Category "Kamakura" Archives

7th Year

%E5%A4%A7%E4%BB%8F311_resize.jpgIt's 7 years since the great earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku.
This year again there was a prayer ceremony in Kamakura where Shinto,Buddhism and Christianity all came together to offer prayers for those whom lost their lives and to pray for the recovery of the area. This year it was held at Koutoku-in,where the Great Buddha is.
It's a very sad day but it's also very moving to see the different religions come together especially considering that most wars,even now,are caused because of our differences in faith.
At 14:46 (which is when the earthquake happened) ,we stand for a minute of silence. It's always amazing that for that one minute,although there are so many people (including small children) there is absolute silence. Even the birds seem to sense the sadness and don't sing.
May our prayers be heard.

3 Years

It's 3 years since March 11th. Again there were prayers held at the Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura with the leaders of different religions - Shinto,Buddhism,Christian - coming together. It's become a bit of a media circus so there were lots of clicking sounds from cameras which was extremely off-putting but still the one minute of silence held at 14:46 is the saddest one minute of the year in Japan.


%E6%AE%B5%E8%91%9B%E9%9B%AA%EF%BC%91_resize.jpg%E5%85%AB%E5%B9%A1%E6%A7%98%EF%BC%92_resize.jpg%E5%A4%AA%E9%BC%93%E6%A9%8B%EF%BC%93_resize.jpgSecond time this winter that we've had heavy snow. I always think that Kamakura is one of the most beautiful places in the world when it snows. Very atmospheric and quaint.

A Historical Day in Kamakura

I live in Kamakura which is quite a historical town. The government was once placed here over 800 years ago and so there are many temples and shrines and places which date back from this time.

The main shrine is "Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine". The land is quite big with huge ponds surrounding it. The main building is reached by a huge stairway in the center and just by the steps stood an amazing Gingko Tree which is said to be nearly 1000 years old. It has it's place in history as one of the important warriors was killed here as the assassinator hid behind this tree.

The height of it reaches the top of the steps and in the autumn all it's leaves turned golden so it was an amazing sight. It was absolutely beautiful. It was looked upon as a holy tree,and almost thought of as the guardian of Kamakura.

Yesterday though,we had a mild snow storm and in the early morning,the tree was discovered to have fallen down. They were saying that they might have imagined it weakening and dying but no one could've imagined it to fall down. It was a surprise to everyone.

The shrine is a five minute walk away so I went to go and see it. I was planning to take a photo of it but on my way up the steps I started to wonder whether this was a respectful thing to do. Because the main stairway was closed off I couldn't see very well so I went down again to see if I could see better from ground level although the area was closed off. It was really sad to see the fallen tree. It almost seemed like it was a person that was helpless. I decided not to take a photo.

I was looking at some articles written about this news and was quite touched. Apparently after it had fell,there have been several ceremonial prayers held for it and holy rice wine has been sprinkled over it as an offering. There were comments by people whom were really saddened by the news but also saying that they hoped that the "spirit of the tree would rest in peace". Also,on my way home today,I went to the dry cleaners and the first thing the shop owner said was " It's so disappointing that the Gingko tree has fallen...".

This is a side of Japan that I really love. The respect and love that they have for nature is real and is heartfelt. And it's not even a religious thing either! I hate the fact that at the moment Japan is only famous for it's cars(!),electronics,Playstation and comics. I wish the world could get to know the more beautiful side of our culture.

I've attached a picture so you can see the Gingko tree in it's glory.
The Golden Gingko tree. It's the tree on the left.

Also this is a link to the history of Hachiman Shrine. (I know it's Wikipedia... I just hope it's accurate.)

Almost spring?

Zuisenji%20gate_resize.jpgIt was a beautiful Sunday here in Japan.It was too much of a temptation to stay indoors,so after teaching in the morning and practicing for a few hours I decided to take a nice long walk.

Zuisenji%20stairs_resize.jpgThere are several temples that I particularly like in Kamakura and most of them are because they are tucked into the mountains which make them secluded from the rest of the world. It's wonderful to be surrounded by untouched nature.

I decided to go to Zuisen-ji (temple) which is one of my favorite temples. It's famous for it's flowers so there are always quite a few visitors but it's still very peaceful.

At the moment,Kamakura is filled with the scent of the plum tree flowers. Zuisen-ji%20Plum%20trees_resize.jpgWe have quite a big tree in our garden so whenever I open the windows in the morning the beautiful scent of these flowers just pour in. It beats any kind of aroma-therapy!

Zuisen-ji's garden is filled with these plum trees so I was hoping to see the garden full of these flowers. Unfortunately though,because the temple sits in a valley,apparently the seasons come a little bit later. There were only a few flowers in bloom here and there which was a bit of a disappointment. Still,the air was full of various different beautiful aromas coming from flowers and shrubs. Spring must be just around the corner!


%E3%82%AD%E3%83%B3%E3%83%A2%E3%82%AF%E3%82%BB%E3%82%A4%EF%BC%92_resize.jpgWe've been having beautiful weather here in Kamakura - clear blue skies and lots of sunshine. The temperature is about 20~25c in the daytime but the nights are getting quite chilly. I always feel like our autumn is like the European summers.

Not only is the weather nice,there is a beautiful scent that fills the air at this time of year. It comes from a shrub which has tiny little orange flowers and if I were to translate the name word for word from the Japanese name it would be " Golden Tree Star ". (English name is "fragrant orange-coloured olive" - not very imaginative...)
kinnmokusei%20_resize.jpgIt apparently comes from China but I've never come across this tree in Europe or America. It has a wonderful sweet smell and is very popular so if you're walking around Japan at this time you are bound to bump into one.

Last week we had quite a big typhoon (which was quite serious) but because of the strong winds it seemed like the whole of Kamakura was smelling of these flowers. Although we don't have a single shrub in the garden I could smell them the minute I opened the front door. And this continued! Walking all the way to the station and even on the station platform,the whole of Kamakura just seemed to be perfumed by nature!

Peace and Silence

Myohonji%20kaido%202_resize.jpgThere are many temples here in Kamakura and one of my favourites is Myohon-ji.It is tucked away in the mountains and away from the tourist trail so it is usually very quiet and peaceful. I go to church quite often as I am a Christian but coming to these temples which are totally surrounded by nature give me a different kind of "peace". They have the power to totally cleanse my mind and I am left with a very still and calm "self", free of any ill thoughts. (As I write this I realize that when I am in church to pray,it has more to do with the heart rather than the mind.)
It is interesting though that I am never musically inspired in these surroundings. Only silence seems appropriate.

Spring Time!

%E4%B8%89%E3%81%AE%E9%B3%A5%E5%B1%85_resize.jpgSpring is almost here in Kamakura! The cherry blossoms have started to bloom and although it's still chilly,it definitely feels as if winter is over.
  I live in Kamukura which is about an hour away from Tokyo by train. The capital was once here,over 750 years ago,so it is quite a historical town. Kamkaura was chosen as it forms a natural fort. Three sides are surrounded by mountains and the fourth is the ocean. We have many temples and shrines and much of the nature is still preserved which is quite unusual for a place so near to Tokyo.
%E6%A1%9C%E6%BA%90%E6%AC%A1%E6%B1%A0%EF%BC%93_resize.jpg I've always lived here in Kamakura when in Japan. After living in London for four years during college,coming back here was quite a big adjustment. London was so exciting and for a musician,so full of inspiration.As a young person,I felt Kamakura was such a sleepy town. Very quaint and pretty but nothing happening.
 Now though,as I am older(!),I can appreciate it's beauty and it's quietness. It actually gives me more room and space to find my own music and I feel very grateful and privileged to live here.