Tim had been to Kamakura with a co-worker before I came to Tokyo and he wanted to share the experience with me, so we decided to set out on a Kamakura adventure. This city is about one hour away by local train and is much more rural and residential than Tokyo. It was a nice change of pace and a breath of fresh air.
Our first stop was the great buddha - Daibutsu. This giant bronze statue is a massive 13.4 meters tall and 121 tons and is one of Japan's iconic images. You can even journey inside the statue for a small fee. Notice the photo I took inside of the casting.
The next stop was Hasadera Temple but first, Tim stopped to get what can only be called a giant octopus cracker. Small octopus are battered and placed on a flat grill. The lid of the grill is closed for about 30 seconds and and a large cracker emerges. Tim loved it and apparently so did everyone else - this place was in demand! I ate a mango Turkish ice cream cone from the (surprisingly) Moroccan man next door.
Fed and refreshed we made the short journey to Hasadera Temple. This buddhist temple is very beautiful, and includes several buildings, shrines, gardens, and even an underground cave. It's best known for its' giant wooden statue of Kannon.
We were fortunate enough to come to Hasadera Temple on the 18th day of the month. On this special day, visitors may turn the massive wooden prayer wheel, where the simple act of turning the wheel is worth several weeks of prayer!
Next we made another short journey down to the beach and I put my feet in Japanese sand for the first time. Beaches here seem identical to those in SoCal except for the fact that they're full of Japanese people. There were even tons of surfers in the water.
Side note: At the beach we saw the second mixed-race couple since we've been here where the man is asian and the woman is caucasian. Rare sighting!
Our final stop was Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, which is almost 1000 years old. This was another gorgeous spot with a lot to see and tons of tourists. As at most Buddhist shrines, here you can buy o-mikuji, a piece of paper containing your fortune. If the fortune is bad people tie it to a wire fence to avoid taking the bad luck with them. If the fortune is good, one can either bring it home for luck or also tie it to the wire to increase the luck.
We happened to be there the same time that a wedding was taking place. Weddings must be very popular here, as another bride and groom appeared to have just been married as we walked in. Notice the tourists who are FRONT and CENTER with their video cameras...
Lastly, when in Kamakura, one must stroll down the streets full of souvenir shops and yummy food vendors (too busy window shopping to snaps any photos). These streets were booming with Japanese and foreign tourists alike. Each Japanese city has its' own specialties so you're sure to find something unique that you can't find in your hometown.
If you're staying in Tokyo, it's we definitely recommend a trip to Kamakura!