Day Six June 17, 2006

There are journeys in life that I believe God places before us in order
for us to realize the beauty and love that he put into making this
world.  Today was a day that I will never forget.

Three other women and myself decided to venture out of Tokyo today
for our free day.  We got on the subway and then the train line and
headed out to see what life was like out of the big city.  We first had
planned to go into the city of Kamakura.  Kamakura is located on the
eastern side of Japan.  Here you will find ocean water because it
touches Tokyo bay.

On our way we decided to get off earlier than that in the city of
Kilakamakura.  We started walking and first spotted a cemetery.  We
began walking toward it and were overwhelmed by the site.  The
Japanese people all cremate their loved ones, thus making burial
much easier.  The graves were all together by family and stretched up
into the hillside.  There was a man cleaning his family’s grave.  At the
entrance to the cemetery you can get water, a bucket and broom in
order to clean.  I found this very interesting to see the time and care
that they spend at the cemetery.  
From there we began walking.  We found a temple by the name of
Enkakuji.  There were many other people visiting this place as well.  
Even though it was full, everyone was extremely quiet.  In this culture
people are much quieter than us Americans.  They do not speak as
loudly as we do and do not talk in public as much.  I have some
amazing pictures of this place.  We spent a lot of time there.  It was
beautiful and peaceful and rich in the culture of Japan.  I took
pictures of the gardens, as well as, the temples.  Cherry trees are
very popular here.  I would love to see them in April when they are in
bloom.  However, many plants were in bloom.  We saw lots of plants
that can be found at home.  Hydrangeas were everywhere and in
many different colors.  After a very long stay here we began to explore
the area some more.

We headed out and found ourselves walking in the opposite direction
than we planned.  A young girl saw me looking at my map and asked
if I needed help.  She spoke English very well.  I told her what we
wanted to see and she showed us where to go.  She was heading in
the same direction and walked with us for a little while.  She talked
and shared things about Japan.

We visited Jochi-ji temple next.  It was another beautiful, but much
smaller place.  From there we began a once in a lifetime adventure.  
We started up a small trail.  Before we knew it we were hiking
through the hills to our next destination.  We hiked for 2 miles.  
Nothing but steep climbs and slippery slopes faced us along the way.  
We were in the middle of all the trees and forest area.  Other people
were doing the same.  Due to recent rain the area was very muddy.  
We finally reach the top of one hill and stopped for a break.  There we
found the Jufuju-ji temple.  We began down another path unsure of
what to do and where to go.  There were still others doing the same
thing so we were never alone.  A Japanese couple stopped to see if we
knew where we were going.  They kept trying to tell us that the hills
were hard to climb and very slippery.  We kept trying to tell them
that we had already managed up one hill.  Another man stopped and
could speak a little English.  He said that he would take us to our
next stop.  

And he did!

We walked with him and yet again took in the beauty of our
surroundings.  At one point we reached a very high spot and could
see all the way to the bay.  We took pictures.  It was beautiful!  We
walked all the way to Kamakura city.  Through the woods, not the
road!  The man that was taking us continued to stay and show us
where to go.  He was so sweet and patient while we stopped for
pictures along the way.  We headed to the Kotokuin Temple home to
the great Buddha.  The great Buddha is over 800 years old.  He was
so large and I could not believe how many people where there.  We
rested for a moment and some went into the gift shop.  Our little man
stayed with us the entire time. We decided to give him our business
cards thinking that would help him understand who we were.  His
card was in Japanese and so he sat for a moment and wrote one in
English.  He gave that one to me.  I told the others that I would share
it with them.  

His name was Wataru Arai.

He bought us ice cream in one of the small gift shops.  We could not
get over his kindness.  He asked to see my map and then showed us
the bay.  He wanted to know if we wanted to continue walking and we
said yes.  We all then walked to the bay.  The beach was much
different than what we have at the Gulf.  The sand was very dark and
the area was not clean.  Not trash from people, just the ocean trash
filled the sand.  There were many people swimming and playing in
the sand.  The beach was called Yuigahama Beach.  He then asked if
we would like to visit another famous place.  Again we said yes.  

It took an hour of walking non-stop to reach the next temple.  The
walk was wonderful.  At first we walked down the beach and when
we reached Wakamiya-oji Street we turned.  This was a very long
stretch of road that lead from the bay all the way to the temple.  
There were arches along the way leading you.  We reach an area
where the traffic went around the old road. We were able to walk
down the middle of the road.  This area was lined with cherry trees.  
It was beautiful.  

Wataru told us that 800 years ago the Samurai walked the same path
as us.  I thought that was very neat to know.  We finally made it to
the temple.  We saw a beautiful area of water and went and explored
it first.  There were large pond plants in the water and many fish.  
Wataru bought fish food and we fed the fish.  He kept doing things for
us before we even knew it.  He would tell us to stop, and he would
take a picture of our whole group.

We began into the temple and started hearing beautiful music.  We
found ourselves in the middle of a traditional Japanese wedding
ceremony in the temple.  It was unreal.  I could not believe how lucky
we were.  We stood and watched the ceremony.  I was able to take
pictures as they were leaving.  As we headed up for the larger temple
we saw a family with their small baby.  They had just finished a baby
ceremony, like our baptism.  We reached the top and another
ceremony was taking place.  We stood and watch the baby ceremony.  
There were many other tourists besides us.  It was still very quiet.  
The people here really respect each other.  

We started out of the temple and believe it or not ran into the young
girl who had helped us earlier that morning.  We took a picture with
both her and Wataru.  By this time it was around 5:00.  We had not
even stopped for lunch.  Wataru told us that he must return home.  
We were sad to see him go.  He had spent the entire afternoon with
us.  I wanted to give him something for his kindness.  We shook his
hand and watch him disappear in the crowd.  

I stood there and thought about the generosity and kindness that this
man showed to us.  As the others began browsing through the shops, I
stood there and watched as he disappeared among the many people.  
Tears filled my eyes and compassion for this life filled my heart.  

Would people in America do this?  I doubt it!  Life is so
unpredictable.  I will probably never encounter anyone like him for
the rest of my life.  His smile and excitement for us was evident the
entire day.  He seemed to truly enjoy sharing Japan with us.  Even
though he spoke little English we learned so much from him.  I plan
to do something special for him when I return home. While I am still
here I think I will send him a card.  I brought some Mississippi
postcards and I may mail one out. I just wish I could write it in
Japanese.  Even though, I am sure that he would enjoy the card.  I
will never forget him.

We ventured on by ourselves.  He left us in a large shopping area.  It
is amazing how well he understood women.  We walked and
shopped.  I found some cool paper for my scrapbook and stickers.  I
began getting very tired and weak.  I sat while the others shopped
some more. I then began searching for something American to eat.  I
found KFC. It was not the same, bur close enough.  After that we
found the train station and headed back. We all talked about Wataru’
s kindness and how wonderful the day had been.  Even though the
day was VERY physically challenging, mentally it was the most
peaceful day I have had in a very long time.  I realized that
compassion can be found anywhere in this world.

Thank you God for this amazing journey you sent me on today!
My Journal from my one-day trip to
Kamakura, Japan