Yesterday we bought tickets to Kamakura which is a popular sea side resort just out side Tokyo not only is it by the sea but also has lots of shrines. It is very popular at weekends we are hoping that it won’t be mid week in the autumn. We left the hotel fairly early, 08:45, and launched ourselves into the weekday rush hour, at Tokyo station we asked where we should get the train, it turned out to be the Narita express train but in the other direction on a local slower train. The train was packed when we got on but after two stops we got a seat and settled in for the ride which would take 57 minutes. On the way we travelled for quite some time the number of parallel rail tracks was at times 12. We never seemed to to be in the country side despite arriving at Yokohama which is the second largest city in Japan.
Most Japanese commuters either have their nose in a book or their mobile phone, if they are not asleep, on the train to Kamakura we were sat opposite a guy with two iPhone fives and a standard Japanese flip out phone. We passed through a lot of suburbs mainly apartment buildings, but some houses too, many of them had metal framed parking facilities where the cars are parked automatically. You just drive the car in a slot at the bottom and the building does the rest moving the car to a free slot somewhere.
Helen had a fag while I figured out where to go and what to do. There were some rickshaws outside the station but Helen made it clear we would not be trying them out. The obvious thing to do was to jump on the local electric train to Hase stain then walk the hiking route back via the shrines, including a giant Buddha. At the station we picked up a map and walked down to Yuigahama beach where I picked up a shell which was different to the ones you see in Europe, then it started to rain so we jumped into a Hawaii themed coffee ship for coffee and a freshly made doughnut. By the time we had finished the rain had stopped but it looked like we might get some showers layer too.
Shrine one was the Hase-dera 200yen paid for work the Suica cards, intetesting shrine seemed to be from Shinto from the decoration. There were warning signs about the class of the red kites, I spotted red and black ones. Next major one was the Buddhist shrine with the giant Buddha. I paid the 20 yen to go inside which was a bit of a squeeze and you had to watch you head, being taller than most people found here I had to be especially careful. Next we hit the hiking trail through the woods which was interesting we heard lots of birds but failed to identify anything new. The trail took about an hour and was very steep at times but the step were well maintained, almost everyone we passed greeted us with a konnichiwa. Eventually we hit a metal road and then the shrines started again first was a water one where you could wad money intake hope of making making from it. We ate our grapes we had with us while a brief shower passed through.
Back in a town at the end of the trail, we went through a tunnel the other side was a Starbucks, so we stopped for coffee and lunch all the sandwiches had meat in them so it was cinnamon buns all round, there is nothing like cake for lunch. Interestingly some one was employed to find tables for you which was nice but we had already endured half the queue only to be sat down so I could then join the queue again!
We headed into town and had a wander down a shopping street, we came across a 100 yen shop we bought some more head phones and Helen got a portable ashtray on a key ring. Even in Japan their is a market for pound shops. We had a look at a general grocers which had every type of vegetable and fish you could imagine, mostly dead but quite a lot still living.
Back at the station we caught a train back to Tokyo station. The trains all have seats running down the sides facing in, except in green class (first class in Japan) where they face the length of the train. Most commuters spend their time in the seats half asleep, at first I thought it was because they work or study hard, but it turns out that the heaters in the carriages are under all the seats and they get very warm. Even Helen nearly fell asleep.
As we got into Tokyo proper we could not figure out where we were on the map, turns out we were on the wrong train, so we jumped off at Shinjuku and fessed up at the ticket office, whilst Helen tried to sneak out via the ticket barrier, I talked to the station employee who did a calculation on his calculator then waved us both through. It turns out we could get on our local line from Shinjuku which is the station where they employ people to squash the commuters in but much to my disappointment and Helen’s relief our train did not need any of that malarkey.
Back at the home station we looked for something local to eat, after looking around we saw a nice looking place trouble is the menu had no pictures and was in Japanese, a guy inside was beckoning us in so we asked if they did vegetarian food he said yes so we gave it a punt. We sat down and the waiter suggested he recommend what we eat, so we explained I eat fish and Helen did not and let them get on with it. The place had maps of France on the wall and bottles of wine so Fugu fish was probably not on the menu. When the food came I asked where we could get Black Jack comics (for Mr Pearce), and we got him to write it down, turns out we are close by.
When the food arrived, a green salad was followed by a sort of potato salad with egg in it which had a hint of Japanese spice about it. Helen commented that it was the best food she had eaten all week and we had only had the starter. Next came raw fish for me it had a sort of soy sauce with possibly vinegar and was a bit spicy, it went down a treat, and not something I would have chosen myself. The place is called Zappa should you be passing it is an excellent place to eat. Next stop back to the hotel for another early night after a long day on out feet, and with so much to do in on the next two days.