Trip Start Nov 05, 2010
35Trip End Jan 16, 2011
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Today we had a bit of an unfortunate start. We had a big plan last night to either go and visit Mount Fuji or somewhere else equally fascinating. We liked this idea a lot.
However we had come up with this plan and researched it, then taken turns to chat to homies (I finally get that word, it sounded silly before, but you are all people from my home! Wait... it does still sound a bit cheesy.) while the other napped. This ended up going on til about 4 in the morning.
I cleverly set my alarm for 7 and realised I had 3 hours sleep which wasn't too bad as I'd already had an hour or to in a nap
So off the alarm went as planned, and we swiftly went downhill from there. We fussed about deciding that it was a long distance, we could spend the time doing other things and seeing other sights! So filled with this inspiration we got up and checked facebook and skyped with Jade and Lora for about an hour while each of us got ready.
p.s. we decided to go to Kamakura, a place full of temples and shrines for some awesome photo-ography opportunities! It was closer and would keep us busy for ages!
We left just before 10 ish, roughly an hour and half behind our planned time, but people who regularly arrange to see me in the pub, or at work will call it about in line with my sense of being early. (slight exaggeration with the work comment, minor downplay on the pub waiting time. Pinch of salt required.)
We knew what we were doing, now that we are pro's on the ticket machines, and got our ticket from Akihabara, over to Tokyo Station, (It's all Tokyo, just different areas, like the various areas of london
From Tokyo we found the line we needed (Yokosuko Line), and a drink machine, from which I bought a drink called Pokari Sweat, a funny tasting isotonic lemonyish water thing, then congratulated ourselves on being awesome at this, jumped on and realised we hadn't eaten.
Few moments of moaning, then we searched for passtimes. We had picked up a news paper from in front of our room - The International Herald Tribune - a enchanting read to the traveller with nothing else to do. Not. Alex fell asleep and I tried to prove to myself that I was in the right place to read one of these newspapers.
This level of effort required serious determination and focus. I was so very focused that as a result failed to notice that our train was going the wrong way.
So after a fair while, lets say the time now was 11 30 ish, we arrive at a station, and suddenly everyone evacuates the train. I do a double take, look back at my paper, and then back at the empty train we are now in. Clearly the train has reached the end of the line. Uh oh.
I spot the train driver walking down the carriages and quickly shake Alex to life, walking quickly over to the the driver who is jumping ship from the carriage. I mumble a few Japanese sounds that have no meaning, but loud enough so that he turns to ask what it was I was saying. I say where we had hoped to be stopping, Kamakuru, and he hesitates in breaking us the bad news, instead saying you need to switch over to line 5 for the 11:44.
Well, we hoped that was what he said,
We thank him and learn that we are in Chiba, exactly the opposite direction to where we wish to be, and now twice as hungry! We decide to grab some food. This turned out to be an interesting experience, firstly because there was an actual zombie in the station, with unkempt hair, looking at the floor, hands in front of his chest pointing out, and infected looking barefoot with shoe's half off , strong smell of cheese and shuffling around. Actually a really sad sight and must be a horrible illness but when he got behind Alex in a queue and was mumbling to himself, I was very impressed that she didn't start hiding.
Anyway, we were far to hungry to be put off, so we got to order, I grab a safe choice ham and cheese sandwich with a latte coffee, and Alex points to BLT and a picture of what appears to be coke
Turns out the picture was of iced coffee. Quite nice actually! Alex resorted to orange juice from a shop.
So we return to out mission, one of us rather more caffinated than expected, the other less hungry. And get back to platform 5 to find a train waiting for us, very handy. On we get, this time very aware of the voices announcing which stop we are at, and keeping an eye on the order of destinations.
Again, we fail and end up another stop from our plan. This one was Hon-chiba. We recruit the help of an innocent bystander to our cause, with some crafty communication skills she helps us in the right direction, and we make it back to Tokyo safely, we thank her with a domo arigato when she leaves. We stay on the train and it manages to take us all the way through to Kamakura without any other drama.
A thing we've noticed, everyone sleeps on the trains. We had a whole row in front of us, all with head lolled, one guys mouth was wide open, one was out with phone in hand
Righty! So now we've arrived a Kamakura, it's just past 2:00ish. Would have been quicker to visit Fuji as it turns out. Oh well!
We leave the station and in front of us is about 7 different bus stop's. A quick hunt for a tourist information desk and we are in luck (which is proved later with an Omikuji! More about that later though) , an English copy of the the bus stops destinations and a discount multi bus pass fare. We agree to this, get it all over to the ticket office and purchase these bad boys. Then the lady comes out and tells us to go catch bus number 4 quickly, something something bamboo gardens.
So moments later we find ourselves in a bus, that starts driving along and stopping at arbitrary locations. After several stops I ask the poor women who has the misfortune of being in the seat in front of us where we are, pointing to the bus route. She is entirely unhelpful by pointing to one of the many temples and making the point (lots of points here) that we have passed it, it's back behind us. She's very sure of this
So now we in the middle of a town, with a map, which is good, but no idea where we are in relation to the map.
We start to walk down a path until we find a Shrine, luckily there are lots of shrines and temples, so finding out which was the only issue. It was very nice of history to put all of them in such a small vicinity and make our life easier to locate ourselves. Turned out we were at the Egara Tenjinsha Shrine.
Incredible places, beautiful and peaceful, total contrast to the city centre. Amazing structures and history and belief and care have been put into all of the shrines and temples, which are still used, and graves behind them that we saw many people adding flowers and refreshing the water for the loved ones. One grave even had an unopened beer can next to it, possibly as a laughing and happy memory
We didn't get many pictures of the graves out of respect, and a lot of inside of the shrines and temples had no photo signs up as it was a holy spiritual place and maybe the feeling that it's an inappropriate location for tourism and pictures.
The gardens were very picture friendly though. We had to pay small entrance fee's to each shrine which goes towards care I hope! Lots of pilgrimage happens to these.
Sadly out of the 30+ sites we could have visited, we only had time for about 4 or 5. We saw the Egara Tenjinsha Shrine, Sugimotodera Temple, Hokokuji Temple, Jomyoji Temple, and the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. In that order. I'll let the pictures show the grounds. There was some kneeling down at Jomyoji to feel the energy and atmosphere of the place. And we saw a ritual being performed, but to what end I don't know, but in the crowd area we all through money into a box thing and clapped once or twice then bowed with a prayer.
The Omikugi I mentioned earlier was able to be bought from the final temple we went to
We the went for more food, it was about 5 30 maybe 6 at this point and we got some pasta after investigating many funny looking menus.
In the restaurant was a oldish man called Akira, who joined us and asked if we were spies. You can see/tell/hear (depending on your psychology) that this was going to be an interesting evening.
Luckily he did speak english, vaguely, along wiith mixed in Japanese.
Among the list of ramblings he asked me:
- if I was German because he thought that I had said 'Nein'.
- We then had a long strange chat with him about history of Japan
- Tokyo's old name of Edo about 350 years ago
- How he had been to America once,
- Whether he could come visit us in England some day (A glance was shared between me an Alex, the answer was a no)
- The Beatles
- He hummed a few songs, and asked twice if we spoke French.
- His last name was something like Mae Shima meaning Front Island.
- And he mentioned the falklands, the Iron lady, and that he loved English voices!
And many other things include spitfires and planes. He was very well learned across a wide range of areas, and was happy to tell us more. We asked him what should we visit tomorrow on our sort of last day in Tokyo, and he mentioned as a Tokyoite, they have and Eiffel Tower in France, but that we have a huge tower in Tokyo, 320 meters! So we kindly got the waitress over with a pen and he wrote the directions on a napkin.
I'm slightly disappointed that we didn't get a picture with him, slipped my mind. But he's a regular there at the Kamakura italian meal place, so do visit him if any of you come here
Eventually we finished our pasta and left, wishing him many thanks and a lovely evening.
The trip home was quick, it was a bit mad because of rush out people getting home.
But smooth, no interesting repeats of this morning :)
Sorry for a massive blog, hope you enjoyed it though!