My husband and I have been talking about doing a big day trip to Enoshima and Kamakura since we arrived, and last Monday, MLK Day, was FINALLY the day!
Enoshima is an enchanting island full of shops and surrounded by Sagami Bay. It’s picturesque and quaint. We walked over the footbridge from Kamakura and enjoyed the most beautiful view of Mt. Fuji (known here as Fuji San) that I’ve seen to date. The thing to do is to walk to the top to see the temple, but there were lots of other lovely things to do and see, too. Lots of little shops line the main street, and it’s an enchanting little slice of traditional Japanese life.
Kamakura, on the other hand, is also picturesque, but it is more of a Western-style beach town. It is full of little shops that are mostly Western-style, it has a wonderful street trolly system, and it is very scenic. The beaches are pretty, though shallow compared to the American beaches that I am used to, and, though Enoshima was a wonderful little daytime trip, I could literally spend 3 days walking up and down every little side street in Kamakura. As a matter of fact, I may do that very thing while my husband is deployed this summer!
Kamakura is most famous for its Great Buddha — a 43ft high bronze statue of Buddha, located in the heart of Kamakura. It dates all the way back to 1243. Yes, you read that right — TWELVE FORTY-THREE! More then 200 years before Columbus landed on North America. I was very taken with the temple complex and I’d love to visit it again — hopefully on another day during the Japanese work week.
After visiting Enoshima Island and the Great Buddha, our final stop was the Hokoku-ji Temple, which was located in Kamakura also, but many miles from the Great Buddha. To get there, we had to travel by street trolly and then we walked 3mi round trip. There was a bus, but the day was very nice, so we decided to go the long way.
Hokoku-ji Temple, founded in 1334, might be my favorite place that I’ve visited in Japan. Not only are the temple gardens very beautiful and serene, another level of serenity awaits in the bamboo forrest behind the temple. As you click through the photos, imagine complete quiet as you walk through the bamboo forrest. Japan itself is a quiet, calm country (which I will miss above all else when we leave!), and, for me, this temple complex epitomizes all things Japanese. It’s perfectly manicured, quiet, it honors elders and those departed, and it is a place where I could simply sit and enjoy enjoy the day. In a word, WOW.
We caught the train near base at 9am, and we were finished with our day and back on the train home by 3pm. If you ever find yourself in Japan, regardless of the season, this is a lovely day trip and I highly recommend it!