Act Two — Kanagawa
We waved bye to Chiba and made way for Kanagawa Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, by ferry. While most visitors to Japan use the shinkansen, if you're traveling by car, or just prefer the aquatic route, the Tokyo-Wan Ferry will get you there very quickly.
After a fully vegetarian lunch, one similar to what Buddhist monks would have eaten, we were ready to explore the new surroundings in Kanagawa Prefecture. It was time to get those beautiful bamboo-filled Instagram-worthy shots. And Hokokuji Temple, also called the "bamboo temple of Kamakura," is an exceptional place to visit. Hokokuji, easily accessible from Kamakura Station by bus, is nothing short of a spiritual sanctuary where you can bathe in the sunlight streaming through the over 2,000 bamboo stalks.
We were especially lucky to be there while the autumn leaves were still out, creating an absolutely stunning contrast of gold and crimson against the emerald green.
Highlighting the experience is the small café nestled in the forest serving green tea and traditional confections.
Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine
The next stop on our day in Kamakura involves seeing Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine, the most important Shinto shrine in the city, and one of the best-known shrines in Japan. No first visit to Kamakura is complete without seeing this perfect blend of traditional architecture and natural beauty.
From the looming building atop the steps to the gorgeous red bridges and the pond full of fish and waterfowl, there are so many things to see and do here. Weddings are common at this shrine, and if you're lucky, you'll see a beautiful bride in white making the procession to the central area to be married.
Kraig is now an expert at washing before entering a temple or shrine. But, we all marveled at the wave of calmness we felt watching the water flowing gracefully from the two-headed bamboo water pipe.
Don't forget to get a group shot under the large red torii gate! Next to Kraig is a fellow traveler, and talented photographer, André Mazzone. His stunning Instagram shots throughout the trip might just be the push you needed to pack your bags.
Day two of Kanagawa Prefecture brought us out to Lake Sagami (or Sagamiko, 相模湖). Another gorgeous place to visit in autumn, this lake presented another wonderful opportunity for Kraig to get some spectacular drone footage. The autumn foliage was absolutely stunning!
Thrill seekers near Lake Sagami should make it out to the Sagamiko Pleasure Forest, home to an exciting obstacle course called the Muscle Monster. Perched on the mountainside, this three-story climbing frame gives you the chance to experience adrenaline-pumping activities (while safely harnessed). With over 90 activities and a phenomenal panoramic view of the park and the Sagamiko area, we are sure you'll have a fantastic time. And if you're visiting in the winter, be sure to stay for the nighttime illumination.
Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architecture Museum
If you're looking for something a little more historical, the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architecture Museum is just the place for you. Kraig had the opportunity to learn about the evolution of houses in Japan throughout the eras. The traditional homes standing aside Japanese homes that were inspired by Western ones gave a startling contrast and was more remarkable than just looking at a book or picture.