"An account of Simple walk : Kamakura trip"
First I would like to thank everybody for their contribution in terms of planning, organizing and participating (that's also important!) in this walk in Kamakura. TMWC is indeed getting popular with people joining us even from Tokyo. And after this walk we think that more people with children can join the walks. We decided to take the easiest walk because of our son Amaan (4 year old). The route covered many temples, ending with the great Daibutsu. We started from the west side of the station, heading northwards. We were to go in a roughly circular route towards the west and then to south. There was a slow climb in the beginning. And soon we found ourselves in a yard which made us feel like we had been tranported back in time by many centuries! This looked like a temple garden. There was a sprawling old building with architecture and the layout similar to all those very old buddhist temples we had seen in Kyoto. Except that in this one there was still an acitivity which might have been in much older times! There were monks sitting sipping tea in the tea room, having (possibly) a quite discussion. There were priests huddled in a corner in the big prayer hall. There were many women and all in Kimono(!), waiting as if a Zen prayer was about to begin. We also waited for it for about 10 min, but realized that we couldn't spend all of our time in Temple, so we moved on. On coming out of the temple we realized that we had entered through the backyard. And it has a very good reason - John gave us a route map in which I could see at the point he had suggested us, was written in Katakana "start". So we were doing the normal hiking course backwards! While coming out at the entrance we read the name of the temple, but I cannot remember it now (and the Kanji on the map is no help to me). When we went further we were suddenly at the end of the path we were following and up against a steep hill. We thought we had probably strayed from our course, but on enquiring found that we were to climb up a small trail up the hill (to our surprise whomever we enquired something in Kamakura could speak english). This brought us to a garden on the hill top, with a statue of a famous general (whose name again I forget). We took a break. Then we went further to another hilltop to a Shinto shrine. Rest of the way was down the hill. Another temple which made us very curious (I can't remember the Japanese name) was that of money-washing god! The gate to this temple is sort of a cave, as also is the main part of the temple. At first I wondered as to how can a god wash you of your money. Then it turned out that actually it was a god of money. People aspiring to be prosperous keep money in a cane basket, wash it (the money) then offer it to the god - so its money washing god. I, as stingy as I am, kept only 50 yen in the basket. When I saw the man beside me washing ichi man yen, I felt a little ashamed. I felt even more ashamed when I found out that I was supposed to take back the offering of the money with me (perhaps this is why you prosper - you make an offering to the god and the god returns it). Had I known earlier I too would have offered ichi man or may be more! So after washing out our luck on money washing god we moved on and saw some more temples. The last 1.5 km of the walk was eventless, untill we reached the Dai-Butsu (Great Buddha) Dai-butsu is a bronze sculpture of 13.35 meter height and weighing 121 tons. Its shelterless, as its shelter was blown away by a storm sometime in the past. So its color is bluish - that of copper oxide! This sculpture is hollow from inside and there is small stairway inside leading upwards upto the shoulder of buddha. We had lunch in this compound and relaxed for a long time. Even though we had completed the scheduled trekking with a lot of time to spare, it was just enough for our son (specially in that heat)! He had walked quite fast with us. We walked further southwards and came across another temple on a small hill. This was Hase-dera temple where hundreds of small statues of monks make a lovely sight. It also offers a full view of yugihama beach from its garden. It had a holiday like atmosphere. Then we decided to walk down to the Hase beach, very close now. We still had sometime to spare and we thought we would take a taxi to reach the Kamakura station at the meeting time of 15:30. The beach was quite dirty and far from a lovely sight the way it was described in my guide book. Nevertheless, we enjoyed swimming for half an hour. Amaan too was finally happy to splash around in water. All this while he had been putting up with us walking from one temple to another and ignoring his repeated requests to let him play with the toys that he had brought with him. We came out and looked around for a taxi - there were none to be seen. When we asked in a shop, we were told that there were no chances of getting a taxi and the only way to reach station was to walk 3km! We had already wasted time looking around for taxi and we now had only 10 minutes to reach the station. We started running with Alok carrying all the bags and me carrying Amaan - hoping against the hopes of getting a taxi. And when we had finally lost hope, since it was already 15:45, just 4 min. to the departure of the direct train to Arakawaoki, and the Kamakura station was still 2km away! And then we found ourselves at a local (Yugihama) station. We talked to the railway official who understood our urgency and gave us tips and guidance. So we boarded a train at 3:46 to reach Kamkura by 3:48 and managed to get in the train for Arakawaoki by 3:49. And then what a sence of relief when we saw Victor and John, and knew we had made it! Perhaps that was the most adventurous part of our trip.