zondag 11 oktober 2009

Sunday October 11 Tokyo, Kamakura and Kita Kamakura

Sunday October 11
Tokyo, Kamakura and Kita Kamakura
25 Sunny day
At 5:45 I was awake, really awake. I opened the curtains a little to peek into the early dark Sunday morning. Wrong, it was not dark! In fact the sun was about to make its way on the horizon. What better timing than this, to try and catch the early sunlight on mount Fuji from Tokyo 12th floor. I silently grabbed my gear, as Sheila was still asleep and took some trial shots. Than in the corner of my eyes I thought I saw someone walking on the 14th floor of the other building next to our hotel. Nah, its 5:45 I probably are not awake and see ghosts. Than on the 13th floor... again, but this time I saw it clearly. A old man with a big backpack on his neck. And after a few minutes, when he touched the basement I guess, he came back up! It must be his Sunday ZEN moment or exercising to climb Mount Fuji some day. With his 4th return trip I got to know the timing and started to aim the camera on him. Everybody his own hobby isn't ;-) I got him a few times, and than he saw me, I nodded my head. He continued without loosing speed. Interesting experience at 6am on Sunday on the other side of the World to me. The sun started to shed some beams on the buildings and somewhat later also on the majestic mountain. Happy with the early birds result I got back in bed again, to let the alarm wake me for the second time that day.
At 8am the sun was shining from a blue sky. At the Shinjuku Station we had to ask a couple of times where to transfer our vouchers in real passes for the train. The service at the JR information center was excellent, efficient and friendly again, or the better wording might be now, it was Japanese style.
With the fresh passes we went on board (after lining up smoothly with the rest of the travelers) to Kamakura. A city at the sea with many temples and ancient buildings(about 65 of them). And the best and famous attraction, the 13,5 meters high Great Buddha, Well and GREAT this Buddha is. Wow.
We pick-nick near the Great Buddha, as we bought some nice ready made sandwiches at the station. Delicious. We continue our journey and on the way we buy some soft ice cream with caramel flavor, cool. We pay a fee and enjoy the Hase-Dera-Tempels, statues and eagles flying over the crowd. The sight of the sea, well the Great Ocean is nice too. We walk back, but as we had walked and climbed(stairs) for some hours already we thought of taking the bus back to the station Kamakura. An other lesson in Japanese ways to travel. You get in the bus (enter via the backdoor) and take a ticket. This ticket has a number. On the display of the bus, you see the prices for the numbers, if you would get off the next stop. So if you continue your travel, you see the price climb up. (We already knew to the station it would be/stay 190 Yen). When you leave the bus, you put your ticket in a machine and put cash next to it. If you have not the exact number, an other machine provides you coins / exchange for bigger billets you might have have. In our case, the 1000 Yen was taken by the bus-driver, and he did all of the machine tricks and gave back the exact exchange. Friendly guy.
Next we visit Kita Kura, 1 stop further in this town. By food to far, so we go by train (passes are valid anyway). Here we find also a nice Main Gate(San-mon), Worship Temple(Butsu-den), Hojo, ZaZen buildings and much more. The sun is moving away (its around 17:00) and we go back to the train.
As we now get up at a very little train station, information is rare and not always translated in English. We jump on the train and get out on the next (bigger) station, as all these trains on this track do the first 5 stations, but than can split up in 5 other tracks, we want to make sure we get on the right track(literally). On this bigger station an information desk is available and a friendly guy helps us. He does not speak English, but my pronunciation of the destination is good enough for him to understand our question. (Questions we had, what train, what platform and what time does it depart... tough guy if you would be able to ask that in Japanese ;-)... and... understand the answers). The guy answered with 5 fingers, indicating platform 5 the train would leave from and typed on a digital calculator (sheila thought he was typing the price of a ticket, which we did not need as we had passes... I said, let him finish) and on the display stood 18,16... brilliant. 18:16 was the time of departure. The very full train takes us back to Shinjuku where do not feel hungry but do want some vitamins (both are still having flu symptoms). The only restaurant with something like a salad is an Italian one. We order pasta, Japanese style pasta in soup and the fresh salad. Rather good stuff. We buy some interesting flavored donuts for desert later tonight or for small breakfast in the morning and head home, as we call the Hotel already.
My mom and dad are online and we manage to get Skype with webcam started and talk about the trip. I update the blog and go to bed.
Greetings, Marcel

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