mm516: Japan – Travelogue 1.4

March 9, 2013

Lynne and Steve’s 30th Anniversary Extravaganza: Our Japan Adventure

Hayama – Yokosuka – Yokohama – Tokyo June 21 – July 1, 2000

Mon. 2000-06-26. Kamakura.

Dan left for work at his usual (5:40!) time, and we were on our own for the morning. Without a car, and before we knew how the buses worked, we were constrained to walking distance. Dan suggested that we check out the park near the beach we had seen our first day, so we walked up to the top of the hill where a parking lot branches off our favorite national route, and walked down to the beach. It wasn’t raining, but it was overcast, and thus looked threatening all day. But the temperature was pleasant, and we walked along the beach, still filled with workmen doing inscrutable things to inscrutable structures which might turn out to be concession stands, and boats and other nautical gear strewn about with un-Japanese untidiness. Very picturesque, since there are rock outcroppings in the water nearby, and a tree-filled spit of land to the south. So, we took pictures.

Found the park, and walked up some stairs to it. A nondescript gazebo, a few benches, some grass. A woman with two extraordinarily cute children was nearby. The kids were playing with each other, and were absolutely adorable. Lynne had to take their picture, and asked (their mother?) for permission, which was cheerfully granted. She had very serviceable English, and told us the girls were each three years old. I haven’t seen the pictures, but even if they only catch half the spirit of these kids, the pictures will be really wonderful.

We walked back along a street that at home would be an alley, dodging oncoming cars all the way. Dodging is unfair: they see us, they go around us, but there just isn’t a lot of room to spare, so it feels dodgy.

As planned, Dan was able to spare the afternoon off, got home noonish, and we set off on our once-canceled visit to Kamakura. This entailed the Great Bus Experiment, which turned out reasonably well. Even though we didn’t quite handle the money thing correctly, the driver politely did so for us. People here are polite, even to barbarians.

The bus landed us as hoped at Zushi, a train station on the Yokosuka line. Kamehara was just one stop away; we transferred to a small local train to get three stops closer to our destination. After a short walk through a colorful part of town (an artist’s colony for hundreds of years, Dan reports) we arrived at the park enclosing the Daibatsu [sp?] Buddha, a worthy site to see. It’s bronze, quite elderly (400-500 years old at least), and BIG, over 35 feet tall. For ¥20 you can even walk inside! We photographed it, and admired it, and purchased souvenirs at its gift shop.

Then, we set off on foot to see a famous shrine. We walked, through more tony residential neighborhoods, up and down alleys somehow accommodating us AND two-way vehicular traffic, always guided by Dan’s excellent guidebook on the area, and by signs promising “So and so Shrine”, “1.9km”, “1.6km”, “600m”, etc. We walked, and walked and walked. I can do the math. 1.9km is less than a mile and a quarter, ordinarily a piece of cake, even on a hot and humid, if still overcast, day. But we never got there. In desperation we walked back toward another shrine, which we found, and which turned out to be distinctly anti-climactic. Just a wood building. And, some special tree, or trees, that Dan wanted to see turned out to be up a tremendously steep set of many too many stairs, so we abandoned that effort.

But, our slogging had a happy end. Walking back around into town (and we had made a large circuit between the local train, and all of our walking) we arrived at another favorite restaurant of Laura and Dan’s, again with no discernable English name. It was down a small path, down the street from the train station (couldn’t have been better for our worn out feet).

This was a true Japanese experience, beginning with removing our shoes at the door (thank goodness, no holy socks!). We sat on cushions placed around a very low table, all set on tatami mats. Very traditional. The specialty of the house is Okinomyaki, a kind of omelet that one cooks for oneself at this house, on the grill set into each table. Dan did the honors; we had two of these delicious dishes, bracketing Yakisoba, a stir fried noodles dish Dan also cooked for us. Dan says that Okinomyaki is the functional equivalent of pizza for Japanese, fast food, not very refined. But delicious, fun because we (er – Dan) cooked it ourselves, and the overall experience, which included a view of a most peaceful garden complete with a pool with fish, was exquisite. And, though I detected an arm of the chopsticks patrol nearby, no action was taken.

After recovering our shoes (don’t ask!), we took the train, and the bus home. A very nice day.


So, feeling a bit rusty after more than a four-year hiatus, and reflecting a totally internal need to get some content back into the ether, I’m repurposing a couple of personal travel journals. Because both are lengthy, in excess of 30 pages (Word document pages, that is), I plan to slice them up into more digestible form. I will try to resist the urge for much after-the-fact content or style edits, especially content. This is Yr (justifiably) humble svt, circa 2000, and the travelogue documents an amazing (for us) adventure, and where my head was at nearly 13 years ago. Your comments are always welcome.