A Simple Day Exploring Somewhere New

stopping for a cool drink in Kamakura

Kamakura is my favourite place in Japan. It's full of quirky little shops and cafes. There's a wonderful farmers market. The ocean is a short walk from the station. Hiking trails wind through the mountains. And there are countless shrines and temples dotted across the area.

Last time I shared about the city Euan and I live in, Yokohama. But today I'd like to introduce Kamakura, which is a short train ride away. It is also accessible from Tokyo and makes a great day trip. If you don't live anywhere near those places, allow me a few minutes to take you on a virtual trip.

Seeing Japan through fresh eyes

When you live somewhere it can be easy to forget to take the time to visit the beautiful places on your doorstep. You go to work, or to the shops, you frequent the same restaurants. You walk a well-worn path of familiar, comfortable places. Maybe you only make the effort to go to the beauty spots when people from out of town are visiting.

At least that's true for me. Kamakura is on my doorstep but there was a lot of it that I had never got around to visiting. I wrote before about wanting to make the most of my son's preschool years. I also wanted to start seeing Japan through fresh eyes again. I find it easy to wish for new places to travel to and forget to appreciate where I live.

Kamakura Day Trip

My husband and I decided to get on a train (instead of taking the car) and visit some new areas of Kamakura this month. My son is (not quite) three and still wants to be carried or to go in the stroller a lot. But we left the stroller at home because it is super inconvenient.


toddler bug watching


Which meant we had to convince him to walk or he rode 'kataguruma' aka on daddy's shoulders. It also meant we moved at the pace of a two-year old. Stopping to notice spiders webs and pill bugs. And communicating with the uruguisu (Japanese bush warbler) in the trees above us.

We visited two shrines as well. Zeniarai Benten is where people go to wash their money in the spring water in the hope that it’ll bring them good fortune. We stopped there to eat but didn't wash any money. The line stretched back a long way, and I'm pretty sure you won't get any richer, you'll just end up with wet 10,000 yen ($100) notes!

After lunch we continued up a steep hill, making poor Euan walk. There were tears. There was coercion. At nearly 17kgs carrying him up the hill was not an option! But when we reached the top, there were trees and wide open spaces, and insects and dogs to pet so everyone was happy again.

There was another shrine but we didn't go in (Kuzuharaoka Shrine). Just outside there was a table with lots of small ceramic dishes in front of a large rock. You throw it at a rock in the hope it smashes, taking your negativity with it. We decided this seemed more fun than washing money, so gave it a go. I threw mine a little too vigorously and it landed behind the smashing area. So I cheated and got it back to try again.   


konnyaku on a stick


We also enjoyed some konnyaku on a stick from outside the shrine. Euan’s daddy gave him 100 yen and told him to go and ask the ladies for one stick. It’s so fun to watch him getting more independent and the reaction he gets.

By the end of the day the little boy was worn out, but everyone had big smiles on their faces. A year ago we may have just got in the car and driven to a busy shopping mall. But choosing a more slow, deliberate life is opening us up to fun new things and interesting new places.

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