First, through, a little background information. The trip was this past weekend, 08/13-14, but Friday was the day of our midterm exam. For students in the short summer program, however, it was their final, and most of them were leaving the very next day. As such, a celebration was in order - here is the aftermath.
Unfortunately, a few people - myself excluded - drank more than they should have. Directly resulting from this, a few students who were supposed to come on the trip ended up not making it, or were hung over. Sigh.
Okay, so Saturday started with an 8:30 AM LECTURE. Yeah. Awful. Most of it involved a Sensei reading a text she'd written about the history of the Kamakura region, which was rather informative. In fact, Kamakura was the 4th largest city in the world by 1250 AD with over 200,000 people, and it was founded in... Just kidding - if you're interested in the history of Kamakura, read about on Wikipedia. Otherwise, let's get to the trip!
The first thing we did was travel on a series of trains towards our first stop, Enoshima. The word 島（しま, shima) means "island" in Japanese, so Enoshima literally translates to "the island of the bay", or "the island in the bay". Here are a few pictures. Keep in mind that this is only about 1.5 hours south of Tokyo.
|Yeah, those are palm trees|
|I even saw a few Sea-Doos|
|Artwork on the bridge we used to cross over to Enoshima|
Enoshima is famous for, among other things, its Shinto shrine, 江ノ島神社(えのしまじんじゃ, enoshima-jinja). Here are some pictures of us walking up toward the shrine, and of the shrine itself.
|Lots of shops line the street up to the shrine.|
|Traditional 鳥居 (とりい, torii), a Shinto symbol|
Okay, there's a point worth being made here. Way back when, the Hojo clan was one of the largest and most powerful in Japan, though only for a few generations. Their symbol is on the gold crest in the picture below.
Look familiar to some of you? While I haven't found any conclusive evidence supporting my theory, there are certain sources which suggest that the Triforce in The Legend of Zelda series is in fact inspired by this ancient clan symbol. Needless to say, all the nerds in the group thought this was cool.
More pictures, less text? Gotcha.
|One of the main shrine buildings|
I think this next one is worth talking about, because I'm sure I'll get tons of questions. At both Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, it is customary to purchase fortunes, which come on small strips of paper. If you get a bad fortune, or simply don't like the one you got, then you must tie it to these "scapegoat" strings, leaving the poor fortune behind as you leave. It's an interesting custom.
More pictures! From the lower shrine, we walked up, and up...
|This particular shrine runs a "cat rescue" operation, wherein they take in strays, |
sterilize them, and keep them in a "cat garden"...
|This is a larger shrine building|
|The view from the top|
|So, the dragon in the picture fills up the little bowl with water from its mouth;|
when you pour the water from the bowl onto the rocks below,
the water hits overturned copper pots in the ground,
making a really cool sound effect
|We go up the observation tower in this picture later on this day|
Time for a "cool story bro" story. Apparently, Enoshima is known as the "Miami Beach of the East". While there is a beach, and an ocean, I can't say that the two cities look very similar - not that my opinion matters, because the two are officially sister-cities...
|View from the top|
|Miami Beach? I think not...|
|Lon Cafe - famous for its... French toast??|
|Just some of the plants that grow here...|
Then we went up the observation tower you saw in one of the earlier pictures. Here are some shots from the top.
|Apparently the kanji on the roof reads "hastily married woman" or something...|
|Looking back toward the mainland - it was really cloudy that day|
|Looking off the back of the island|
|And there are hawks! They reminded me of Spearow...|
Okay - I'm going to stop here for now. The second part of Day 1 will be posted later! Enjoy!