Monday, 21 April 2008

Oki-na Gaijin, Chisai-na Kuni (Big Foreigner, Small Country) #9

March 28 - Kamakura and Hase

Got up at 8, feeling pretty good, despite the late night before. Maybe I'm getting used to this hectic lifestyle?

Our first stop was an unusual one - it was the Honjo Fire Station and Life Safety Learning Centre - just a five minute walk from where we were staying! We first watched a 3D film dramatizing how several people responded to an earthquake that hits Tokyo.

The first was a mother who couldn't work out how to work a fire extinguisher and so, fled her house with her elderly mother as buckets, roof tiles and live wires fell all around them.

The next part had a businessman on the subway as the earthquake hit. We had headphones that translated the dialogue into English which was interesting. As the earthquake hit, for example, the businessman yelled, "What the hell was that?" which is not exactly what you'd expect for an educational video shown to children!

Anyway, the story progressed from people running from the train, some running on top of other people, and running, panicked into the street as debris fell around them. The film continued with a story of what not to do in case of an earthquake without giving the alternate - a refreshing change from educational videos here! I quite enjoyed it although I did find myself giggling from time to time...

After the movie (which happened to be in 3D - look out for that falling glass!) we headed upstairs to the earthquake room. After a rather lengthy explanation ("OK, OK, OK?") and detailed instructions on what to do, we had a couple of simulations where a machine moved the entire floor of the test area - a couple of the jolts were quite strong. I enjoyed it thoroughly!

After, we took the train to Kamakura which was about an hour away. We had soba for lunch (a type of noodle), which was quite tasty, and then wandered the shopping street.

We made a couple of purchases, took in a shrine, stopped for coffee, and then headed back to the train station to take the little commuter train to Hase.

We arrived in Hase and then walked to the Daibutsu - the big Buddha! He is huge! He was built around the year 1200 and is made of bronze. About 400 years after he was built, the building that covered him washed away in a tsunami.

It is a remarkable sight and is well worth seeing especially with the trees and hill behind.

We then went to Hase temple which is a shrine complex with gardens, statues, and caves as well as shrines.

The saddest was the section devoted to Jiso, god of unborn children, to honour all those unborn fetuses and children who died in childbirth. I think there were less statues than last time I went, however, possibly due to the fact that birth control is now legal in Japan.

When we went home, it was rush hour so Yoichi sprang for a Green Car - a first class seat on the train - which was very nice - reminded me of the Shinkansen - and I had a bit of a nap on the way home.

Later that night, Keiko prepared a fantastic sukiyaki meal which is a cross between shabu shabu and yaki niku (Korean BBQ). We then just sat around, chatting, talking of old times and new experiences. It was a wonderful last evening.


Conchscooter said...

Wot? No gross food pictures? I'm disappointed.

Dave Dixon said...

You may think the food is gross but it's heaven to me!