3:39 PM

Sagami-gawa River Koi Nobori Festival

This is an adventure! If you are not able to travel past your comfort levels, it is not recommended. The Koi Nobori Festival held annually at the Sagami-gawa River in Sagami is a local festival that is gradually gaining popularity throughout the region...into globally. (Kanagawa being the region & Yokosuka being the not so local.)

They string about 1,200 carp fish flags over the river in celebration of children! The koi (carp) & nobori (flag) was introduced to Japan was originally for Boys' Day or "Tango No Sekku", encouraging them to grow up brave, strong, & successful, which many Japanese still hold true to this tradition. Today (since 1948) it is now a representation of Children's Day, May 5th, to represent "energy, strength, & perseverance." Adding children's day into the "Golden Week" allowed the Japan by law to have an entire week of vacation! Many corporations extend this into two weeks...

I am personally obsessed with these flags & the little representation of them in other forms. Maybe because I am a new mom to a miracle: a son, maybe because I love gold fish or koi, or maybe it is both! Seeing them flowing in the breeze makes my heart lighten up just as much as seeing big white sails on open water! For me, this was a trip that was worth a little effort.

The traditional order of hanging is: Black = father, red = mother, & then one additional smaller carp for each child. Red & white ribbons are often added to symbolize the water. The Chinese legend says that is a carp swam up river he would transform into a dragon that went to heaven.

http://koinobori.fr/en/les-origines-japonaises-2/

http://homepage3.nifty.com/hinaya/sekku,eng.htm

You don't realize how globally these string of fish are until you see them on a DIY site! http://www.diylife.com/2008/05/05/fish-kites-for-childrens-day/

DIRECTION TO SAGAMI-GAWA RIVER & PARK:
*Note: there is no English out this way, maybe a number or a hello, but that is it. If you are going, take your notes with you, written in print so that they can help.
  • Go to the Sagamihara Station
  • Take bus #17 from bus pole #5... bus pole will be in the middle right by the stairs. (There are other buses that go that way, but 17 will be the least "rural" in transit).
  • 30 minute ride to last stop, you will know it is the last stop when the bus pulls into a small rural semi-circle area with stone sign & parks (there may or may not be other buses or people). If you feel like you are getting off in the middle of nowhere, yet a nice neighborhood, you are at the right spot. 310 yen you pay on your way off...
  • Leave the bus parking & go LEFT up the road
  • Take the FIRST RIGHT only a few yards up...
  • Take the FIRST LEFT again, it will have a double mirror pole in the corner... the road you turn onto will be windy &/or curvy looking
  • Turn RIGHT at the Yamasaki store or the red & yellow "Y" store.
  • Walk straight on that road, no turns...
  • Pass a tori gate on your right
  • Up the little hill
  • POOF! You are there!
STROLLERS -
With no more than 3 strollers per bus you can do this. Also, though there may be stops closer to the park, it will be very hard or impossible to load & unload with the strollers, so be sure to use the stop listed above both ways.

When you get to the park, you will need to walk along the top ridge to your right, all the way down until you get to the ramp that then brings you down to the lower level or the actual "park". You will find restrooms this way too... not baby friendly.

3:33 PM

Camera Armor

OK, I am the biggest klutz. An expensive camera is truly the last thing I should be allowed to carry, yet I have a nice one... add the lenses & I have an overly retarded expensive one!


The other day I had to toss my camera down to catch my infant son who was falling from a rock into some rocks (he just learned he could semi-crawl that morning)! I was certain it was all over. The camera was now broke &/or the lens was damaged for good. I didn't care at the moment, ... however once we both stopped crying, I found it hard to keep clicking away knowing it was pointless.

Then I got home, plugged it in to review the damage, & it was perfect! Nothing was broke! Not even a scratch or a blurry image (well besides those from my son being tied to me & kicking)! WHY?

Camera Armor! I had gotten this a few years back as more of an extra grip for my clumsy hands...kind of like a grip for a gun. I never even thought about the product past that point. I have had a few bumps here & there, but this was the first actual test of the armor.

I am now a believer & wanted to share this with everyone! If you have a camera worth protecting, especially you professionals, check this out! You definitely need it in your equipment bag!


3:45 PM

Ofunakannon-ji Temple


A newer temple devoted to the events of the Atomic Bomb, nestled away in Ofuna, Kamakura, Japan, right outside the Ofuna Train Station.

This beautiful white lady Buddha is made from concrete completely poured by hand... no trucks. Some of the stones are remains from Hiroshima & Nagasaki. An eternal flame continues to burn here, just as it does in Hiroshima, until all nuclear war weapons are abolished. The symbolism of peace are throughout the entire temple & grounds... though small, well worth a day of just a visit, picnic & reflection.

This temple is not an easy little "just get off the train & follow the crowds" like many temples are in Kamakura... this one actually takes a little thought & some help from the locals, iPhone google maps, or someone else who has been. Once you leave Ofuna Station via the South Gate (not the North Gate which many Yokosuka people will come up at), you cross the canal, take a left to the end of the sidewalk, then a right & an immediate right ... along a very exclusive looking alley way. A few yards in you will see two stone lanterns with a sign in kanji & 300 yen (adults), 100 yen (children). That is all the signing you will find on your way.

As you stand at the base of the hill in front of you wondering if this is possibly the right place... take a deep breath & bite down hard... it is a steep hike up & back down... and not with stairs! I kind of was reminded of Mt. Fuji... straight up!

I highly recommend that you pack a lunch to take with you & spend the day. You can get cold beverages at the temple. Once you are up, it is beautiful!


DIRECTIONS:

  • Take the train to Ofuna Station
  • When you arrive at Ofuna you will come up at the North Gate (for most all my fellow Japan dwellers) DO NOT EXIT
  • Walk down the big center hall way past a lot of yummy little bakeries! Yummm...
  • You will now be at the South Gate... EXIT
  • Then go to your right towards what looks like the back of the station (STROLLERS) You will find a small hallway to an elevator... it is large enough for 4 adults with 4 single large strollers easily... take it down
  • You will come out at an small intersection. You will need to cross the canal (over the bridge)
  • Once all the way across take a left down the sidewalk to the first road,
  • Turn right at that road/end of sidewalk (you will be looking at a hill & currently construction at that little intersection)
  • Then take the next immediate right (before the hill) down what looks like an exclusive alley... remember to be quieter & respectful
  • Walk a few yards in & you will see 2 stone lanterns... a sign with kanji with 300 yen (adults), 100 yen (children).
  • You will be at the base of a rather steep hill, with determination, strollers can go up! They will guide you at the top where to park them.

STROLLERS, you will want to either have a child that walks or a carrier to switch over to for the grounds.