Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tokyo day 5

Up and off this morning. While Kami and Mark went to breakfast, I took a shower, and Kami and I were out of the door by 10 A.M. We were off to see Big Buddha this morning, and it’s about a 90 minute train ride out of Tokyo.

Its about a 10 minute walk to the nearest Metro station from our hotel, and you can reach pretty much anywhere in the city from where we are. Although there's not much around us apart from Embassies and offices, the hotel really is faultless and certainly lives up to, if not surpasses, its 5* rating.

Our 5* hotel—amazing service.

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Walking through the metro station was different today. In fact, we were shocked—couldn't believe our eyes—when we sawvsomething we had never seen before in our lives in Tokyo! –An empty plastic bottle right in the middle of the hallway in the metro station! This was unheard of! I joked with Kami that there must be litter fairies in Tokyo—as clean as it is, you never actually see anyone cleaning up! I would have loved to have found a place and just watched to see how long it was before it got cleaned up!

We took the metro to Shibuya and then a train out to Yokahama. This route took us right past the apartment that Kami lived in when she was out here going to school. It was a good half hour out of the city. We changed trains at Yokahama and took the train out to Kamakura, the location of the Big Buddha.

As we changed trains, I noticed workmen digging at the side of the platform. There were two men actually doing the work digging the hole, 3 men watching them, and then three more men watching for trains coming! Safety is HUGE in Japan—I’ve never seen as many signs and safety people anywhere else in the world. If you go past any road construction, at every entrance there's a guy that stands there in a blue boiler suite and a hard hard with an illuminated red wand in his hand and sporting a flashing red LED waistcoat. these guys are everywhere and even stand next to the construction at night when no one’s working!

No rush!                Workmen watching me and safety men!                         Strange cell phone tower outside the station

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As we pulled into Kamakura station there was a really cute hotel that backed onto the train lines. You’d think they would re-paint their advertising sign, though! I think this was the first “scruffy” thing I’d seen in Tokyo. As I said above, everything is spotlessly clean—you don't even seen a dirty car on the roads out here—EVERY single car is clean! So the sign below kind of surprised me.

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The town of Kamakura itself looked like a small seaside town like ones you’d see in the UK. A few of the streets had banners and flags (hung on everyone's doors). There were tourist shops selling souvenirs, and you could tell there were lots of people just here for the day, as there were tourist coaches everywhere.

We took the city bus to the area where the Big Buddha was. It wasn't far—probably two miles at the most—but the traffic was chaos due to the volume of tourists.You could tell that the businesses around had seen a great opportunity to make money from everyone visiting the village as there were ice cream stores, crepe stalls, and ever more souvenir shops.

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They weren't lying when they said it was “Big” Buddha. It was so large you were able to go inside and look around! It was made of cast stone and had in the nearer past been reinforced with a plastic compound about the neck and some steel supports at the base.

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There was another temple about 10 minutes down the street—temples are everywhere here, and the grounds are always well manicured and nice to see along with the structures. Unfortunately, they don't always allow pictures to be taken inside. We wandered down through the little street, waiting for the local train to move by before going over the rail crossing.

The temple grounds were great, but it was ever so busy. Kami has been here four times previously and said she had never seen it as busy! Kami did the fortune telling with the piece of paper again (Omikuji) but got “Excellent fortune” this time :)

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The town of Kamakura is, in fact, a “seaside” town. It was right on the coast, and for the first time ever, I saw the West coast of the Pacific Ocean!

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After looking around the temple and the grounds for half and hour, we headed down to the beach and walked back to the town itself instead of taking the local bus. Not only have the people in the village realised the potential of how much money can be made in the village, but it also looks like some of the beach areas have been split up into plots and sold for development since there were at least seven or eight huge bar/restaurants being built directly on the beach.

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Earlier, while up in the temple gardens, we saw these huge eagle-type birds swooping around. There were a couple of food vendors in the temple grounds and an outdoor patio area. The birds turned out to be Kites! There were signs all over warning of the danger!

Warning!                                                                           Rhubarb!              Ravens were everywhere too

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We stopped by a local chain restaurant called Saizeriya that Kami has eaten at before and had a bite to eat for lunch before carrying on and taking our time wandering up one of the main shopping streets in the town, which eventually led to yet another really nice temple. I'd seen some chains hanging down off some buildings since I’d been in Tokyo, and I saw one again today, only this time, I was able to figure out what it was. The chain-like thing hung down from one of the gutters of a store, and as we got right up to it, I was able to see that the chain was, in fact, a line of small metal cups hanging down in a line, each connected to the other one, and it was, in fact, a drainpipe for the water to flow down! It moved though, and each cup had a hole in the bottom for the water to run down through to a grate in the floor!

Unusual but cool drainpipes with little funnel cups!                           Police delivery bike!

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We took a look around the other temple before heading back to the train station, again down a crowded tourist street that had food, drink, and souvenirs.

The street to the temple we walked up       

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We took the train back to the hotel and arrived back around seven. My feet were killing me from the last few days’ walking. We must have walked a good seven or eight miles today alone! We both had a great day, though. Mark was working tonight giving one of his talks and called us around 7:30 as he was on his way back to the hotel. Mark was shattered, so Kami decided to head back out to Shibuya on the metro and had the most amazing all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ—unlimited amounts of meet, corn, sweet potatoes and soft drinks—and everything was brought to our table raw for us to cook on the grill in front of us.

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Full album of pictures from today at the link below:

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