2012 Japan Trip Day 30 – Kamakura

Date of Travel: 28/02/2012

We kicked-started the penultimate leg of our trip with an early start. We were definitely half asleep, as we ended up hopping on the shinkansen which does not accept JR Passes, and were caught by the conductor! Luckily he didn’t ask us to pay any fines. At least, we think he wasn’t going to. We hopped off the shinkansen at Kyoto anyway just in case! There, we finally got on the correct one and headed towards Tokyo Station. We dumped our luggage in coin lockers, and hopped on yet another train to Kamakura. Kamakura is known as the mini Kyoto of the East, as a large number of temples and shrines were spread out around the town. We had a quick walk around the main town area before having lunch.

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Our aim after lunch was to find the Tenen Hiking Trail. According to Japan-Guide, this walk contains several tomb caves, which sounded very interesting. To reach there, we headed through the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine grounds. This shrine was located northeast along the main road from Kamakura station. The grounds were quite large and pleasant to walk through, but we did not spend much time here as we wanted to cover the Tenen Hiking Trail before it got dark. We reached Kenchoji Temple after following the main road heading west. We had a quick look around the place but could not find the start of the Tenen Hiking Trail! We ultimately gave up and decided to tackle the Daibutsu Hiking Trail instead.

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We continued west along the main road, then turned left. We thought we were going to reach the Jochi-ji temple, which was the starting point for the Daibutsu Hiking Trail. However, we soon crossed paths with the JR line, and immediately I knew that we were lost! We decided to continue down this path anyway since it would likely cross the hiking trail sooner or later! We ended up passing some tomb caves, a random cave with beautiful moss and fern leaves growing around its interior, and reached a temple. The temple (which I later found out was named Kaizo-ji) had some beautiful plum blossoms in full bloom, which I personally thought was prettier than those we saw back in Kyoto a few days prior. The temple was quite small but spacious, and we had a nice stroll around.

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We backtracked a bit before I finally figured out where we were! We were right next to Genjiyama Park, which also joins up with the Daibutsu Hiking Trail. We followed the path until we reached Zeniarai Benten. This is another popular shrine in Kamakura, where people visit to wash their money, which supposedly increases one’s wealth. The entrance to the complex, and the washing area itself, was amazingly built into the hills. It was a very unique shrine.

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After exploring the shrine, we continued along the hiking trail towards Kotokuin Temple. The trail mostly passed through forest areas, and offered great views of the town. There were quite a few squirrels scurrying about as well. Somewhere along the way, we all got separated from each other. Brownie rushed ahead, but took the wrong turn at the end and got lost. J.C. decided to take things slightly slower, and asked me to move on ahead. I thought that Brownie was well ahead of us, so I headed straight to the Kotokuin temple a couple hundred meters from the end of the hiking trail. In the end, I was the first one there!

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Kotokuin temple is famous for having the largest outdoor bronze Buddha statue (second largest bronze Buddha statue overall). It sits in the middle of the temple grounds, surrounded by other temple buildings. There were also large straw slippers being hung up, which is supposedly the size of the Buddha statue’s feet! After wandering about a bit more and regrouping with Brownie and J.C., we started heading back to the train station. We stopped by an ice cream parlour selling Kamakura’s specialty – sweet potato ice cream. It was not bad, though I was not used to having sweet potato flavour in my ice creams!

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After returning to Tokyo station and collecting our luggage from the coin lockers, we hopped on a train to Mitaka station, where we would be staying with a friend of mine for a few nights. The train was the most packed I have seen on my trip thus far. It was very awkward as well as we were having large items of baggage and took up quite a lot of space. I took a quick picture of the train carriage, though I do not think the other passengers were all too pleased about it! My friend met us at Mitaka station, we were had dinner nearby. We walked back to his place which was only a short 10-15 minute walk away, where we chatted for a while before getting some sleep after a relatively hectic day!

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Daily Expenditure

1) TRANSPORT
N/A [Yay~ saving money!]
JR Trains covered by JR National Pass

2) ACCOMMODATION
N/A […what really? It’s great to have friends you can count on when you are travelling!]

3) FOOD
Breakfast from Lawson @ Momodani – 293 yen [lemonade cream bun, strawberry sandwich]
Lunch at Kamakura – 730 yen [Yaki buta-don]
Sweet potato ice cream – 295 yen
Dinner at Mitaka JR Station – 590 yen [Tonkatsu]

4) ATTRACTIONS
Kotokuin Temple entrance fee – 200 yen

5) OTHERS
Coin locker at Tokyo station – 500 yen

TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
2,608 yen (515,790 yen total)

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