Japan
Comment 1

Japan Day 20: Kamakura

What a day! I had made plans with my friend Mizuki a few weeks ago, assuming we would do something simple like lunch and shopping. A few days ago she texted me and said she made a reservation for us for a Wagashi making class, but little did I know it would be that fun—and that it would be only a small part of a fun filled day!

1239614_10102208789335362_1898464140_n

I started out the day at the Kaihin Makuhari station. I was initially freaked out because the station was absolutely insane with people. There were lines of people everywhere and initially I was worried they were all waiting to get on the train. However, they had actually all just gotten off the train and were going to a gaming convention in Makuhari. When I got to the platform, I saw a train arrive from Tokyo and literally everyone but two or three ojiisans got off the train. It was a mob of otaku, and it was hilarious. I was relieved that I could watch from afar and not be apart—I imagine it is similar to the running of the bulls. 😉

IMG_2186 2

After a 40 minute train ride, I got to Tokyo Station, met Mizuki, and hopped on another train headed to Kamakura. From Tokyo, Kamakura is Southwest, and the train we were on passed through Yokohama—another destination I would love to go to while I am here! We got off at the most ridiculous station I have ever seen, which was basically just a sidewalk next to the train tracks. Mizuki needed to add more money to her Suica card, but I had already left the station. However, the station was so small, the worker didn’t even blink when I walked back in, and another worker waved me on through when Mizuki had barely described the situation.

IMG_8529

We walked a short way down the street to a very traditional Japanese building which houses a famous Italian restaurant. I am so happy that Mizuki made the reservation and that she was with me, because I definitely would not have been able to find the door… T_T As I said it was a very traditional Japanese building, and the front door was a sliding door that to me looked like a wall…

IMG_8531

We entered the building and sat down at a bar across from the kitchen area. The entire restaurant was contained in the one room, and there were probably 6 tables in addition to the bar area where we were.

IMG_8533

It was incredible. I am fairly sure that everyone had to have a reservation, and for the same time, because everyone was served their first course at the same time. It had a chilled soup, salad, frittata, and crostini. Delicious.

IMG_8534

We then had to choose our main meal from a list of pastas and pizzas. We decided to share a Margarita Pizza and Mushroom Pasta. Again, it was fantastic, but it was a little funny, as they gave us the pizza first and didn’t give us the pasta until after we had finished it. What would they have done if we hadn’t wanted to share?!

IMG_8535

IMG_8536

After lunch we had some time to kill before our cooking class would start, so we went to a temple that was on the way there. It was quite beautiful and had several nice walking paths in and amongst various buildings and bamboo and such.

IMG_8540

IMG_8548

It was nice to see a smaller shrine temple like this one, after seeing the much larger structures like sensoji and meiji-jingu.

IMG_8544

IMG_8543

We also came across a “lucky god” after going through a creepy tunnel and up some stairs. The sign said that if we touched the belly we would receive good luck—and it seemed to work, because the rest of the day we had great luck!

IMG_8555

Making our way to the wagashi classroom, we both began to feel as if we were in the wrong area. The path was incredibly narrow and overgrown, there was only one sign that said we were going in the right direction…

IMG_8557

But just then, we appeared in a clearing with this adorable, ancient Japanese style house.

IMG_8558

Soon after the class started—with Mizuki and I, a handful of Japanese housewives, and the teacher in her kimono. Needless to say, they were all surprised that there was a gaijin in the class! >.< I am pretty sure they were all worried that I wouldn’t know what was going on, and that I would completely suck at making wagashi, so I was thrilled to be able to prove them wrong on both accounts. We went around the room and did self introductions (because what Japanese situation would be complete without one?) and after I had uttered barely 3 words they were all over me in traditional Japanese fashion, proclaiming how good my Japanese was and how cute I was.

We all watched as the teacher demonstrated the first steps, and we followed along at our own tables.

IMG_8559

Having experience with baking and working with my hands (see my gum paste roses here!) I did not find this very challenging, and was immediately the object of praise, with the teacher and all the women looking at what I was doing and basically squealing at how cute and wonderful my wagashi was. I think it was about 75% because I was gaijin, 15% because that is what Japanese people say to each other, and only 10% because it was actually good!

IMG_8561

It was such an incredible experience, and I loved being able to learn something about Japanese cooking in an actual classroom. We each made three wagashi and then were given one that the teacher had made beforehand along with some chrysanthemum tea—because that was the theme of the wagashi we were making.

IMG_8575

After class, Mizuki and I went to the train station to take an incredibly small, incredibly famous train a few stops to an area nearby.

IMG_8578

It was such a cute area, with shops lining either side of the street selling a wide range of products. We went to a temple with the third largest daibutsu—Buddha—in Japan. When we entered, Mizuki went up to the counter and asked for two tickets. Originally the woman gave her two tickets, but then she saw that she was with me, took one ticket back, and gave me a gaijin ticket… T_T

IMG_8581

Even though I knew the statue would be big, I was still surprised when I saw it.

IMG_8583

In a building to the side of the Buddha, there were shoes that would fit that size of Buddha…

IMG_8586

We didn’t stay for long, and headed to the Kamakura station to go shopping and sightseeing in the area around the station. I feel like I keep saying this, but I love this area! There were so many cool shops, and there were so many people wandering about; it had a really great atmosphere.

IMG_8579

IMG_8589

We went in a few shops—Mizuki bought some famous dove shaped cookies as a souviner and I got some presents for people but I can’t tell you what they are in case the person I am giving them to is reading this!

After that we headed over to yet another shrine, this one was built into a hillside and required going up a steep incline of stairs in order to reach. The shrine was vibrantly colored and was really cool, but better than just going there, we were able to witness a Shinto wedding ceremony! :O

IMG_8599

IMG_8595

We saw that they were preparing for the ceremony and decided to stay and wait for it to happen. The couple was in very traditional clothing, and everything was happening in a small pavilion at the base of the stairs of the temple, so we could see and hear it all.

IMG_8612

Walking down the street a little, we popped into a coffee shop that was recommended to us by one of Mizuki’s friends. It is an independent shop and was very unique from any coffee shop I have ever been in before.

IMG_8615

I got an iced latte, and they gave it to me in a “make your own” sort of way, which I adored.

IMG_8616

When we got to our dinner destination, we again were at a very traditional Japanese building, but this time the food was Japanese as well.

IMG_8620

We were seated at a table with a grill in the center, and ordered okonomiyaki and yakisoba—both of which we were able to make ourselves! We were given the ingredients in large bowls, and Mizuki told me what to do in order to make it correctly.

IMG_8622

IMG_8623

IMG_8626

There weren’t many people in the restaurant, and one of the servers came over and showed us some mad skills with how to make yakisoba, and showed us how to tell if the person making it was a pro or not. They were incredibly nice to us—just as everyone had been the entire day—and I had a really great experience.

IMG_8628

IMG_8629

I was also in heaven with having the chance to make okonomiyaki in Japan! It was one thing on my “food to do list” that I had not gotten to do since I arrived three weeks ago.

I had a fantastic day, and I am so appreciative to Mizuki for showing me around to all of these places. I think this day with Mizuki has really shown me how valuable it is to make connections and how fun it can be to step out of your comfort zone and try something new or go with the flow. It is one of my goals while I am here to gain friends as well as cultural and language experiences, which before I got to Japan I was not sure was something I would be able to accomplish to the extent that I have already been able to, and I am so thankful for how everything has turned out.

As always, thank you for following my adventures and for staying with me after this incredibly long—but hopefully fun—post!

じゃ、また明日!

Advertisements

1 Comment

  1. caitlinliz says

    I just caught up on your blog posts about Japan and am so excited that you seem to be having such a wonderful time!! Your host grandmother sounds wonderful (even though I know how awkward those host-family situations can sometimes be) and I’m so excited that you’re jumping into “outside the comfort zone” situations…you’re clearly beginning to shed your gaijin-ness 😛 Can’t wait for more posts!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s