Giant Buddha, Shrine and Shopping in Kamakura

Day 17, Grand Asia 2018

Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, Yokohama, Japan:

I liked the nearby town of Kamakura so much last year that I signed up for a tour to go back. It’s a nice alternative to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and is less than an hour from Yokohama. Kamakura is one of the ancient Japanese capitals. It is known for the Giant Buddha at the Koutokuin Temple and the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. And for Komachi Street shopping.

This year I didn’t board the ship with plans for every port. I knew I could navigate some one my own. Because I booked late, many of the private tours organized over the roll call website were full.

I was a bit disappointed I didn’t have a plan to redo Tokyo this year, after visiting in the rain last year. But my day yesterday in Yokohama was most enjoyable, and the ship’s Tokyo tours were long and somewhat repetitive of my last visit. So I decided to take a 5-hour ship’s tour to Kamakura.

It was a good destination for sketching, as I had already visited the major sites. I sketched the giant Buddha fairly quickly and was pleased with the result. The area was full of Japanese schoolchildren on field days. And one of their assignments was to interview people using English. I guess my friendly face made me a good target.

They all wanted to know where I was from. I told the first boy interviewer I was from Dallas, Texas. He wasn’t familiar with either, but hopefully suggested “America?” Sure, I said. They also all asked what my favorite thing about America was. I tried to come up with different answers for each kid: The Grand Canyon. New York City, shopping. What is my favorite Japanese food? Sushi and sashimi.

The students spoke English well, and at the end of the interview presented me with a thank-you gift of intricately folded paper. I asked for photos with them in return.

We had two hours at the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and the nearby Komachi Street. I didn’t climb the 60 steps to the shrine again this year, but took the opportunity to explore the grounds and sketch. Japanese families bring their children to the shrine at ages 3, 5 and 7 – dressed in traditional finery.

Then I went off to shop. It was fun to wander down the street, but there really wasn’t anything I needed or wanted. I perused the beautiful Japanese umbrellas, but after buying three of them last year, I moved along. I had thought I would sit and have a Kamakura beer, but didn’t find a good place. The street was crowded with school children (all buying ice cream) and young tourists who rented kimonos to wear for the day.

Once again the Welcome Home banner was out as I returned. It started sprinkling just as we were about to leave Yokohama. That didn’t deter the crowd that gathered at the terminal to see us sail away. I missed the send-off, as my travel agency host had invited to dinner at Canaletto, the specialty Italian restaurant on board. Fellow passenger Joyce got a great photo of the Yokohama skyline as we were leaving.