Buddies With The Big Buddha

Man oh man was today a ride. I mean that literally as well as figuratively; Lizzie and I bought the Enoden pass for unlimited train rides today, what what! It started off at Kotokuin, the temple renowned for Daibutsu, or the Great Buddha. It was pretty big, pretty cool and we even got to go inside the Buddha! For 20 yen only, what a steal. The inside was very interesting in that you could see all the melded layers of metal from how they constructed the Buddha, which had a fancy explanation but just looked like lumpy metal stuff to me. It was cool either way. After the joy of walking around inside the sculpture we still had time to kill while waiting for the shuin, so we looked at the gift shop where I found 2 perfect, local painted postcards depicting Kamakura and the Enoden. Then we grabbed out goshuincho and peaced out down the road.

Along the road was a Turkish ice cream nook, which had been intriguing me the handful of times we’d walked past it but never stopped. So alas, we veered over to the stand and dreams came true (for ~$3, that is). The guy was super sweet, spoke (at least) some English and reminded me of Santa. He also had really interesting ice cream – a much thicker texture and almost . . . gummier(?) than typical American varieties. It’s kind of difficult to describe but I would definitely get it again, if not all the time. Bonus, it was mango flavor and that is a holy thing. After that, as in literally 10 steps down the road, was this crazy crêpe stand with loads of options. This was also a place I’d been eyeing, so we finally stopped here to fill up before more adventuring. I had a hot tuna-mayo-cheese crêpe as my main dig and a kuri-an (chestnut and red bean) crêpe as a dessert one. Lizzie had the same but with custard instead for her sweet pic. They were well-sized, wrapped up fair-style and hella tasty. 10/10 would eat again.

Fully charged on food we started our trek towards Itsuki Garden, a magical little place we’d found online that supposedly had the charm of Ghibli’s Castle in the SkyWell, once we finally got there it did indeed have such charm, a fact that I loved. Getting there was a bit of a trip though. It isn’t quite out in the open, instead posing a bit of an adventure for those who’d like to visit. So we rounded up past the Daibutsu and off the main road on some stairs, starting on a low-key hiking trail. Now while the directions weren’t very clear, we were using my phone’s map and some signs, mostly in Japanese, to lead our way. Climbing more and more stairs, then hitting muddy patches and puddles galore, was both a mess and an extremely entertaining factor. Lizzie is no fan of hiking due solely for the exercise/difficulty portion, and this mini-trek wrapped all of this up in a not-so-nice package for her. Absolutely delightful (for me, at least). About 20 minutes later we wandered out into a little neighborhood which seemed . . . wrong, so we check my phone’s map and alas . . . wrong. Jesus.

Luckily for us this simply meant that we followed the main road for a bit before branching quite obviously to the cafe, a beautiful thing. On the way was this other cute hole in the wall place, as in a literal hole in the wall, but we had bigger better plans. After more stairs (an obsession I’m not understanding but alright) we made it, and it was just as quaint as the pictures! The woman welcomed us and told us to sit wherever, and when we were choosing seats another staff lady told us to look up, so we did. To see Mount Fuji!!! We’d seen it slightly from the Enoshima lighthouse, but at that point it had been cloudy and the sun was setting. Today was a crisp blue day with scattered clouds, and though I couldn’t capture it on camera (I think I’m the only one who can tell if I look at the pictures) we did indeed see it! The snowy cap, the definitive lines of the rock face; stunning. I’d love to see her up close one day, but for now this is enough. What a random and beautiful thing.

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She’s about dead center, but don’t feel bad if you can’t spot her.

Once we tore our eyes away from the mountain we took a nice seat on the patio, which was chilly but worth it. I had Kamakura cider while Lizzie ordered coffee and OJ, and we sat there for at least half an hour just relaxing. So happy we made it over there after a week of excitement over it! Alas, we did have to leave at some point to make it to Enoshima before everything there closed for the day, but this time we took the right path out and were merrily on our way.

Enoshima, take 2, was a bit more composed as we had specific goals and time restraints today. Ahh, always the best motivator for slug people. We power-walked our way to the Iwaya Caves, which consisted of a huge stairway down to them, and from the start 2 separate and equally beautiful caves. The first lead down a dark little path to a dragon, whose tale is posted below. Supposedly if you made a wish, clapped twice and he flashed back at you twice your wish would come true, but we couldn’t tell how he was supposed to flash. Lizzie took 2 pictures with flash on, so I’ll count it in my book. Oh, and since this part was dark they gave you a cool paddle with a candle on it to ‘light your way’. Of course there were still real lights and we would’ve been blind without the candles, but it was a fun old-timey feel.

The second cave was accessible via an open walkway, where some guy had carved a turtle out of the rock below. Mind you, this rock was in the ocean and almost fully submerged at high tide, so props to this guy who’d worked on this this hundreds of years ago. It was glorious and at sunset, so we stopped here for 5 minutes or so to just enjoy the view. Then we descended into cave 2, where I can’t quite remember the focal point but it had some cool statues and all. A crouchy, drippy, kick-ass experience.

Here’s me and Lizzie on a random outcropping rock. Not the best shots, but I do want to put them to use somewhere!

Once we checked out of there we stopped at the Lover’s Bell, a bell where couples go to ring it together for good love vibes. So of course, Lizzie and I rang it hand in hand, only to the reward of deafening ourselves. Ah, what fun. It was actually very lovely though, backlit with a beautiful sunset and separated from the path with pretty trees, bushes and little benches. Back on the main path was also this dragon shrine, which a group of people in front of us tried to whack the snout of by jumping. I, of course, followed their example and jumped to touch the snout like a dang sixth grader (and I’ll have you know I did it too).

We grabbed dinner after that, tonkatsu karee for Lizzie and shirasudon for me. Even though it was a tiny, less fancy place it was still good. We couldn’t read any of the desserts though, so we wandered off without it before ending up at the Enoshima Spa. Now, we still had time to kill before the discounted spa price (down about $6 after 6 pm) hit, so we decided to go to the spa’s 4th floor restaurant for dessert and time killing. Daaang was that fancy! Before you even enter the spa-owned area it’s shoes off, shoe locker w/key, the number of which they take to bill you, and general fancy-pants feel. When we got up to the restaurant it was pretty empty, likely due to it being a Wednesday night, so they gave us “the best seats in the house”, a statement I’ll agree with. We had a gorgeous view out of Enoshima on the ocean/towards the Kamakura vicinity we’d come from, classy jazz playing in the background and slippers on. Oh man, that is what I call the life. I had lychee and matcha gelato with cereal crunchies while Lizzie had a chocolate cake, both of which were A+ delicioso. Once we’d killed enough time we headed down to the desk to buy entrance to the onsen, which also ended up being pretty empty. This was great, since Lizzie hadn’t been to one before and wasn’t so keen on stripping down with a bunch of randos, but we did it and it was lovely. We probably spent over 2 hours in there, and it was just a fun experience that I might even call pro-bonding. We even spoke to a nice old Japanese woman for a while before she headed home. And when we shortly followed, the spa provided a shuttle service from their facilities to the Enoden we rode home. Everything about it was just so snazzy and pleasant, a great day all around and a nice end to our two days worth of Enoshima!

 

 

******

 

 

Now for an aside . . .

I am an American citizen, and proud of it. At least, I normally am. Today, however, I came home to find that my country, my peers, have chosen Donald Trump to lead our nation. And my heart absolutely broke. I normally don’t get into politics with people, much less with strangers, much much less on my light-spirited travel blog, but this is a matter worth addressing. I’ve posted this to my facebook, but for those of you who don’t personally know me I want my thoughts heard. Many of us are not proud of what has happened today, and my readers should know it.

‘Today has been a shameful day of American history, and never before have I been less proud of my fellow citizens. To those of you who are pleased with the results of this election, I truly hope you understand the homophobia, racism, sexism, xenophobia and other extremely disgusting things you choose to stand by. This goes for those who voted for this man, as well as those lacking enough competence to vote for our shared future because ‘it doesn’t matter’. I have no respect for such decisions.
As a queer woman, as someone who believes in tolerance and freedom for all, as someone who cares about the environment and the economy and who hopes for a future I can be proud of filled with love and progress – I have been let down and spoken against today. I cannot believe that this country chooses to disrespect the foundation it was built on and blatantly vote for hatred and oppression, despite putting the lives of its own citizens on the line with the threat of regressive legislation that opposes anyone that is not a cis white male. It is truly disheartening and sickening to know that this is what the American people have chosen.
For those of you who aren’t white, aren’t straight, aren’t Christian, aren’t male, aren’t in the gender binary and anything else that doesn’t fit the complete idiocy being cited as ‘truly American’, my heart goes out to you. I am here for you and hope you get the strength you need from friends, family and community. We may be forced to suffer the consequences of the ignorance and intolerance of our fellows, but you can be damned sure we are here for each other and will fight to keep America the progressive and accepting country she has the promise of being.
I don’t want a broken future. While it saddens me that many of my peers have chosen such, I believe that compassion and competence are the best ways to move forward. Those of you who voted for intolerance – please really look at what you’re saying will make American ‘great again’ and think about it. You’re choosing violence, the silencing of our rights and a very narrow view of what it means to be a part of this country. You are hurtful, you are disrespectful, and I beg you to see what you’ve really voted for. The American dream wasn’t built on these repulsive views and our future shouldn’t be either. Fight for love and peace, and acceptance of what truly makes us great. Fight for the diversity and openness of America. Fight for our future, and against the oppression facing us now. I want a country to be proud of. Don’t you?’

 

America has always been a country looked to by others, a progressive force in social movements, a powerhouse of an economy and a land of dreams. Don’t we want to continue making progress, and give other countries something to look to and aspire to? I can only shake my head, cry my tears and reach out to friends across the ocean, but I still have my voice. Neither I nor my fellows will accept it or sit silently as the country takes a turn for the worse. No, Americans are here and just as disappointed as the rest of you, and we will be fighting to quash these close-minded views that some people have chosen to stand by. We may be housing an unfortunate amount of unrest and incompetence, but you can be just as sure that we are also a nation that fights for what we believe in. I and many of my friends and generation believe in peace, and I’ll be damned if the next four years of my life and beyond aren’t spent fighting for it in every way that I can. This may be an experience disappointing beyond words, but it has impassioned me to share my voice and seek change in every avenue I can. I’m not trying to condemn, not looking for fights, but if you sit silently by while this type of intolerance goes on, or choose to overlook it as a minor aside, you are being complacent and a passive supporter on the path to hatred. Even if you want to believe the man himself doesn’t say/promote things in this vein, many of his followers do and his future power is an okay for those people to openly discriminate. So wherever you are in the world, I urge you to see this and stand against such attitudes if you can. Here’s to a long and hard road ahead.
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