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Historic Sites by Train

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Historic Sites by Train (from Tokyo):
 
These are historic places within an hour's train ride from Tokyo, that are worth checking out.
 
Nihon Minka-en 日本民家園
Nihon Minka-en Kawasaki
 

Nihon Minka-en is an outdoor house museum in Kawasaki that holds approximately 20 homes reflecting the lifestyle of rural Japan.  The oldest structure dates back to 1687 and the newest is from 1929.  These houses are not reproductions, they were transported (in pieces) from all over Japan to this location and reassembled at the park. Admission is 500.

Below is a short video of our most recent visit to Nihon Minka-en in 2010:

 

Nihon Minka-en Path
 
 
 
 

 


 It's not only a great way to get a feel for traditional Japanese life, but the park kind of looks like a movie set and you can imagine Ninja's descending on the short roofs of the houses in this village and wreaking havoc.  uh...er...I mean...the scenery is lovely and peaceful.
Nihon Minka-en

 You can even go inside the houses...

Nihon Minka-en
 

  ...and check out the Ninja's hiding places.

Nihon Minka-en

  The Ito House from Kawasaki is shown below.

Nihon Minka-en Ito House

They have a Kabuki stage built in 1857, you can even visit the stagehands area under the stage (entrance has stairs) to see the mechanics of the stage's special effects.

Nihon Minka-en Kabuki Theatre

The walkways are lined with trees. 

Nihon Minka-en Path

 

 

 

  ...and one of their houses (the Yamashita House) has been converted into a restaurant.  You can sit on mats on the floor in one of these old houses and enjoy soba and ice cream. :-)  Please click the link below for more information and pics of the restaurant.

http://english.nihonminkaen.jp/visual_visit/rest_place/

The exit to the Nihon Minka-en takes you to a scenic park with a small lake, an ice cream stand and vending machines.

Nihon Minka-en


 But a trip to Tokyo just isn't complete without a trip to Kamakura.

 Kamakura鎌倉

Every Tokyoite has visited Kamakura at least once in their life.  Kamakura was the 4th largest city in the world in the year 1250 and became the seat of power for the shogunate (ruling party of Japan)  for many years during the Kamakura period. 

See our visit to Kamakura in 2010 in the YouTube link below:

 

There are so many different kinds of temples, shrines, restaurants and shops it feels kind of like a Shinto-Buddhist theme park.  There are even rickshaws waiting at the station to take you to your intended destination, and most people want to see Daibutsu first.

Daibutsu 大仏 (Big Buddha)

Daibutsu

 


This peaceful brass Buddha originally constructed in 1252 was originally inside a temple.  The temple was washed away several times by Tsunami's, leaving only the Buddha in a meditative pose.  After the Tsunami of 1498, plans to build a new temple were abandoned in favor of an outdoor setting for Daibutsu.  

This particular Daibutsu has become a symbol of strength to the Japanese.  They've seen it weather all types of governments, tidal waves and even while his temple has crumbled around him, Daibutsu remains peaceful and contemplative.

Daibutsu

 

 The Big Buddha of Kamakura is approximately four stories tall and for 20 yen (approx. $0.20)  donation, you can even go inside this hollow statue.

Daibutsu

 

There's a small courtyard where you can buy religious charms (made by monks) and offerings (like incense) to give to the Big Buddha.  There's also a gift shop that sells snacks and souvenirs.

Daibutsu

 


 Zeniarai Benzaiten Jingu 銭洗 弁天 神社 (Shrine)

Zeni Arai means  "washing pennies", it is said that if you wash your money here it will be multiplied.  Since 1257, people have travelled here from all over Japan to wash their coins in its holy stream to double their money.  It only works with the amount that you wash, but it's worth a try, right?

The shrine itself is hidden from view and the entrance takes the form of a long dark tunnel to your destination.

Zeniarai

 


 Below are the torii gates leading up to the shrine.

Zeniarai

 


 Once inside the shrine, you can use the baskets provided to put your coins (or even paper money) into and use the cups to scoop water from the sacred stream and pour over your money. 

Zeniarai


 Hase-dera 長谷 Shrine

The shrine below houses one of the largest wooden statues of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy - Kannon. 

Hase-dera

 

 It is said that the 30 foot tall statue of Kannon (pictured below) was made from the wood of a single Camphor tree.

Hase-dera Kannon

 

 There's also a shrine to Benzaiten (Buddhist Goddess of Running Water) in a cool cave.  The entrance is pictured below. Hase-dera 


  ...and here's the shrine inside the cave.


 There's even a cool shrine to Inari... Hase-dera


 ...that features Inari's messenger -  the fox (as seen below). Hase-dera Fox


 

There are dozens of other beautiful shrines in Kamakura and it's right by the beach, so this journey is definitely worth the trip. 

 

Getting There - Kawasaki- Nihon Minka-en

 

From Shinjuku 新宿 - Take the Odakyu Odawara 小田急小田原 line to Mukogaoka-yuen 向ヶ丘遊園.

Price: 240

Time: 21 minutes

It's a 13 minute walk from the station, straight up the main road (on the right hand side).

 

From Nakano 中野 - Take the Chuo 中央 line or Chuo-Sobu 中央総武 line to Shinjuku 新宿 then transfer to the Odakyu Odawara 小田急小田原 line to Mukogaoka-yuen 向ヶ丘遊園..

Price: 390

Time: 32 minutes

It's a 13 minute walk from the station, straight up the main road (on the right hand side).

 

Getting There - Kamakura

 

From Shinjuku 新宿 - Take the JR Shonan-Shinjuku 湘南新宿 Rapid line to Ofuna 大船 then transfer to the JR Yokosuka 横須賀 line to Kamakura 鎌倉.

Price: 890

Time: 58 minutes

Kamakura station is close to the Zeniarai (pronounced "Zeh-knee ah-rye") money washing shrine.  To get to Daibutsu & Hase-dera, once at Kamakura you should take the Enoden (Enoshima Electric Railway) 江ノ島電鉄 line towards Fujisawa藤沢 two stops to Hase 長谷 station.

 

From Nakano 中野 - Take the Chuo 中央 line or Chuo-Sobu 中央総武 line to Shinjuku 新宿 then transfer to the JR Shonan-Shinjuku 湘南新宿 Rapid line to Ofuna 大船 then transfer to the JR Yokosuka 横須賀 line to Kamakura 鎌倉..

Price: 890

Time: 66 minutes

Kamakura station is close to the Zeniarai (pronounced "Zeh-knee ah-rye") money washing shrine.  To get to Daibutsu & Hase-dera, once at Kamakura you should take the Enoden (Enoshima Electric Railway) 江ノ島電鉄 line towards Fujisawa藤沢 two stops to Hase 長谷 station.

 

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