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Thursday, June 24

Misty Mornings Spent at Kamakurayama's Rai Tei

In the essence of our continuing goodbyes, our neighbor planned one more magnificent outing for us to share together.  Hidden in the mountains around the city of Kamakura is a place called Rai Tei.  On this misty, warm June morning, it was the perfect place for spending time reflecting on Japan and the many friendships we have made here.
A little history of this place with the majestic views of  Kamakurayama begins with its establishment in 1928 as part of a Japanese resort cottage subdivision, but in 1969, the owner converted it into a soba (buckwheat noodle) and traditional cuisine restaurant.  The main building was actually constructed during the Edo period and relocated to its current site as a residence for a wealthy farming family from nearby Yokohama city.  The entrance gate, San-mon, was erected in 1642 formerly at the Juen-zan Koshou-ji Temple in the Kamakura area, but when the temple was relocated to a different prefecture in 1931, the gate was erected here at Rai Tei.  

While the building and gate are extraordinary, it is the gardens here that I am in awe of.  A circuit-style garden covering approximately 50,000 square meters has views of everything from Buddha sculptures to 5-storied pagodas to nature in all its incredible glory.  On a clear day, Mt. Fuji will even make her surreal appearance over the mountains' treetops.  Of course, our drizzly day would not allow for that kind of long-distance view, but I was contented enough by simply basking in the cool breezes of the bamboo groves.  

Our friend held the hand of Kimono Peanut as he happily, despite it being somewhat laborious for his shorter legs, climbed up and down the moss-covered rock paths.  He remained his usual cheerful self, that lives to be out-of-doors every moment he possibly can, and waved hello to every single passerby, even when one small group forced him so far off the narrow pathway that he slide down a steep, wet incline into the tall grasses and mud of forest around him.  Not a tear did he shed, as he dusted off and continued dragging our friend onward.

Also eager to try the food after our little hike, we found a table next to the window where we could peer out into garden and beyond into the misty mountains.  We took off our shoes and sat down on the tatami mat in front of the low table, a table which turned out to be several hundred years old.  While it has surely stood the test of time, I was extra cautious to keep my wee boy, known for his awesome pounding skills, a bit further back from it than I normally would.  Soba is generally one of KP's favorite meals, but sadly on this day, he couldn't sit still long enough to eat for the life of him.  We each had a plate of soba and tempura, but I am sorry to report that I didn't spend much time tasting what I was eating and instead wolfed it down in my best effort possible to get KP out of there before the neighboring tables or the establishment threw him out.  He was all too thrilled when we put his shoes back on him and left him run out the door and back into the gardens.  If it hadn't been for a heavier rain coming down, we would have tried to spend more time meandering, but as it was, we decided to head back before we were all drenched.

As we headed home, all I could think about was how much I wish we could have visitors, particularly my mom, in Japan one more time.  Because this is the kind of place that my Japanese dreams are made of.


Carolyn said...

Karen; What about your favorite Aunt. You know that I enjoyed all the gardens we saw while visiting with you and Greg. There was so much more to see and so little time to do it all in but maybe some year in the future we will get back to beautiful Japan. Can't wait to visit you here in USA. Aunt Carolyn

Kimono Karen said...

Definitely join us! Want to plan a trip for next spring? I'm ready to come back already and I haven't even left!