Sunday, March 27, 2016

Riding the rails to Shimoda!

A couple months ago I decided to sell my car and become completely dependent on walking and public transportation. So, when we had the urge to go on an overnight trip to a hot spring resort town we had to do the whole thing using only buses and trains. We choose Shimoda as our destination.

After 3 hours of hopping from train to train we finally arrived at the train terminal in Shimoda.

The exit gate is staffed with well dressed attendants  that collect tickets from wickets fashioned after Commodore Perry's Black Ships.

Just a quick note about the town of Shimoda: there are flowers everywhere! Every shop, house, restaurant and everything else in between has flower pots hanging everywhere. It's quite beautiful.

While Emi was visiting here favorite recycled kimono shop I wandered around the old section of town.

I love the old style of the buildings in this district of town.

The weeping willows are just starting to grow their green leaves. Signs of spring abound!

Trees and gas lamps line the small stream that runs through here.

Lovely atmosphere here. Many couples both young and old were walking around holding hands and enjoying the day.

We have visited Shimoda many times before but this was the first time where I wasn't driving a car. So, we spent the afternoon walking along the waterfront without a care in the world.

No need to worry about where to park, just put one foot in front of the other and enjoy.

After looking at a tourist map we decided to walk the Townsend Harris walking path.

Townsend Harris was the first American Counsel General posted to Japan and he had a habit of taking long walks in Shimoda.  I won't get into a long history lesson on Towsend Harris, there's plenty of information about him on the internet; or, one can watch the John Wayne movie "The Barbarian and the Geisha".

The path curves around the bay where many nice yachts and fishing boats are moored.

We walked for over an hour before turning around and heading back to town.

After spending the night at a great hotel that I've covered here before in a past blog, we returned to the train station for our return trip to home.

The Shimoda station is more of a transportation terminal. This is a place where people can connect with other forms of transportation like buses, and taxis to reach their final destination.

I guess there is no escaping the long reach of the McDonald's franchise.

When they opened the departure gate for us to board our train we got the biggest surprise of the trip.

Instead of getting on a standard passenger train like we took to get to Shimoda we boarded a train designed to maximize the viewing pleasure of the train line along the Izu peninsula coast.

This is amazing! Much more fun than driving a car.

Coastal viewing from my seat in the train is incredible.

This run up the coast was easily the highlight of the trip.

Eventually we reached the city of Atami and we had to transfer over to a regular train to  complete our trip home. Our trip as pedestrians using public transportation was a big success; looking forward to our next!

Bonus photos!
Just a few flower pictures from around Yokohama Park.

More to come in my next post.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Kamakura - Daibutsu & Hasedera Temple

I was in a touristy mood and it was one of the nicest days this year so I decided to go to Kamakura. Kamakura is a large area with a lot to see and do, maybe to much to see and do in one day so I decided to limit my visit to just two places.

After arriving at the Kamakura train station I decided to visit the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) first. While taxis, buses, trains and even rickshaws are readily available I figured that the 2 kilometer walk would do me good.

It was a beautiful spring day and while walking along the quiet residential streets these brilliant flowers that had fallen on the stone and bamboo fence caught my eye.

I have arrived!

Up close and personal with the Great Buddha.

Construction of the original Daibutsu began in 1252 and lasted for ten years.

It was destroyed twice in 1334 and 1369 by strong winds and was rebuilt again sometime after the 15th century.

Height, including the pedestal is 13.4 meters. Weight is 121 tons.

This Buddha is visited daily by tourist from around the world.  I was here on a regular work day and it wasn't overly crowded. If one visits on the weekend be prepared for large crowds.

Now you see him...

Now you don't! Well, maybe you can see him playing peek-a-boo with the stone lantern.

It's not a long walk from the Buddha to the Hasedera Temple. However, the sidewalks are narrow and crowded with other tourists shopping at the souvenir shops and eating at the restaurants that line both sides of the street.

The price of admission to the Hasedera temple is 300 yen and I think it's well worth it.

A visitor is lighting incense.

This temple is beautiful and well maintained.

The temple grounds are large and it's enjoyable to just walk around and soak in the serine atmosphere.

No two statues have the same look or expression on their face

There's an army of these statues.

The temple grounds are like a park with trails weaving up and down the hill side.

Talk about being well maintained, even the grass is braided.

Just beyond this little nook filled with stone statues is a beautiful view of the Kamakura beach front.

There is also a cave to explore.

And, of course there are prayer boards left by visitors.

Working my way back to the Kamakura train station.

And, here it is!

Waiting for my train; my legs were tired from all the walking but my spirits were high from the satisfying feeling of playing tourist on such a beautiful day.

Thanks for stopping by!