Nov. 22, 2007
Kamakura, Japan -
Happy Thanksgiving from Japan! With thoughts of family and friends back home in the states preparing for Thanksgiving in familiar ways, we celebrated this holiday in a new fashion. After a delicious and early (no time to waste we're only in Japan for so long!) breakfast, we set out for the historical city of Kamakura. Once the capital of Japan, this beautiful town is also the site of a phenomenal 11.31 meter Buddha.
Originally protected from the elements by an enclosure, it has survived snow, rain, sun, wind, and even earthquakes ever since the enclosure was swept away by a tsunami centuries ago. The Buddha dates back to 1252, and even though it is a major tourist destination, it had an old world charm and a permeating sense of peace to the place.
We took a train to another part of Kamakura to visit one of the country's largest temples. Kenji, our guide, told us that seeing all of the temples and the sites in the surrounding area would take days, so we set our sights on one--the Engakuji Temple. Founded in 1282 to commemorate the deaths of soldiers killed during the Mongols' attempted invasion of Japan, it was surrounded by cedar trees, prayer flags, wooden bridges, and koi (carp fish) filled streams.
Arriving at the perfect time, we were able to watch a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony that happened to be taking place at the base of the temple. At the top of the many steps leading to the temple doors, a few of the freshman went to a stand to receive their fortunes. One of the freshman, Ashley, was devastated with her less-than-optimistic prognosis. When she tried to tie it to the string holding all other bad fortunes, it ripped, at which point Kenji gasped, "this is worse!" After Ashley finally succeeded in attaching the fortune, we all walked back into the town to do some shopping and forget the terrible fortune ordeal (the vending machine ice cream always helps too!).
We returned to the hotel for our pregame meal (which included turkey!), and left for the game stadium. Traveling by subway with a group of 36 is always an adventure, but our sprints and weight room training have proved to come in handy when racing for crowded trains and pushing our way on. After a short warm-up, the anthems were played and the game was underway. Waseda gave a great effort, showing off their midfield speed on a number of fast breaks, but in the end we came out as the victors. It was great to catch up with several of their players who had come to the Stanford Lacrosse Camp, as well as Thea Lorentzen, a Stanford lacrosse alumni currently working and living in Tokyo.
After the game we all went to a nearby restaurant to celebrate Thanksgiving with somewhat less-traditional food. After beef bowls, curry, sundaes, and laughs all around, we quickly realized that midnight, when the subways stop running, was quickly approaching. Luckily though, we all made it back safe, and fell asleep almost immediately after a truly memorable Thanksgiving in Japan.