds.)
These pictures were from a beautiful shop located on a top floor, all old-school tatami mats and sliding doors. I just found it so beautiful that the lady running it was displaying her wares on the street whilst she was hidden away upstairs, without fear of people taking them. I wish I could have bought virtually everything, but I just settled on a teeny plate. My heart. It breaks.
At the end of the shopping street was Kamakura's 'main' shrine - the Hachimangu Shrine. It was huge and had so many beautiful sights, including a Koi pond and a wealth of different gates. We wandered around here for so long taking all of the pictures, and dodging the rain that left the stones of the bridge shimmering.
We spent a long time there, but soon enough Martin was trailing behind me in search of the next temple, the Engaku-ji Temple. This place was still a functioning temple and we saw a monk!! In fact, we saw several. This place was virtually all wooden and had so many ashy, blue-brown hues, contrasted by their incredible golden gate, donated from the shrine of a wife of the Shogun. This shrine was even further out and it was super peaceful and quiet. The atmosphere was so serene and there was so much left to explore, but there was one more place I was hoping to catch before it closed.
A semi-sprint later, I found the Meigetsu-in Temple, which I had read described as the Hydrangea temple. I knew we had to take advantage of the time of year in order to see them, so I paid my 500yen to get in, and had a brief but serene wander around, whilst Martin rested his feet outside. I just managed to get a few clicks of the beautiful stairs leading up to the temple, amongst the group of other sightsee-ers all snapping for the same picture, before the temple closed.
I was completely overwhelmed by Kamakura, in much the same way as Hakone. I just couldn't get over how different everything was. Whilst writing this post (and, ahem, checking the names of the temples) I re-discovered all the other amazing shrines and temples I didn't get to visit, and my Kamakura-longing is now refreshed. I desperately wanted to see the huge Buddha statue, so when I go back, that will be first on the list.
Let me know what you think of the pictures, and if you've been there too! If you liked this post check out the Japan tag I have going.