Return to Japan 2013: July 13 – Budda Zoom

A sign in Kamakura that is trying to explain that the Big Buddha station is 200 meters ahead. Looks like "Budda Zoom".

A sign in Kamakura that is trying to explain that the Big Buddha station is 200 meters ahead. Looks like “Budda Zoom”.

On July 13 The Wife and I went to Kamakura to meet her friend and husband. I have been to Kamakura many times before, and it is always interesting every time. This particular day was hot, humid and sunny. Since my shorts were in the wash, I was stuck wearing jeans which allowed me to slowly cook through the day like a Thanksgiving turkey.

From Mishima station we took Tokaido line to Ofuna station. At Ofuna we changed to the Yokusuka line and had a short ride to Kamakura. We met The Wife’s friend at the station. Kamakura gets a lot of visitors from other countries, but with my blond hair and giant nose I stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. I am always easy to find in busy train stations.

From Kamakura station we got on the Enoden line. The Enoden line is a unique experience because it is so narrow and essentially winds its way through people’s back yards. I got off the train at Wadazuka and nervously followed The Wife and friend along side the tracks to a hidden dessert restaurant. Seriously, if a train had come we would have had to flatten ourselves against the wall. The restaurant itself was beautiful and served fantastic traditional Japanese sweets at low tables with tatami mats. For the record – I do not recommend walking along busy train lines looking for hidden restaurants.

After another scary walk beside the train line, we took a train to Hase station and began the walk towards Daibutsu, the giant Buddha statue of Kamakura. Along the way we encountered endless souvenir shops and restaurants. Among the highlights were a Turkish Donair Kebab restaurant, an ice cream shop where US President Obama stopped for Ice Cream and several stores that sold gummy Buddha candies. The Wife happily bought some gummy Buddhas as a souvenir, but I had mixed feelings on the issue. Imagine the controversy if someone sold gummy Jesus candies at the Vatican, or gummy Mohammad candies just outside of Mecca. I don’t think people would be impressed even if they saw that the gummy candies were available in 4 different flavours.

I have been to Daibutsu before, but it is still an impressive sight every time. It was built in 1252 out of bronze and stands over 13 meters high. It has survived tsunamis, earthquakes, wars and millions of tourists, only needing a little rebuilding and reinforcing from time to time. If you are visiting the greater Tokyo area, Kamakura is always a worthwhile stop.

Leaving Daibutsu, we took a sweaty walk down the street and made our way to Hase Dera, home to a massive wooden statue of Kannon. The temple grounds are elaborately landscaped with lush trees and flowers. Like Daibutsu, I had been to Hase Dera before, but never in this season. The trees were almost overwhelmingly green and delicately manicured. The grounds are also home to some beautiful stone statues and a cave with carvings of different gods inside.

On the way home we treated ourselves to the Green Car on Tokaido line. The Green car has reclining seats with tray tables like the Shinkansen, but is just a part of the regular train. We ate sushi bentos from Ofuna station, which has a huge selection of restaurants and bento shops. I love sushi, but sushi where the fish came out of the ocean that morning is light years ahead of sushi made from frozen fish. I also treated myself to a Chinese meat bun (nikuman) because it’s been way too long since I had one.

We returned to Numazu and I immediately peeled off my still damp clothes and took a shower. Summer in Japan is WAY too hot and humid especially in a popular tourist area full of people.

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