As promised, here’s some pictures from our AOB/ICR trip to Kamakura.
This was really our first trip off base, other than walking right outside the gate to a currency exchange which definitely doesn’t count, we hadn’t had the time or energy to do any adventuring up to this point. So I was really glad that this trip was scheduled into our orientation.
We took the train from Yokosuka to Kamakura and from there everyone kind of split up and went separate ways for lunch.
And this is the look of a man who has enjoyed
as much sushi as he could. 🙂 Bliss.
This is a maneki-neko, ‘the beckoning cat’. It is a common Japanese figurine said to bring good luck and wealth. This one was a particularly large one in the doorway of a little shopping center. We were basically told he is placed there to bring in customers and their money. I see these everywhere, though usually not this large. Most of the ones I’ve seen are fairly small and usually look to be ceramic. I guess this guy is really trying to attract some big money!
After lunch, we were able to go on a guided tour of a Shinto shrine, Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu.
This is where we entered the trail to the shrine. It is protected from evil by two guardians, one on each side. The guide was saying something about them and why one has its mouth open and one has its mouth closed, but unfortunately I was having a very difficult time hearing him. Which is why I took the information I could hear and have looked some stuff up online to verify things before posting this. Matt was making fun of me for it, but I don’t care. I want to at least TRY not to mislead you all here. No promises though, I’m only as sure as wikipedia. Consider yourself ‘warned’.
You pass under a torii to enter, a torii is a gate that symbolizes a transition from ‘the profane to the sacred’. We were told it is for the purpose of cleansing the soul before entering into the shrine. I’m not sure if that part is true or not. Does anyone have any idea if that’s true or not?
I honestly don’t know what this is. But I thought it looked pretty neat.
A view of the shrine from across the bridge. There are several bridges that cross into the shrine. The arched bridge, which is now blocked off, and flat ones on either side of the arched bridge. From what I read, the arched bridge was exclusively for the shogun, originally there was only one flat bridge and it was for the common people.
The bridges cross a canal that separates two different ponds. The ponds are called Genpei and they represent two families, Minamoto (‘Gen’) and Taira (‘Pei’). There are red and white lotus plants in the ponds. When the ponds were first dug the red and white were in separate ponds, each color representing the different families. Our guide told us that even though for a long time they kept the plants separate, they have intentionally let them mix together to represent that they are now at peace.
I can’t remember what this is called. It has something to do with cleansing yourself before you enter the shrine. This was one of the times that I couldn’t hear the guide so unfortunately I don’t really know the details. Fresh water bubbles up into this receptacle, you scoop some of the water up, pour it into your hand, draw that water into your mouth, rinse with it and then spit it out. You then pour the rest of the water out of the scoop with it facing you and pouring over your hand. I wish I had more specifics about it.
And here’s the shrine! We even got lucky enough to be in a picture. Yay!
I had taken a bunch more with my phone, but I hadn’t yet synced it when we went on this trip and when I did I lost all of the photos I’d taken. It was a big disappointment since I didn’t take my camera back out after we left here. We had walked around the area for a while and went to several of the small shrines. It was a lot of fun and very entertaining.
We greatly enjoyed our first outing in Japan and I can’t wait to get out and do more exploring.
But first, we MUST find a place to live!