2018 Spring Nora Walsh-Battle Temple Japan Temple Semester

passing the time by the pacific

With Tokyo’s mild weather and all-around urban-ness, it’s easy to forget the city is only an hour or so away from the beaches of Kanagawa, even less for those living in the Musashi-Kosugi dorm. And I did forget, until a few days ago when I finally bothered to Google it and realized what I’d been missing out on. Childhood trips to the Jersey Shore instilled a love for the beach in me and from what I’d been told, the Pacific is by far superior to the Atlantic.

So on Thursday, I (with Caroline, as always) set out the same as I would for a day of class but in the opposite direction. With every station passed, the surroundings gradually became more green and less populated. Our first stop was in north Kamakura at a secluded temple with beautiful cedar forests and spiraling paths leading up into the trees.

From there it was on to the Kamakura main station and Komachi shopping street. Though there was no sea smell yet, the vibes were on par with those you’d find in Wildwood or Seaside Heights. Cheap flip flops and sarongs abounded at street stalls, and soft serve, beer, and fried snacks were available every few feet. We tried to keep it traditional and opted for more Japanese offerings.

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Shirasu, also known as jiyaku outside of Kamakura, are the tiny fish you might be able to make out amongst the potatoes. They can be found in a lot of conbini bentos but on Komachi street they were everywhere. With a cool, salty taste, they paired perfectly with the starchy potatoes and I would urge any picky eaters to risk it for the experience.

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After the above daifuku (strawberry resting on mocha, green tea flavored in this case) and a few other undocumented snacks, we were on our way to the Great Buddha of Kamakura.

The second tallest Buddha in Japan, with the first in Kansai region, the Kamakura Buddha had been on my to-do list as soon as I knew I would be in Japan so I’m glad I managed to see it. And at the perfect time, as there weren’t too many tourists around to interrupt my shots. The statue really seemed to radiate calmness, up on its pedestal against the trees. Being there at golden hour was also fantastic as it really brought up the oxidized blue of the bronze.

Then, finally, it was time for the beach. Specifically, Yuigihama Beach, fifteen minutes from the Great Buddha. With the sun setting, it was getting cold and most people were heading out as we headed in. Luckily, years of braving perpetually icy east coast waters had fortified this and we were the last on the beach as the sun went down.

Unfortunately, we didn’t bring bathing suits but maybe on a return trip we’ll take a dip. Either way, I don’t know how I’ll ever be happy in the Atlantic again after this. The water was so cool, clear, and absolutely lacking the fishiness that clings to my hair even if I don’t get it wet.

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I was starting to feel a little somber about not seeing Kyoto/Nara or Okinawa while in Japan but this trip to Kamakura just about made up for that. Hopefully, someday I’ll make it back here and experience the other locations for comparison!

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