Exploring Japan: experiencing the country

23 Jul

Last weekend, we had one of the best day trips we have had so far. We went to a tiny little island right off the coast, about an hour away from our apartment. We’ve been to Enoshima before (see my post here for more on that cool beach town), but we hadn’t walked over the bridge to the island yet.

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As you can see, this is a very small island, which made it easy for us to explore it from top to bottom and coast to coast.

The coolest part about this trip was how much culture we were able to experience in one go. Brent and I have talked about not feeling like we’re in another country during the week. He rides the train to work, works on his research at Nissan pretty much on his own, and I’m here in the apartment working by myself, only venturing out to go to the store – which is an experience in itself but is still a mundane, day-to-day task.

The weekends are when we really get to see the country and experience the culture and sights. Enoshima Island actually has a ton to offer despite being so tiny. The coolest part, to me anyways, was The Legend of Enoshima:
“Once upon a time, a fearful dragon with five heads lived in the bottomless lake in Fukasawa, Kamakura, and tormented the villagers. People were scared and called this land “Child Death Over The Mountain” and they sacrificed their children to the dragon. One day, thick clouds rose up in the offering, far south the area, and a strong earthquake shook the earth for days. When the earthquake stopped, a heavenly maiden appeared. When the clouds cleared, an island appeared at the surface. It is said that this island is Enoshima. The dragon, attracted to the beautiful heavenly maiden, proposed marriage to her, but she didn’t say yes. She wouldn’t accept the proposal until the dragon stopped its evildoing. It is said that the dragon mended its ways and finally gained her hand. People say the heavenly maiden in this legend is the goddess Benzaiten, who is worshipped on Enoshima island.” (via sign in the cave)

As you look up the island, there are a few different shrines, some to Benzaiten, some to other goddesses, and you can walk from the bottom to the top of the island to see them.

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But there was also the geography of the island. We don’t really understand how volcanoes and earthquakes work to create land masses, but this one was really interesting. There are flat rocks that extend out of the island, so instead of beaches, people fish on and lay out on the rocks when the tide is low. There were mini ecosystems full of tiny sea creatures that we were a bit obsessed with, and we looked out at the sea for a long time.
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We climbed the Sea Candle, a very tall observation tower, and it was pretty breathtaking. But! I’m still bummed we’re here during the hazy season. We would’ve been able to see Mt. Fuji had it been good visibility.

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This was definitely one of the days we really felt like we were in a different, new, exciting place!

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You know you’re by the ocean when you can just scoop up some shells and grill them up.

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