Linda & Rip Take On Japan! Day 2: Kamakura

On Saturday, I woke up around 7:30 to find that everyone was already up, even SMS!  His clock reset after a recent rock-climbing trip so he got up with the sun which is definitely not his usual M.O.  We had coffee and a Spanish-style omelet before heading out to Kamakura for our first full vacation day.

Kamakura is awesome.  It is a town with a long, complex history that includes being a seat of power in Japan during the Kamakura period, c1200-1333.  There are many temples throughout but for the casual tourist, there’s definitely a set path to see the highlights.  The reason I mention this is one time I followed a guidebook in Kita-Kamakura to see the important Shinto shrines and…well, it wasn’t that big of a highlight to me.

Making noodles! (SMS)

We took the JR line to Kamakura Station and took the East Exit.  To the left of the station is the beginning of a cool, pedestrian-only shopping street, Komachi Dori.  There are several awesome shops and restaurants along this route, including my favorite Washi paper store, several gorgeous textile stores featuring the seasonal tengui cloths, and SMS’ favorite soba shop Nakamura-an.  At the washi paper store, I bought a 2015 letterpress calendar and a book on making Japanese dolls from washi paper.  New projects, coming up!  We were going to stop by the soba shop for lunch but it was a little too close to breakfast for three people in our group (SMS was ready to go!) so we went to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine first.

Family Portrait in front of the sake barrels. (SMS)

The shrine was built by the first Kamakura shogun Yoritomo Minamoto.  The grounds are huge and overlooks the main street which is lined with sakura trees almost to the beach.  It’s very picturesque and impressive and we toured the shrine and grounds.  From the temple, we walked down the main street Wakamiya Oji before cutting in back in to reach Komachi Dori.  Before we did that though, we meandered through a few back alleys that were super cute with some very popular restaurants (aka, lines out the door).  As a note to my future self, the entrance to the alleyway is on the left just past the croquette stand.

The lovely bride and groom at a wedding! (SMS)

Then, it was time for lunch!  We went to Nakamura-en and ordered up the soba.  The noodles are freshly-made.  While waiting in line, people watch the noodle chef go through his intricate process of rolling, folding and cutting the dough.  It’s pretty amazing and I really wish I ate a lot of pasta because I would love to buy a noodle knife!

The classic Kamakura picture! (SMS)

The soba was delicious and Linda and Rip navigated the chopsticks like champions.  Once we were fortified, we took the Enoden Electric Line to Hase and went to the Daibutsu, or Great Buddha.  It’s a huge bronze Buddha dating back to 1263.  A temple had previously been on the grounds but had been washed away by a tsunami in 1305.  The statue is incredibly impressive and the day was so beautiful that it was really a perfect sight.

I’m hiding in the bamboo!  Can you see me?


Next, we took a coffee (me) and gelato (everyone) break.  It was the perfect pick-me-up!  After we felt revived, we went to the Hase Kannon temple where we climbed the stairs to the 9m high Goddess of Mercy statue.  I don’t think her mercy extends towards sparing travelers from stairs in Japan- they’re everywhere!  We also saw the area with hundreds of Jizo statues, in addition to the Benten-Kutsu, a cave with Benten and her fellow goddesses.   Benten is the goddess of feminine beauty and wealth.  Hmmmm, maybe that will be my next internet pseudonym!

After that, we headed back to Yokosuka.  I thought we were going to rest at home for a bit, but Linda and Rip were holding strong.  We went to the Mercure hotel where there’s a great happy hour from 1730-1830 on the 19th floor restaurant.  Everything on their happy hours menu is Y300 and that includes wine, beer, sparkling wine, basic mixed drinks and several tapas.  Sagoy!

After drinks, we headed to Hananoya, a favorite Yokosuka restaurant for SMS and I.  It is an incredibly delicious French restaurant.  Linda and I had green salads, which were tasty and although we waited awhile for our main course, it was worth it!  Linda and I had amazing lamb chops, SMS had Beef Bourgnone and Rip had duck.  All of the dishes were amazing and what really set the dishes apart were the incredible reductions that were served to accompany the meat.  Delicious!

After that dinner, we were ready for bed!  We took a cab back to the house and crashed.  We had to rest up because the next day, we were on the move!

All photos in this post by SMS!