Friday, January 23, 2009

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine [Kamakura, Japan]

We have had a busy week... and it's been Fun!

Last Friday Kath & I went on a trip. We went with the Japanese American Society (Japanese who would like to make Friendships and Talk with Americans who want the same thing), we went to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. (Information on this shrine was taken from Winki as i did not feel like typing it all out myself. :) )

This shrine, which used to be also a Buddhist temple and far bigger than today, was originally built in 1063 in Zaimokuza where tiny Moto Hachiman now stands.
Minamoto no Yoritomo, the founder of the Kamakura shogunate, moved it to its present location in 1191 and invited Hachiman, to reside in the new location too to guard his government. Both the shrine and the city were built with Feng Shui in mind. In spite of all the changes the shrine has gone through over the years, in this respect Yoritomo's design is still basically intact.

Walking from the beach toward the shrine one passes through three torii, or Shinto gates, called respectively Ichi no Torii (first gate), Ni no Torii (second gate) and San no Torii (third gate).
Between the second and third torii, begins the dankazura, a raised pathway flanked by cherry trees.

This is the 2nd gate (the 1st gate is located at the water). The streets are lines with Cherry Blossom tree's. I can not wait to visit this shrine during the spring when they are in bloom!

The walkway between the 2nd and 3rd gate was not only lines with Cherry Tree's but also lanterns for the New Year Celebration.

Approaching the 1st gate (about to enter the Shrine area.)
After Entering the Shrine, we washed and cleaned our hands and mouths.
This was interesting! :)

A 1st look........

This is where your fortune is tied.
I did buy a Fortune ticket (yes, they had English Translation)... It was a Good Fortune! :) I was told that i don't have to tie... i could keep it. So, i chose to keep it. :)

This is a picture of these HUGE SAKE Barrels. This is a Gift to the gods said one of our Japanese Friends. I wish i had a person standing there, so... you could see this was as tall as a 2~3 story building!

Walking up the Very Tall Stairs....
Before i went inside, I asked how to properly pray and enter.
I was told about clapping and bowing and praying. They wanted me to follow them as they did it.... As a Christian i was a bit on the uncomfortable side 'praying' at a Shrine... but i prayed this prayer:
"Dear God, Please forgive me if this is wrong, and i just wanted to learn more about the Japanese Culture... in Jesus name, Amen!"... LOL!

I dont think i did anything wrong, especially because i was praying to My God! :)

A view from the top. You can Clearly see the 1st and 2nd Gates... it was not clear enough to see the 3rd gate.

This tree on the grounds of the shrine (before you climb the stairs)... is over 1,000 yrs old. This is why it has a 'rope' around it.
I was told that the tree was young at only 200 yrs old when they 1st moved to this location.

Even though it's WINTER here and cold... we still have blooms all around!
This is a Chinese Plum Tree i was told... Beautiful!

After we toured the shrine we took a small garden tour, (on the grounds). It was just stunning!

In the garden were some just amazing flowers! They were all the same, just different colors. The flowers were being protected from the wind and rain by little umbrella's and tents. :)
All the rocks are from China as well... and are 'art'. (i was told)

As a side note: When visiting this Shrine as with MOST Japanese places there is NO Paper Towels or ways to dry your hands.
I was OK and prepared for this.
What i was not aware of was the lack of TP. There was NO TP!
And... I did not know this... It's SOLD outside the Bathroom for 100Yen... in a VENDING MACHINE!
Yup! Good thing it was #1......... LMAO!!!!!!!!!
Next time i will buy a 'square' before attending the restroom.
Good news is ... i was not the only one who was shocked by this. All the ladies in our group were too!!! LOL!

When we were done we went to a small place for lunch. This place was literally a Hole in the Wall (or building!)... It was VERY Cozy, and 'Japanese'.
I had a wonderful lunch, and visit with my new found friends.

(i did not take any pictures inside... as i thought it would be rude... also, it was very small... and there was just NO room!)

After the lunch we headed DIRECTLY to a tea/coffee house. It was small as well... but sat
a few more tables than the lunch spot. It was very English, and i loved it! Relaxing to say the very least! Now i know why Lunch (and dinner) in Japan can be SO Small and no one cares... it's because they Enjoy the After Dinner (or lunch) tea/coffee/drinks. It just finished the 'meal' wonderfully! I'll never go back to my American ways (when i am out and about w/ out my 2 crazy kids).

Here is a picture of the Tables we took up. Also... there was about 3~4 more tables in this small quaint place.
For 500Y per person... for a WONDERFUL cup of Coffee w/ Sugar and the Thickest Cream EVER... So Wonderful!

During this entire time... Ethan took over!
He took a 1/2 day on Friday and picked Olivia and Evan both up from school.
After school he took them to the mini mart for a Fun Snack.
He said they spent the rest of the time after school until i got home about 4:05 pm outside climbing the trees in my front yard.
Here is what i walked up and saw....

My baby in the TOP of the tree! omg! (she is in no way a monkey, so i thought!)

and ..............

Evan too! And ... that's no a Little Bush! LOL It's a nice size tree. haha
They had a blast w/ Daddy.

After i got home and Ethan had to HURRY and get ready for his Event.
It was a CPO Event... and so, no guests... which means no Me... :):) i was MORE than Thrilled to stay home and Veg! :)

This is him all dressed up (I'm holding his 'cap'... and yes... he should be wearing it. Also ... if your wondering why he is not wearing GOLD... it's because of his Broken Service... and Lack of Years in the Navy. (He is still a young-en!)