The other weekend I visited Yuigahama Beach in Kamakura City to the south of Tokyo. Despite the cold winds and the chilly temperature in the ocean there were lots of surfers – just as usual. It is always interesting to go down there with a longer lens, something you can’t really do in summer for obvious reasons. A curious gentleman crow tried to join but as any beach goes knows, one does not bring for to the beaches of Japan! The crows are not as bad, it is the kites circling above you are more worried about.
The three square kilometer Lake Sagami in Sagamihara City in Kanagawa Prefecture has a comparatively short history, having only existed since 1947 when the Sagami River was damned. Its biggest claim to fame is that it was the venue for the canoeing events in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The Japanese economy was desperate for electricity after the war and to compensate the local fishing families whose income was ruined by the creation of the lake they were given economic rights to boating on the lake which is now inhabited by black bass who are notoriously difficult to catch in this lake.
I stumbled around up a large hill to the south east of the lake to take these pictures after sunset, at the Lake Sagami Pleasure Forest resort area. The lake is accessible by the Sagamiko station on the Chuo main line.
When I visited Hasedera temple in Kamakura city the main hall was undergoing renovation so I couldn’t get any good photos of it. Instead I spent the time in the vast temple gardens, full of statues, little shrines, jizo, trees, flowers and plants of all kinds. The temple is famous for the hundreds of peonies grown there, not in bloom when I was visiting though, but the kawazusakura, the plum trees and many others were.
The jizo statues of which you see so many in Japan are meant to placate the soul of children lost to miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion. The smaller ones are placed here by the parents, and they remain for a year before being removed, symbolizing the rebirth of the soul.
An interesting detail is the Manjiike (卍池), a swastika cross shaped pond. In buddhism the symbol represents eternity, and in Japan it has the added meaning of 10 000, which symbolizes “everything, the universe, the alpha and the omega”.
The great pond in Ueno, the Shinobazunoike is famous its many lotus flowers, which have been a feature of the pond since at least the Edo period. I summer it is covered in a green carpet of lotuses, but in winter the dried husks and shells of the flowers form an equally interesting and photogenic space. The pond is also the home of many birds, some of whom are more than happy to serve as models for the passing photographers!