hachimangu shrine

New Adventures!!

So in case anyone has been following my adventures, here is an update!! Today, after almost a week of being here, I finally left the Navy base. I have been so busy trying to set up our place, and doing other minute things, I haven’t had a chance to do much. That being said, one of the big things I have had to do, is take a week-long class here on base, the first part being rules and regulations of the base, and the second being an introduction to Japanese culture. So!! Today, as a part of our Japanese culture class, we got to take a field trip to Kamakura, about 30 minutes away on train. What an experience!! 

So Kamakura was the first capitol of Japan, where the first Shogun settled himself, and there is this big beautiful Shinto Shrine that we got to tour, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Anyway, so this morning, I got to experience being on a Japanese train, seriously no biggie, there was English signs in most places, and with a small railway map that we were given it was relatively easy. Also, Japanese trains, are always on time, no joke. Then after we got to Kamakura from Yokosuka we were told to break for lunch, before meeting back for a small historical tour of Kamakura. So my group of ladies and myself decided to be adventurous and went to a small restaurant and tried okonomiyaki for the first time. It was so cool to watch!! And it was funny, people say that you don’t have to take your shoes everywhere, but of course the first restaurant I go to in Japan, makes us take off our shoes! Hahaha! It was kinda cool! They had a bunch of little cubbies where you would put your shoes and take the croc-like sandals in their place. Then you would take the wooden number corresponding to the cubby and that would lock it, leaving your shoes safe! Cool!! So, I have read of okonomiyaki from manga (yes, yes, weeb, I know) and let me tell you, it’s kinda cool. You choose from the menu and that tells you what ingredients you want (I chose pork and curry) and then they bring out bowls filled with batter, your ingredients, and some seasonings. Then they proceed to mix it all up and then they put it on the hot mini hibachi-like grill in the middle of the table and make it into a small round little pancake (because that’s what it is, a Japanese pancake. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s not sweet). I’m pretty sure that we are actually supposed to do this all ourselves, but we were OBVIOUSLY clueless so the waitress helped us out lmao. Also we all tried the melon soda, let me tell you, it was delicious. 

Ok! So after that we wandered a bit before going to the meeting place for our tour, and guess what?!?!?! I found the cutest little Hayao Miyazaki dedicated store!! They had all of the cutest stuff, from Totoro, to Kiki’s Delivery Service, some Princess Monoke, and even some Ponyo. There were things from day planners, to kitchen towels, and chop sticks, and phone charms ( I bought a super cute one!), to tea cups, and all sorts of other really neat stuff! I didn’t take enough money with me to buy the entire store, and I’m kicking myself for it. Also, like a true nerd, I was really the only one in my group that knew anything about Totoro so my friends didn’t understand why I spazzed out like I did when I realized what we had stumbled upon.

After that, we went to meet our tour guide, her name was Keiko and she was very soft spoken. She stopped us along the way to the actual Shrine to tell us a little of the rich history of Kamakura and even a little about their two major religions, Shinto and Buddhism. When we got to the Hachimangu Shrine grounds, it was beautiful, it was as if there was a line between the modern world and the historic one. There were so many people going to the shrine to give their prayers and wishes to the god of the shrine. As we walked and made our way closer to the shrine itself, we saw some young women in beautiful yukatas (I want desperately to wear/own one!) Ms. Keiko told us about the types of ceremonies, events, and festivals that they hold at the shrine, she even taught us how to purify ourselves and how to properly pray at a Shinto shrine. After we went up the stairs and into the shrine, she then told us a little about their amulets, wishes, and fortunes. Once she was done with her tour she let us go to find our own way back to the train and back on base. Yikes! But really, it wasn’t so bad. So long as you paid attention, and were willing to get a little lost, everything was fine. So after we were let go, my little group and myself went around the shrine grounds and took some pictures and just soaked it all in before heading back. On our way back we decided that it was hot and we wanted a cool treat. Milk and green tea swirled ice cream. SO YUMMY!! It was so delicious!! I’m such a fan of green tea ice cream, and to have it around so readily makes me so super happy! Soon after that, and some more exploring, we called it a day and went back home. Seriously, some attention here and there and a map of the train lines, and it’s super easy!! Tomorrow is my last day before this class is up, and I get to move into our new apartment on Tuesday. I’m so excited!! This hotel is much better than our last one, but I’m so ready to have our own place again, plus I want my cat back. I took pictures and I’ll post them up later if you guys want!! Stay tuned, more to follow soon enough, I’m sure!!  

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Next we went to Tsurugaoka Hacjimangu, a really beautiful Shintō shrine. This shrine is very famous and is located in the center of Kamakura. The shrine was established by Minamoto Yoriyoshi (988-1075) in 1051.
I was super excited because I was able to watch a Shintō wedding!! The ceremony was happening on a stage like structure infront of the large staircase that lead up to the main building of the shrine. I have done two projects relating to traditional Japanese wedding, so I am super happy that I was able to see a small part of one! (My host mom was super surprised when I was able to name the bride’s headdress, a watabōshi, and certain parts of the ceremony.😄)
The second picture is of my host sister Minami, age 14 (about to be 15), putting up an ema which is a wooden board that people write their wishes and prayers for the gods to read. Right now Minami is preparing and trying to decide which high school she wants to go to, so her prayer was about that.
My host father bought me a beautiful charm (which I attached to my phonecase). From what I understand it is supposed to grant my dreams. Yay〜