thoughts from places


Trip to Kamakura

I went to Kamakura [Map] at the weekend. Lots of temples and nice scenery. Exactly the contrast from Tokyo I was looking for.

I went down by train on Sunday morning with Yiwen to meet up with my friend Masa who had invited me to try out Zazen meditation. We met at Engakuji temple, which is right beside Kitakamakura station, just before 10am. We then went into one of the buildings there and sat down on the floor. We listened for about 20mins to what I can only imagine was some kind of Buddist service in Japanese. After that we got ready to try some meditation. Everyone got a mat to sit on, Masa taught me the correct position to sit in and how to hold my hands. Then the monk leading the meditation clapped two pieces of wood together and the meditation began.

Engakuji

Engakuji Buddist temple

There was about 100 people there and everyone was sat quietly. While you're meditating you can ask the monk to hit you on the back with a stick. I saw quite a few people doing this so I thought I would try it. The way you ask to be hit is by bowing to the monk as he walks past. He will then bow to you, then you lean forward. At which point he first rests a big wooden stick on one of your shoulders before hitting you twice quite hard on the back. Then he hits you twice again behind the other shoulder. After this you both bow to each other and then he walks off to go and hit somebody else.

The meditation lasts 20 minutes. After that I said goodbye to my friend Masa and walked around taking pictures.

Yiwen and I then took the train one stop south to Kamakura to get some lunch. We had eggplant (aubergine is the British name) with rice and chyahan at a Chinese restaurant.

After lunch we went to a bamboo forest at Hokokuji temple which is about 20 minutes walk away.

Take forest

Bamboo forest at Hokokuji temple

The bamboo forest is pretty cool but you don't need long to see everything. We left after about 10/15mins and instead of walking back we got the bus.

Back in Kamakura we went to have a look at a Tsurugaoka Hachimangu temple because it was right in front of us when we got off the bus. I felt really tired at this point so we went to a cafe to sit down and play cards for about an hour.

Then we took the train to Hase station so we could have a look at the big statue of Budda.

Daibutsu

だいぶつ large statue of Budda

It's very impressive. What I found most interesting was the good luck charms you could buy. There were some general charms for good health and success, but also some very specific charms like safe traffic and there was even one to make your leg stronger.

After visiting the big Budda we got back on the train and headed to Enoshima island to have dinner and look at the illumination (fairy lights).

The next day we took the train to Chigasaki station to look at the beach.

Hama

beach

Then we went back to Enoshima island to visit an onsen called Enospa. The onsen cost ¥1555 (£8.70)

Then we took the train back to Tokyo.

Hope this helps anyone thinking of planning a trip to Kamakura, if you have any questions send an email to nwjlyons@googlemail.com and I'll see if I can help.


Neil Lyons

Freelance Web Developer based in the UK.