Thursday, August 7, 2008

Getting around

What a day!

Today was Train Day – everyone who is new on base is required to take a one-day train trip to somewhere outside Yokosuka city. Josh and I attended a couple of hours’ worth of classes this morning (how to buy a ticket at Japanese station, ideas on where to go, odd stations to look out for) and then stopped at a realty office before hitting the trains. More on the house hunt later.

First of all, can you guess what kind of shirt I was wearing?

Yeah. Ouch. I was wearing sunscreen, but apparently not enough - it was in the 90s and incredibly humid all day. Worth it though.

We rode the train to Kamakura, about twenty minutes away from Yokosuka on the JR train line. The station (eki) was easy to navigate once we found it – Yokosuka eki wa dokodesu ka? – and was the quietest, cleanest train I’ve ever ridden. Josh and I stopped in for some of the best sushi ever –AGAIN!- before walking to the Tsurugaoka-Hachimangu shrine. The Shinto shrine was created by the Minamoto clan in 1063, to honor the god of war who allowed Minamoto Yoritomo to become Japan’s first Shogun.

That was incredible, I have to say. How about the size of those leaves?! It was hot hot HOT out there though, so we headed back to the train to Hase eki, then walked to the Daibutsu, the Great Buddha of Kamakura. It is the second largest bronze Buddha in all of Japan at 13.3 meters high and has been around for almost 700 years. Buddhism and Shintoism are the two major religions here, and most people practice a little of both.

He's much bigger than the photos can show. Here we are with the Buddha, and lighting incense while setting good intentions for our time here in Japan.

The Buddha usually stays sitting there in the courtyard, but just in case he decides to take a little stretch, there are slippers nearby to fit him.

It was so amazing to be in the presence of something so majestic, so peaceful, and so old. I really like being in a country where the major religious image is one of peace and meditation, where introspection and self-discipline are so highly valued. You must visit the Daibutsu some day.

The house hunt was a story in itself; stay tuned! Tomorrow we take our written driving exam and get ready to learn to drive on the left, with the steering wheel on the right side of the car. Until we get that straight, we’ll keep on riding those trains.


Melanie said...

You are so good at blogging!! I was scrolling down only enough to read since I didn't want to spoil it, so it was so neat how you described things and then surprise, a picture. The slipper thing is so funny. So sweet of them though. What a great trip. Learning to drive now, yeah! I added you on skype. I forget what my name is!! Don't know how to find it! Hope to talk soon.
Love, Mel

Bob said...

Hi Em,
Sounds like you guys had a lot of fun out in the country! I can't wait to see it for myself. I promise to stay within the law too.
Can you get us one of those Buddas?
I look forward to talking to you soon.
Love, Dad

EmilySullins said...

Thanks for commenting, you guys!

Everybody who comes to visit us will get a chance to meet the Daibutsu - Kamakura is less than 30 minutes away by train, at about $4pp each way.

clembo said...

Love the pics! Thanks so much for keeping us posted.

Love you!