Our friends, L and K (owners of Joey the smiling bilingual terrier), invited us on a day trip to Kamakura to see the fall foliage. L told us that she had seen an article about the beautiful fall foliage in that area and so we decided to take the 52 mile train trip and also see the Great Buddha, which is the largest outdoor Buddha in Japan.
We took the train from Fussa and arrived at Hase station via electric streetcar. The area was really quaint with various small traditional shops selling Japanese food/snacks, t-shirts, kimonos/obis and a variety of souvenirs. We veered down a side street where we visited a large music box store and indulged in ice cream cones at a little stand outside the store. Continuing down the street, we found a temple at the end of the street, but decided not to go in. Near the temple we saw a really interesting tree with huge bumps up and down the trunk and some of the branches appeared to be hollow.
As we got a better view is the trees on the hillsides, we realized that we were too early. The Kamakura area is located SSE of Tokyo near Sagami Bay and so was a few weeks behind the Fussa area in terms of fall foliage. We decided that we would come back next year for leaf changing, but would focus on taking in the town itself and seeing Buddha.
The Great Buddha, also known as “Daibutsu,” was cast in bronze in 1252 and stands 43.8 feet tall. It was originally housed inside a temple, until the temple was washed away by a tsunami. Daibutsu has set outside ever since. The statue was really impressive and even had a passageway and staircase which allowed viewing of the inside of the Buddha. The winding staircase was incredibly narrow and the entryway was only about 5 feet high.
We had a wonderful lunch at a traditional Japanese (take your shoes off and sit on the floor) cafe and on the way back to the train station our friends spotted an octopus cracker shop. They wanted to try this crunchy-bits-of-dried-octopus pressed into a large, thin, almost translucent cracker. We had no such desire, but I did end up taking a bite…and it was ok…not delicious, but definitely ok.
On our return trip, I saw my first double-decker train. We decided to pay the additional small fee to ride on the upper level and be guaranteed a seat. It was much quieter, more comfortable and an attendant came around offering drinks, chips, etc much like a flight attendant on an airplane. Fun day, interesting trip, great friends!