Day 51 - Kamakura & Ginza

Trip Start Sep 30, 2012
Trip End Jan 09, 2013

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Flag of Japan  , Tokyo,
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

We woke this morning with Ankit, our coach surfing host, pointing out Mt Fuji in the distance. A beautifully clear and sunny winter day. Ankit directed us to Kamakura, a little town outside Tokyo to the South East - it's claim to fame is being where the Samurai started localized rule - later the samurai shogunate ran the whole of Japan for of 700 years - the longest military rule in the world to date. It all began in Kamakura - making it a special cultural visit when travelling to Japan.
Grabbing a bite to eat at a quick shop then navigating the railways, we headed off.
Kamakura is a seaside town set in a hilly area, chosen for its natural defensive terrain by the samurai. The Samurai brought Buddhism to the area, while still practicing their traditional Shinto spirituality. The area has many old Buddhist temples, Shinto sites and other culturally treasured sites.
The town has a lovely boutique main street heading toward some important temples we wanted to visit. We walked down checking out the interesting restaurants and stores. It was a great opportunity to take in people and the environment.
The temple we visited was set on the side of a forested hill. It was interesting to see how different the approach to Buddhism was to the other countries we have been to. Japan have their own flavour. We saw a few younger girls in kimonos visiting the temple. Ankit explained that it is traditional that special birthdays include a trip to the temple. The front of the temple people through coins into a trough, bowed and clapped. A drum was hit every now and again. Very interesting to watch.
The temple had a small museum on the side with some cultural relics.
Continuing to wander the temple area we found a samurai museum. It was interesting to see the Buddhas they had on display. They were a little different from what we have seen before.
The other statues, paintings and brief history of the area were interesting too.
We went back to the main road to get lunch, finding a little side street which sold takoyaki - balls of some type of starch with octopus inside and fish shavings on top. They were very hot (heat). Nice to try, but would not be a regular menu item for us.
After another walk of the streets we had our last stop at a small modern art gallery which had prints of Chagall on exhibition. Fun.
We caught the train back to Tokyo, to Ginza, a trendy shopping area of the city. We were on a mission for sushi. Ankit had told us about a spot which had great value for money sushi, which was so popular people queue to get into the restaurant. After a little adventure of a walk through Ginza - which looks like an awesome area to go out in (restuarants, bars, and shops) - we found our spot and the line. With the great reports we decided it was worth the wait. We were lucky that a waitress lead us in to a table for 2 pretty quickly.
As we walked in the restaurant all the chefs cheered:)
We ordered a plate of various sushi each, 8 California rolls, and a speciality eel dish.
The sushi was much bigger than we expected, the quality of the meat was exceptional and sushi delicious! Anton finished off with a saki.
A great way to take in Tokyo and the Japanese culture.
Returning home we chatted with Ankit for a while before turning in - he has been a great host and our first coach surfing experience a success.
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