Training hike 2: Kamakura Trail Run

Temples, shrines, jungly hills, ocean views, and a (relatively) quiet beach: all make for a great 10k training run.

After passing a couple old temples crowed with tourists, the run began with a hundred or so meters of vertical climb, then cruised up and down along a ridge line until 6km later we dropped down to my favorite zen temple in the Kanto, Zuisenji.  Watch out for hawks while you’re eating: one grabbed a onigiri (rice ball) from my hand. While I was eating it. With razor sharp talons. But this was 4 years ago, and The Lady-Friend reminded me of how tired she was of hearing this story.

Towards the end of the ridge we passed 10-20 small caves used as graves, mediation spaces, statuaries and memorials by the monks from Zuizenji for the last 600 or so years. All along the narrow  ridge the rock underfoot was worn smooth by hundreds of years of traffic; it’s hard to comprehend that kind of scale for someone from the Pacific Northwest.

From Zuisenji, we jogged through a neighborhood of old houses and temples before climbing 100m back up another ridge to see our final destination: beach!

On the way up, we passed the location of the last stand of the Kamakura bafuku, Tosho-ji. After losing a battle that would move Japan’s capital to Kyoto in 1333, the officers and family of the Kamakura regent barricaded themselves inside a temple and immolated themselves. In a hillside cave behind the temple countless others committed seppuku. Over 870 died in what is now nothing more than a grass field; three rather shabby houses now over look the site.

The Lady-Friend stopped me from going to look at the cave: a sign warned that visitors should avoid disturbing the spirits still struggling to find peace.

Running down the last 1.5km from the overlook, we passed through the middle preparations for a children’s festival. Mikoshi (portable shrines), floats for the drummers, and eager kids wielding inflatable swords and toy guns, we all getting ready for an evening of running the Mikoshi in and out of the ocean to the cheers and chants of drunk bystanders  (once I was sleeping on this beach at 4am and was woken up by a similar ritual, nothing better than running a portable shrine into the ocean, even at that hour).

We hoped in the water and swam until my calves started to cramp in rebellion to my poor attempts at body surfing. We hit up a bar over looking the beach, listened to the distant drumming start the festival as we ambled to the station, and went home for a hot bath at the sento. It was one of those days were I feel like we lived the good life despite Tokyo’s insatiable appetite for stress.

Directions etc:
Starts from Kita-Kamakura (JR Yokosuka and Shonan-Shinjuku lines) and ends at Kamakura (JR Yokosuka and Shonan-Shinjuku lines, and the very fun Eno-Den).  There are a variety of routes, some heading for the Daibutsu and others along the ridge towards Zuisenji. A great way to experience a different, less crowded, side of Kamakura.
  • Recommended beach-side fare: Seedless
  • Great map: Kamakura City Map The hiking courses are in red, this route takes the right-most two.

Gear:

  • An 8 year  old camel back MULE I won in a high school raffle (too heavy to be worth weighing)
  • Platypus 2L with drinking hose
  • Light load towel (love it)
  • The beat up shoes in the picture above
  • An assortment of The Lady-Friend’s stuff, works well since I’m training. I might have encouraged her to bring more just for the dead weight…

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About hamilton

Walking, Walking!
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