The spirit and tone of sightseeing varies greatly depending on who you are with, the weather of the day, as well as whether or not you brought a camera along. The last time I visited Kamakura, my camera gear had not yet arrived to Japan. Granted, it was also December, and a little too cold14 to be holding a camera all day. For a long time, I wanted to go back to this historically significant city and take a closer look around with my trusty camera in tow.
Six months later and I found myself wandering in the northern area of Kamakura! As mentioned in my previous update post, I had a loose plan for where to go this time around, but in general I wanted to hop around from temple to temple (there are many in Kamakura) and get some shots I had not made from Buddhist grounds before.
(Photographer’s note: The light this day was often very harsh, so you will see some generous tone-mapping in some of the following photographs to bring out shadow/highlight detail)
Right outside the Kita-Kamakura station, I made my way to the first temple grounds, the large Engaku-Ji complex.
Sprawled out over many acres, this area houses one of the most important Zen Buddhist complexes in Japan, and is filled with many different enshrinements, gates, national treasures, and burial sites.
Next up, only a couple-minute walk away, I briefly visited the smaller Tōkei-ji, a former nunnery historically known as a safe haven for women seeking divorce. This more compact complex is structured along a main pathway leading to a small bronze statue of Buddha.
On the way to the cemetery, strange purple flowers bloomed directly from the moss on the cliffside. An interesting sight many stopped to photograph.
Aside from that, I couldn’t help chasing down what few pretty flowers were still blooming. My only regret is not visiting the area back in Spring when more varieties of flowers would have been out.
Before making my final trip to Kōtoku-in, home of Kamakura’s “Big Buddha”, I made a quick pit stop at a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant (Iremono-ya Lago di Como) that could not have been more than 100 square feet in size, including the kitchen! The restaurant served three set dishes, and I splurged for some great pasta to fuel for what would become a grueling hike.
Since my knees are very close to being fully healed, I figured that it was time to put them to the test for a simple hike on a common trail beginning next to Jōchi-ji. Little did I know that despite a couple dry days, much of the trail was slippery mud, combined with steep tree root steps and rock faces to climb up and down. It’s safe to say I will be going easy on my knees for the next week. 🙂
On the trail, visitors pass the Kuzuharaoka Shrine, a small Shinto area that provides a nice break from the hike to walk around (see video at bottom for a brief walk-through).
Eventually, after my shoes caked over with mud, I made it to one of the most-visited attractions in Kamakura…the “Big Buddha”. I had seen a few photos of this statue, as well as heard some accounts from friends who toured the grounds, but WOW! You can’t appreciate the sheer size and scale of this huge statue of bronze, cast in thirty separate stages due to its immense size, until you stand right next to it (or inside it!) yourself.
With the sunlight fading, and my camera happily filled up with photos to edit, I left the Big Buddha and grabbed my first-ever green tea soft serve cone to accompany me on the walk to the train station. In related news, I now have a new favorite ice cream flavor.
On the way back to base, I couldn’t help but catch a couple shots in Verney Park outside Yokosuka station, of course.
Similar to my last post in Tokyo, I recorded a few video snippets of the day trip in addition to the photos. I still do not consider myself a videographer, though as time goes on and I visit more scenic places it may be something for me to explore further. As always, depending on when you visit the page, YouTube may still be processing the higher resolutions.
That’s all for this quick day-trip to Kamakura, guys and gals! There is still so much in the city that I want to return to, and places I want to experience for the first time! As it is a short train ride from Yokosuka, I should easily be able to visit again soon once I plan out another route. 🙂 As always, have a great day!