Wednesday, March 12, 2014

One small step for me

Whenever I consider venturing out alone in a foreign country, I flash back to my time in London and my fears that kept me in the hotel room. G-man and I had big plans for the one full day we were going to be in London, but he got horrible food poisoning and the option to go out alone was paralyzing. I had never been in another country alone before, and the idea of walking around the unknown, albeit among people who spoke English, wasn’t something I could bring myself to do; much to G’s disappointment. So I stayed in the very small room, while he battled all the effects of food poisoning. Poor guy just wanted to be alone, but I couldn’t do it.

Four years later, I find myself in Japan alone, while G-man works. There are several more levels of difficulty I face than in London, but I was determined to break the little fears I had, and go explore by myself. I made sure I had everything I could think of covered. Several different train times to and from my destination and pictures of maps from the internet had me feel prepared. I don’t have cell service so it was important I thought of everything before I left, since I couldn’t do a quick lookup later.

I went to Kamakura and beside having to ask a station worker about a train, I got there without incident. I was cheering myself on in my head each step of the way as I clicked off each milestone. I walked the busy streets, and found myself at a busy restaurant eating delicious soba noodles and tempura over rice to celebrate my small victory of navigating the trains alone.
If anyone goes to Kamakura, I’ll offer this one tip: Get a map. Get a map of where every single shrine, temple, and grave is, before even stepping foot out of the train station. I couldn’t find where the maps were, but that’s only because I had the restroom as top priority, and forgot everything else, but the map is essential to navigate you through the many streets. There has to be close to 60 places to see, and you have to decide if you want to go East or West out of the train station. Since I’ve gone West twice before, I decided to go East…again, without a map.

I followed the crowds at first, and when I thought I saw what looked to be an entrance, I made my way in. This actually worked well in my favor, but over time, when I was looking for shrines (and following the minimal street signs to them), I noticed I was walking 2-3 times more than necessary because I couldn’t find them right away. I backtracked a lot. Over six hours, I managed to see three shrines, one grave, and one temple. I was beat! Almost at the end of my day, at one of the shrines was a big map of the whole city that showed the location of every place. I tried to follow it but it only helped confuse me more but this gives you an idea of what the city offers.
Here are a few (a lot) from the day. I had a great time and it helped give me a little more confidence for future adventures alone.
The only way I could include myself in any shot was to do a selfie.
The plum blossoms are blooming, which are more sparse than cherry blossoms, but none the less, beautiful.

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Becky Borgman said...

I would be intimidated too! But it looks like you made the most out of a wonderful opportunity to explore! And the pictures are amazing! said...

I couldn't do it but you got some great pictures.


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