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 Sky. Well, 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.
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.