Saturday, September 26, 2009

Riding The Train

As part of our Intercultural Relations training, we took our first train ride to Kamakura, once the capital of Japan. We each got a train card, instead of just a ticket for the day. The town is much smaller and more manageable than Yokosuka and we browsed some shops. I’m on the lookout for some interesting items to have on hand for gifts. We were also browsing for lunch. Most local restaurants have plastic food in the window to let you know what they serve.

The majority is pretty recognizable (rice, beef, shrimp), but sometimes, I just don’t have a clue. If there is no English speaking waiter, someone will step outside so you can point to your choice. We were lucky in Kamakura, lunch was very good. We are loving the food in Japan.

After our shopping and eating time, we met a group for a tour to the local Shinto Shrine. To visit a shrine, you pass through three gates, (To-ree-ee) one to purify the mind, one the body and one the soul. Here's Allan headed for body purification. As you approach the shrine, you wash your hands (and we rinsed our mouths). Now you are worthy to step inside and pray.

Here Allan is washing his hands in preparation to go up to the Shrine.

Don't the girls in the orange skirts look very traditional?

Back in the station for our return to Yokosuka, we were suddenly surrounded by little girls, probably 1st graders, dressed in school uniforms. They waited with us and, carrying their bookbags, boarded and rode the train without pomp or commotion.

QUICK LESSON - The two major religions of Japan are Shinto and Buddhism. A shrine is a Shinto structure, while a temple is Buddhist. Don't say Buddhist Shrine to an oriental.

Followers of the two religions co-exist very well and our guide tells us that Buddhist monks will visit a Shinto shrine to pray. Aims of both religions are tranquility and peace with nature. It works well. The people here are happy and easy going

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