Kami Watch Over Me (Japan Day 5 – Kamakura)

Wednesday, Oct 26 2022 (Day 5)

Table of Contents

ට  Day 0 – Thursday, Oct 20 2022 to Friday Oct 21 2022 – Flight from Edmonton to Tokyo
ට  Day 1 – Saturday, Oct 22 2022 – Tokyo, Saitama, Ikebukuro
ට  Day 2 – Sunday, Oct 23 2022 – Autumn Reitaisai 9, Shinjuku
ට  Day 3 – Monday, Oct 24 2022 – Akihabara
ට  Day 4 – Tuesday, Oct 25 2022 – Hakone
ට  Day 5 – Wednesday, Oct 26 2022 – Kamakura, Enoshima Island (You are here)

I woke up bright and early this morning to do some work (I even attended our daily team meeting, which is 3am Japan time..) and then write my daily blog, before packing up and getting ready to leave Hakone. Before I did so however, there was the hotel breakfast that I had paid an extra $10 for during booking. It was supposedly a Japanese-style buffet, and I eat a lot so I was looking forward to being a loss leader for the hotel on this meal. The buffet spread looked like this:

Yum. I made two circuits and basically ate one of nearly everything there was. I appreciated that there were labels on the food bowls so I more or less had an inkling of what was being sacrificed to make me happy. My meal (and two servings, but I had already completed the first one by this point) ended up being about this much. Definitely worth the $10 extra.

The other notable comment I had about the place was that they charged me an onsen tax on the way out, of 150 yen or so, on top of the hotel bill that I had already prepaid for. This wasn’t actually contingent on using the onsen, just staying there, so why not just put that into the fee up front? Hidden costs are so stupid and anti-consumer (but a lot of things that Japan does are anti-consumer so that’s par for the course I suppose). There was no shuttle bus available during checkout (checkout was at 10am but the shuttle buses only came at 9:20, 9:40, 10:20, 10:40…) so I hoofed it one last time, downhill and across three rivers with my bags in tow as I said goodbye to the little town of Hakone.

Journey to Enoshima

My destination today was the Enoshima Island area in Fujisawa, and then my new lodging in Kamakura, not actually all that far away from Hakone. It was about an hour and a half worth of train rides from Hakone-Yumoto station, but a good chunk of that was just waiting for infrequent trains as well. First, I took the local Hakone Tozan Railway train back to Odawara, the way I had come from yesterday. This time I needed to go up the stairs and change platforms, so I could finally see what the rest of Odawara station looked like.

I took the Ueno-Tokyo branch of the Tokaidō Line from there and rode it to Fujisawa Station:

Where I was supposed to transfer to the Enoshima Electric Railway line. I couldn’t find that line at first, until a friendly train attendant directed me to go to a specific staircase leading up from the end of the railway platform, and not the regular staircase that I was standing next to where all the other transferring passengers seemed to be headed to.

The Enoshima Electric Railway station was in a separate building, so I had to swipe out of the ticketing gate, walk through the public part of the station lobby, and follow the signs pointing me across an elevated walkway to the other building in question.

Pretty station. A bit weird though, since there’s only one set of tracks that led into it and it was right in the middle of the room, but one could walk either direction around the track end barrier. Though the train doors were only opened on the left side when I arrived here and the train was about to leave, so some other passenger and I made a run for it and were able to get on just in time.

This Enoshima Electric Railway train was really interesting as trains go. It was smaller, and had large windows, as well as a conductor at the back door who would step out at each station, look down the outside of the train toward the front, wave a white gloved hand at (assumedly) the driver when it was safe to go, and then blow a whistle before stepping in to the rear car’s driver compartment himself and closing that door shut. Only then did the train start moving.

The train tracks also ran right up against people’s backyards and houses in some places, right along the middle of the roads in other places, and the train stations themselves were little platforms open to the elements and with little automated ticket booths. In many places, to save space, there was only one single railway track that both the incoming and outgoing trains shared and took turns using, and even some of the stations along the route, but not all, only featured one train track instead of two.

Enoshima and area

Once I arrived at Enoshima, I found a quaint shopping street leading from there to the seaside. As far as I could tell this was the “main” shopping street in the area as well. It had a very chill atmosphere, though the food prices seemed to be a little on the high side. All the vending machine prices were really cheap for some reason though, even cheaper than in Tokyo. Tokyo’s vending machine prices tended to be around the 110-120-150-160 yen range, whereas Hakone’s made been 150-160-200 yen per bottle. Kamakura on the other hand had most of its vending machine drinks on sale for 100 yen, at least in the areas that I visited..

Anyway, I was about four hours early for check-in at this point, so I wasn’t too perturbed when I found out that I couldn’t actually cut across east and north from Enoshima Station to reach my ryokan for the day, which was located between Enoshima Station and the next one along the route, Koshigoe Station. That was fine by me though, since I wanted to explore the entire area on foot anyway, so I followed the market street southwest to the coastline, and then cut east following the coastline road, and eventually north and east again to reach my inn.

I’ll skip pictures of the ryokan for now so that I can coordinate them all nearer the end of this post, however I safely reached my ryokan at this point and introduced myself before leaving my bags with them. This one was a bit more of a challenge because the owner lady didn’t speak English at all, and her daughter (I think) only spoke a few words, but between that and my broken Japanese I was able to understand and coordinate what was needed. Many of the signage in the inn included English translations though, though most were also obviously from Google Translate or something similar. Anyway, I left my bags and jacket with them, and they said that they’d bring them up to my room once it was ready, so armed with just my sling bag, I left to explore the town again.

I headed back toward that first street that I had used from Enoshima Station to reach the coast, eventually managing to find a shortcut path that cut through some residential areas. I saw this interesting building that was an island in the middle of a roundabout road that completely encircled it:

It looks like an overturned van or car from afar/thumbnail view, doesn’t it? Next to it was a plot of gravel that was labelled Shuhanaminami Park and had one single rusted playground slide on it:

And then the road opened back up into that earlier shopping alley, Subana-doori or Subana Street, where there was an interesting looking food cart at the intersection of my path and the street:

The van stall was called Kushi Mochi, and its owner recommended the basic miso mochi to me. I bought one for 200 yen and started to nibble upon it. It was sweet and delicious and exactly what it sounded like — miso baked into a mochi form. I sat down on a nearby bench and watched the people walk by as I ate.

It did make me rather thirsty though, so I also picked up a drink from the 100 yen vending machine there. It was the bottle in the top right down in the picture, called Kirin Amino Supli C or something like that, and it was basically more berry juice.

I really liked the architecture of this area, and the shops here were obviously family owned and operated — most of the buildings had upstairs levels where the shopkeeper most likely lived.

To Enoshima Island

Down at the end of Subana Street, there were signs pointing to a short tunnel that itself led to a causeway linking the mainland with Enoshima Island just off the coast. I followed the steady flow of people walking along this single road, occasionally stopping to take pictures of a certain famous mountain that was kind enough to make an appearance in the background on this fine day. It was my first time seeing Mount Fuji.

There were plenty of people snapping photographs throughout this entire Enoshima Island trip, and I got quite a good number of additions to my collection of “photographs of people taking photographs”, especially during the later trip and later on in the evening. For the most part I’ve skipped actually using these photos here in this blog post though, unless they were also actually the best photo for the occasion.

Enoshima Jinja

There were a couple of side roads, but by and large the causeway led into a single road lined with little shops that stretched all the way to the foot of Enoshima Jinja, or Enoshima Temple.

There was a side room here advertising Enoshima Pay Escalators, where one could pay a blanket 500 yen fee (250 for children) to then be able to use a number of short escalators cut into the side of the mountain while making one’s way up and around the shrine and the surrounding attractions around it, although the stairs still had to be used on the way down. It was definitely helpful for people, especially the elderly or in need, to be able to get up to the shrine to offer their prayers, but a shower thought about paying for convenience came unbidden to my mind, quickly followed by a musing about why so many Japanese and Korean mobile games and MMOs have gacha loot boxes and pay to win mechanics and how that was similar to these pay escalators, and that’s all I could think of from then on whenever I saw one of the escalators. If they were truly doing it as a charitable service and not a business venture, after all, it would be free, at least for those in need. But they were not.

Walking the way up, I stopped to pet this statue on the knee for good luck as many others seemed to be doing:

And then reached this thing:

This is the chōzuya/temizuya, a water basin where one is supposed to perform chozu, a cleansing ritual involving one’s hands and mouth, from. Due to covid though, there were no ladles here, just bamboo poles that were streaming out water that I could put my hands underneath and wash them from.

Just past that was the main shrine itself, where I joined the line of visitors to put in a coin and make a silent prayer after doing the customary bow-bow-clap-clap-bow.

To the right of the shrine was a large circular structure one could step through, this was called the chinowa, and the ritual here was to step through it three times in order to mentally and physically cleanse oneself. I think. The structure came with a set of instructions on how to use them, so I did so myself, after watching to see how others were doing it.

To the left of the main shrine were a whole host of shrine maidens selling talismans, and unmanned tables with 200 yen fortune prayers and self-serve donation boxes to put the yen into. I didn’t buy any of these as it didn’t feel right. A thought came to mind that I am a chronicler, and my role was to watch and document, and not to participate, so I followed that thought here. There were also some smaller shrines past the shrine maidens that a few people stopped to pray to.

There was a board full of valentine/love-themed wooden plaques, or ema, hung up on them, and of course I documented this:

Stairs then led away from the main Enoshima Jinja, bringing visitors further up into the mountainside toward a terrace called the Samuel Cocking Garden. As part of an ongoing autumn event, this garden had a ton of candles set in glass bottles all over the place, and they lit them up at 5pm or so once the sun set to set the garden awash in diffused glowing light. I think. I didn’t actually stick around for this since it was only around 2pm when I arrived and my phone battery was low. Also once the candle lights were lit, the free admission period ended and one then had to pay 500 yen to leave the area. I was only here in Kamakura for one day and had a couple more things I wanted to see, so I walked around and took a few pictures of the garden in the day time.

I also passed by this “Piece Wish Peace Program” mural with a bunch of messages written/carved into tiles and formed into a mosaic there, so I also catalogued this for future historians:

The sixth wall was blank.

I ended up by the tall building in the last picture above, the Enoshima Sea Candle. There was an entrance fee to that so I didn’t go in, and an expensive sweets cafe nearby as well that I didn’t fancy, but this stall outside it caught my eye:

I requested the Enoshima Boiled Whitebait Curry Bread, intending to pay the 400 yen for it, but the clerk somehow gave me that and the Cinnamon Churros as well and demanded 700 yen for the both of them. I shrugged and paid it as I hadn’t actually had churros either, although I am not a fan of cinnamon in general.

The bread was extremely delicious though. It was a little crispy around the outside, and on the inside was curry and fish, mixed together in a way that tasted like I was eating Indian food. Only about half the bread was filled with the fish though, so the stall had unfortunately cheapened out on it, but what was there was delicious.

I sat down on a bench and watched children jumping and bouncing on a pair of curved rubbery/trampoline like things that looked vaguely obscene as they wobbled up and down:

And watched people taking (before I myself took) more Mount Fuji pictures from up here:

This was the end of the free section of the gardens though, so I went back down. There were other attractions in this area like some caves that I could have explored, but my phone was nearly dead and it was time to check in as well, so I headed back down and out. I did finally see the red leaves of momiji in full bloom though.

Or.. leaf?

I walked back across the causeway and took lots of pictures of people taking pictures along the way, along with a few of my own regular photos of the ocean and the many beaches lining the coast.

Evening Walk

Once I had rested up and recharged my phone, I left the ryokan I was in and went the other way, first to the coast and then east away from the Enoshima area. I was looking for a particular famous junction area from anime. But first, I crossed many small roads and admired the architecture, and then got down to the beach to watch the sunset and got lots of sand in my shoes that I had to shake and empty out.

I continued further east though, as I was looking for a particular section of road and a specific intersection made famous by (apparently, I haven’t watched it) the Slam Dunk anime, and also the Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club, which I have watched. The OP song doesn’t directly showcase the intersection, though it does show a lot of the other scenery around the area — the fences, the cycling path, the train, etc, all of which I more or less recognized. The anime itself did showcase the specific intersection I was looking for at the bottom of the hill, though. I think.

The anime wasn’t that good, but I remembered being smitten by the beauty of the Kamakura area when I first watched it, which was specifically the reason for me to make my trip down here. And there were a ton of people around here taking photographs too, plus students that had just left their high school a little further up the road. Somewhere up this way, although I didn’t actually go looking for it.

Most strikingly, there was a single-track train station here too, Kamakurakōkō-Mae Station, which meant that trains had to coordinate taking turns coming in to the area from the previous station in either direction. There was even a handy electronic signboard displaying where the next trains were.

I also saw a pair of girls here wearing formal kimonos, the second place that I had seen people walking around in kimonos — I had not seen any during my four days in Tokyo, but had also seen a couple pairs of girls dressed in kimonos walking around in Hakone yesterday. Anyway, the longer the trains took the better, because the view here was indescribably pretty, as the single elevated train platform faced a two-lane road, a fence, and then the sea stretching out into the distance beyond that. And the burning orange hues that I witnessed during sunset, with the wind gently blowing through my hair, was amazing. Even the locals, adults and students and all, had their phones out and were taking pictures of Mother Nature’s colourful gift.

The pictures don’t do it justice. This was a gorgeous station and I highly recommend visiting this during sunset. I also noticed several people were taking photographs of the train as it came in as well, so here’s one with the sunset as the backdrop for reasons unknown.

Dinner and Enoshima at Night

While gorgeous, Kamakurakōkō-Mae Station was far from any decent food places, so I took the train two stops back west to Enoshima Station, zooming back past the entirety of the area that I had walked across today. I ended up back on the shopping street again:

Dinner was from a shop called Kinokuniya Shokudou, which was a weird name for me because I only knew Kinokuniya as a major bookstore, but anyway. They had fancy tablets at the tables that I used to order my meal from.

And I ordered the Bamboo Set Meal, which looked like this:

A rather pricey dinner (by my standards) at 1650 yen, but I was definitely craving more set meals after my yummy breakfast. The menu picture above had three set meals above in the top left page for 1500 yen (1650 after tax) — they’re named Pine Set Meal, Bamboo Set Meal, and Plum Set Meal respectively. That combination in respect to Japanese cuisine is briefly touched on at the bottom of the Wikipedia page on kaiseki, even though the prices were the same in this specific example.

After a rather satisfying dinner, I walked around a little bit more, enjoying the night view of the area, before finally heading home to my ryokan.

Kakiya Ryokan

The place I stayed in on this night was called Kakiya Ryokan. It was a building located on a narrow two lane street, through which train tracks ran right down the middle, disrupting traffic everytime it went through. There was generally not a lot of traffic, but there was no pavement either, so foot traffic yielded to vehicular traffic, which in turn yielded to the metal beast that came roaring by once every few minutes. Despite that, the train sounds could not be heard from within the inn itself. The inn also owned an affiliated restaurant across the street, where breakfast and dinner were served during specific hours to guests of the inn, and which was a normal restaurant serving the public outside of that.

The front door had a specific message that confused me at first:

“To the customer who went to a sea (the ocean). Please shower and wash all sand from your body before entering the hotel.”

Besides the translation, the problem was that there was nothing to wash with, and when I inquired about it, the girl I spoke to pointed to a wheel-based shoe cleaner machine outside that looked suspiciously like the ones I had seen in some Canadian buildings for cleaning snow off of one’s shoes when entering buildings in winter. That made no sense but I shrugged at it and moved on.

I was shown around the place, in particular how the shower/bathroom was shared by everyone staying at the two-storey inn, and so there was a signup sheet where guests had to reserve the use on the bathroom.

I also found this a little weird at first, but in an interesting way. There were separate toilets as well (well, one small room with a toilet bowl and sink for each gender), and I was shown to the “laundry room”, which was actually outdoors, in the side yard next to an external door from the building.

I had to turn on a faucet above the washing machine when I was setting the load cycle, and this suddenly brought back memories of old Singapore washing machines. The washer was free, and the dryer was also free but using it was supposed to cost 500 yen, made payable at the front desk. I used it at night when no one was there though, so I meant to pay the next morning during checkout, but it completely slipped my mind as well as no one was there for checkout either, and I was in a hurry so I ended up just dumping my keys in the key collection box and leaving, and I didn’t think twice about it until I was one prefecture over. Oops.

Anyway, the upstairs hallway looked like this:

And my room, which was at the end of that hallway and just out of view to the left, was named Kiku:

This was actually a really comfortable, warm, and clean room, the best one I had had up till this point in the trip. The blanket felt really luxurious too. The only downside was that someone (I’m guessing the previous guest) had left the hot water flask full of cold water, which I hadn’t realized, and I spilled some of it on the floor cushion and tatami mat when I went to pick it up.

The last footnote of the inn was in regards to the bathroom, when I finally went to use it. I got home at 6:30pm or so and noticed that no one had booked it (or anything) for that time slot, so I booked it and went to grab my clothes before heading in. All I had seen during the tour was the front area with a sink, and another message saying to shower before entering or something, a similar notice to the one posted on the front door.

I thought this just meant that if I was covered in phytoplankton, I could use the shower here to clean up before going to my room so as not to dirty it.

I finally realized what the signs actually meant though once I opened the secondary door, because there was a full-on hot bath in there:

It was practically a small, private bathhouse, with a mini pool of hot water that seemed to be running and circulating all day, and that I could sit in and submerge myself all the way to my neck. Now I understood why the room had to be booked off, and why there were warnings about using the shower before heading in — by and large they meant to shower and clean before heading into that pool, I think, and not the building in general (within reason anyway).

There were two blue floating mats covering the top of the pool to keep the heat in, but they could be slid aside for access to the pool itself, and I gladly went in there to soak for a bit. Compared to Hakone the day before, this was a big loser, but it was still quite nice to spend ten minutes or so ruminating on my life in there. Even though I went in to the back of the tub, the water pressure from the tap pumping in water from the front was really strong, so I turned my back to it and used it as an impromptu massager instead.

My whole session in this bathroom ended up taking about 25 minutes or so, and I wandered back to my room after that. The WiFi in the place worked, but was rather slow, and I ended up falling asleep while waiting for my blog pictures to load, which, together with the extended number of random pictures from this day that I had to sift through (293) and upload (177) for this blog, caused a cascading effect that delayed this blog post by a full day.

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