YKRF Forum [Day 4] in TOKYO

Monday, 6 February 2017

What is visiting a country without going sightseeing, right? So Day 4 of the YKRF Forum was a one-day field trip out with our sightseeing groups. We all went as an entity to Kamakura, one of the well-known tourist areas in Tokyo that included the huge Buddha statue, Kotoku-in. Kamakura is a huge area in Tokyo that encompasses many different areas and many different attractions that are within travel distance (by train, taxi or even foot!). The thing about traveling with locals is that as we go around, we do not worry about where we are, or if we are lost, because we have them to lead us all around. 

I believe we all started at Kamakura station where we started walking on a long pathway that led us to a temple up on a huge flight of stairs. The weather was sweltering and the sun was beating down on our backs but no amount of sweating stopped us from walking there (guess we couldn't quit and leave either). 

There are many types of these shrine-like shacks in Japan, especially when you are nearing certain temples or shrines, or any sacred places for that matter. They're for you to wash your hands, and some drink the water and I guess it's known to be a type of holy water that cleanses you before you head into the temple. 

They would make a wish here and toss money that bounces off the net in front and falls down into the collection area

Next we headed to this place where people draw luck lots. I believe you might have heard of this before or know what it is.. but if you don't, it's something like a cup that has many sticks inside with a lid that has a small hole (which fits the size of a stick). The thing is you shake it till a stick slides through the hole, showing a certain number and they then give you a lot that corresponds to that number. Photos were not allowed so therefore I couldn't snap one of the lot drawing. It costs 100yen per try.

If you get a good lot, you keep it with you wherever you go so that everything inside will come to pass. However, if you were to get a bad lot or a mediocre one that has some events which you do not like, you tie it to a designated area within the temple and this dispels the bad luck that should befall you according to the lot. I don't really have a total belief in this but I did it just for the experience. Got a lot that was so-so but it had a few predictions which I didn't like so I ended up tying it there. 

My sightseeing group! 

Thereafter we were given time to walk by ourselves to meet at the Kotoku-in (the huge Buddha statue) by a certain time so we went off in our sightseeing groups. Stopped by a few shops to have a look and get some ice cream to cool ourselves off. It was extremely hot, the hottest period to be in Tokyo to be accurate. 

Arrived at the train station, got our tickets for the Enoden (Enoshima Train) which brought us to Hase Station where it was a roughly 20-minute walk to the location. A big plus was Pokemon Go, girl friends with umbrellas and of course, the beautiful scenery around me that helped to distract us from the relentless heat. 

Another one of those water shrines I mentioned!

And this.. is the famous Kotoku-in, which is a giant Buddha statue; one of the famous tourist hotspots that people definitely visit when they're in Tokyo. It's quite a lengthly trip to be taking if you're staying in central Tokyo but definitely worth coming if you've never seen it before. The architecture and craftsmanship is spectacular. It was so hot that everyone started to hide under the shade and hydrate. 

YKRF 2016!

Headed for lunch nearby before we were given free time to travel to a few designated locations. We picked Enoshima Island for the nature, beach and scenery that we wouldn't be able to get by going to a city area. Of course, we were giving up mega malls with air-conditioning but it's something that we'd probably regret so we chose to head to Enoshima. 

Arrived at Enoshima and the water, clear sky and summer breeze was just beautiful. I've never understood when people got excited about beaches since Singapore is surrounded by water and has so many beaches, but then I realised how beautiful a beach could be, especially when the waters were clear and the sky was beautiful. 

Stopped by a cafe for a breather before we headed back out into the scorching heat to the next location: Sakuragicho Station. It's where a Pokemon Center (a huge pokemon store) was located and it was said that there would be a Pikachu March there. It's just a huge line of Pikachus walking from one location to another and we were all excited to see that so we headed there! 

There was a little pokemon exhibition or festival going on and we got Pikachu hats! So we kept on walking to where the March would be held but to our dismay, we found out that we actually missed the timing and the next show was the next day... So I guess I missed it once in Korea and I was destined to miss it a second time in Japan!!! T.T I hope one day I'll actually get to catch it!

Decided not to let that sadden us and continued walking towards an area which looked nothing like Japan. It was some sort of a festival or carnival being held and people were enjoying themselves, drinking, dancing and just relaxing under shelter. Continued walking around snapping photos and just looking around and finally the time had come for us to head to the final meeting point: Ramen Museum!

We arrived at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum where we were given coupons to order either 2 mini ramen bowls, or 1 huge ramen bowl. This place is home to many different ramen shops and because of that you can find the one that suits your tastebuds the best, or just have the one that you'd like to try. I'm not sure if it was the summer heat, but I just did not have much appetite. Went with friends to have the first bowl and did not know where to use my second one. Walked around for a long time and then even sat down to watch a little magic performance, but it took me a while before I wanted to eat again. 

The entire place was huge and was underground. The first floor where the entrance is located is a little museum where you can learn about the difference in ramen. Then when you head down the stairs you come into a 1970-esque street style neighborhood with many ramen stores that have their different uniqueness in terms of soup, taste and noodle texture. I really can't remember which one we decided to have (and also since it was in Japanese) but we just followed our Japanese friend. 

The magic performance was really cute and it was a lot about love where they got couples to do cute lovey-dovey acts and got their partners to do something for their other half too. After watching, I felt really tired and decided to just go for any ramen that was popular and then call it a night. Arrived back at the hotel all tired, went to bed early since we were to have another round of seminar on the final day of the forum. Till then, stay tuned for Day 5!! Here's a picture of the ramen :D

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