American Couples Visit Buddhist Temples and Enjoy Traditional Japanese Temple-Style Vegetarian Meals in Kamakura

posted in: 未分類 | 0

Date & Time: Friday, November 3, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Visitors: Michael & Nini, and Scott & Jean, from the U.S.A.
Spots: Kenchoji Temple, lunch at “Hachi No Ki” restaurant, Hasedera Temple, and Great Buddha at Kotokuin Temple.
Guide: Chiyoko, a KSGG member
Language: English  

The visitors were two cheerful and friendly American couples who had applied to the KSGG’s guide service over 6 months ago, expressing their long-standing desire to visit Japan.

Michael had started planning their itinerary with their guide, Chiyoko, two months before their visit, but his interests grew and grew while exchanging emails: from stroll around Enoshima Island to the experiences such as zazen (Buddhist meditation), Japanese calligraphy, and the tea ceremony in Kamakura.
Since Nini, Michael’s wife, is very interested in Japanese culture, and she has been attending a zazen class taught by an American instructor for many years, they all wanted to try zazen meditation, the guide recommended a zazen class to be held at Kenchoji Temple, which they accepted, and their tour plan was finally set.
However, when Chiyoko went to the temple two weeks before the tour to check on the zazen class, it turned out that the session they were supposed to attend would not be open on that day. So the plan had to be changed from zazen class to shakyo class, the practice of copying a Buddhist sutra.
Michael made an additional request to eat shojin-ryori, the traditional Japanese temple vegetarian meal. So she looked for a couple of shojin-ryori restaurants in advance of the tour and managed to be able to book one of them.
On the day of the tour, the temple was expected to be crowded due to the special prayer session. However, the visitors started early in the morning when the temples were quiet, so they were able to explore Kenchoji Temple and northern Kamakura, in a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere.
The visitors then had a shojin-ryori lunch at the “Hachi No Ki” restaurant. The lunch they were looking forward to was beautifully displayed and the graceful taste was excellent. The guide explained the ingredients and contents of the dishes while the visitors enjoyed the dishes.
Then, they took the Enoden train packed with people to Hasedera Temple where the shakyo class was to be held. But to their disappointment, the class had already closed at 1 p.m., even though the guidebook said it would be open until 3 p.m. Chiyoko was afraid that they would be disappointed again. But they taught her their old saying: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Chiyoko was very grateful for the generosity of the visitors, whose conversation and company over the past five hours since they had met had led to a more relaxed relationship with her than she could have known from just exchanging emails. The visitors had time to visit the other fun sights of the temple, namely, the caves, the lookout observatory, etc. at the temple.
Although the visitors seemed to get tired and sleepy, the guide was keen to show them the DaiButsu (Great Buddha), so she took them to Kotokuin Temple. Nini and Jean seemed to be more impressed by the sight of the statue than by Chiyoko’s explanation, and they walked through the crowd, getting closer and closer to the statue with their smartphones in their hands, as if being sucked in, until they were standing right under the statue.
After that, they all took the bus directly back to Kamakura Train Station. and Chiyoko escorted them to the Minatomirai Line at Yokohama Station because the visitors were so worried about the transferring from the JR Line to the Minatomirai Line at Yokohama Station.
At the end of the tour, the visitors were surprised by the souvenir the guide gave them—Japanese paper dolls made by the KSGG origami group. Nini and Jean looked as if they really liked them very much. They said they knew how to do origami, but they couldn’t make them as beautiful as these!