Typhoons and Love and Umami

October 26, 2017

Waseda Festival and Bomb Threats

November 8, 2017

Halloween, Kamakura, Enoshima

November 2, 2017
asakusa night

Hello!! I’m currently writing this on the train from Kamakura back to Tokyo!

But, to discuss events in chronological order: I hope everybody had a super spooky Halloween… 🎃

shibuya halloween

I didn’t need an umbrella, I had my hat

I remember one of the first things I wrote about when I came here was how extreme the Halloween spirit was. In fact, I’ve mentioned the presence of Halloween here a total of three times (minus my last post), regarding: Halloween in Don Quijote, Special edition Halloween KitKats, and Mr Donut Halloween doughnuts. With my posts coming on average once a week, that’s a pretty good indicator of the Halloween atmosphere in Japan, considering today’s the eighth week anniversary of me being here. (Already!?)

I remember being super sad knowing that all the Halloween stuff would disappear and become replaced with Christmas merchandise. The first Christmas-themed Coca-colas have already started turning up, and one of the local 100 yen shops is stocking Santa hats and costumes…

halloween shibuya

Pictures like these were taken every 30 seconds

Since the day fell on a Tuesday, the main celebrations took part last weekend. And it was AMAZING!! The only thing that could’ve made it better is if it hadn’t rained. It’s so incredible seeing the amount of effort that’s being put into costumes, and the overall atmosphere was fantastic.

I mentioned in my previous post that a new typhoon was approaching, and luckily it struck hardest overnight on Sunday much like hurricane Lan did the previous week. Except this time around, it wasn’t enough to cancel my Monday morning classes, so I had to go outside in the most miserable weather while sniffling underneath my surgical mask.

I’m also ill for the first time since being here!! Which I’m sure must be some kind of record for me, given that I’m constantly suffering from some kind of illness every other day.

On actual Halloween night, the plan was to buy sweets, turn off the lights, and watch a scary film. (Poughkeepsie Tapes, anyone?) What happened instead was, despite having a full day of classes on Wednesday… we decided spontaneously to go back out into Shibuya.

My costume had tabasco stains on it, but the decision was made so last-minute that I just threw it on and hoped for the best. Literally, no regrets: Shibuya was WAY more packed than it was on Saturday. And it was stupidly fun stopping every 2 seconds to take pictures with people in all kinds of crazy outfits!!

shibuya halloween

It was RIDICULOUSLY packed!!!

I know that many pictures of me were taken both professionally and just by selfie, but I still haven’t been able to find any on Twitter/google/etc… I’ll keep this blog updated if I do though!

Today until Sunday is a holiday (2nd-5th November), so plans were constantly being discussed in the common room and what not as to where everybody was going. A bunch of people have left Japan for other places in Asia, or have gone further out within Japan ie. Osaka, Sapporo. I already knew that I wanted to go travelling around Japan for maybe 2-3 weeks in February, so I decided to save those kind of journeys for later and instead chose to continue checking out the Tokyo area.

So today, I went to Kamakura and Enoshima!

鎌倉

Kamakura

kamakura main

Kamakura is a seaside town just 30 minutes by train from Yokohama, a lovely place I visited before term began. I’d heard about Kamakura beforehand, mainly that it holds one of the biggest Buddha statues in Japan, has a variety of shrines, and has easy access to a little beautiful island (Enoshima). Needless to say, I was ready to go, but finding the timing was difficult – so when I knew that this little holiday was coming I jumped on the opportunity.

And yes – Kamakura was stunning. The picture speaks for itself.kamakura water

Each shrine & temple has a little tub outside in which you are meant to wash your hands and rinse out your mouth in order to purify yourself and your prayers. You throw a coin into a box just outside the shrine, clap, make your prayer, bow, and continue forward. It’s a simple process, and I couldn’t help but feel that because I partook in these customs I was shrouded in some kind of spirituality with each shrine I visited.

There were… a LOT of shrines.

kamakura buddha

Of course, when I finally got the opportunity to see the big Buddha in person, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d ticked something off my life bucket list. It’s good luck to enter inside the Buddha and rub his belly, so of course, I did (though he looks far less lovely from the inside). I also got to write on an 絵馬 (Ema, a wooden block that you hang up outside shrines where you write your wish or something similar).

When I go travelling, I think I’ll need all the luck in the world to make sure I keep courage. Safety of self, and peace of mind. That’s the vibe I was going for, written as simply as I could. いつも、いつも安全。

ema kamakura

江ノ島

Enoshima

enoshima seaenoshima shrine

Enoshima is about 20 minutes by train from Kamakura Station, and it’s definitely one of the prettiest places I’ve seen so far. The ocean was blue in a way that I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen in my life.

It’s a little island, filled with steps and steps that lead to various different shrines. I felt really blessed to be able to walk around for almost 3 hours, in absolute tranquility (minus getting lost for around 40 minutes as the sun was setting and running into a spooky tree, feeling like this is the horror film I missed out seeing on Halloween).

cat enoshimaLooking out from the island into the horizon, surrounded by endless sea, I couldn’t help but think of how whenever I’m near the ocean in England, no matter which direction I’m facing, I’ll think to myself, “If I squint hard enough from here, I’ll be able to see France.”

It felt almost lonely knowing that, no, no matter how hard I squint here, I won’t see France. It’s a definite that I won’t see anything but ocean.

What I did see on the walk down the bridge back into Kamakura, though, was the clear silhouette of Mount Fuji.

Slowly but surely I’ll reach it!

enoshima fuji