Sunday, August 5, 2018

2018 Japan Vacation, Day 15 - An Up and Down Day in Kamakura and Enoshima

For our last excursion on this trip to Japan, we traveled south to the small coastal city of Kamakura. It is sometimes called the Kyoto of Eastern Japan as Kamakura offers numerous temples, shrines and other historical monuments.

It took about two hours to get there from my in-law's place, counting the time to walk to the train station and switch trains in Tokyo.

It was another hot and humid day. While the air temperature was only 90, the head index was over 100. And unlike other days, we would be outside much of the day.

Kai started complaining almost immediately as we walked to the Hachimangu Shrine.

Before entering the shrine, you are to cleanse your hands with the water available in the trough.

My wife scolded Kai when he poured the water on his head as it is considered extremely rude to do so.

He smiled for the following picture, but was not in a good mood.

At Japanese shrines, you can pay 100 yen for an omikuji, a fortune-telling paper strip. To get your fortune, you shake a box until a bamboo stick with a number comes out which you then exchange for your fortune. Kai got the luckiest fortune (Chu-kichi) and my wife got the next luckiest.

My fortune? Meh.

On our walk back from the shrine toward the street where we would have lunch, we stopped to get shave ice for Kai.

It didn't stop him from complaining, though.

"How long do we have to walk?"

"Oh my god, this is so boring!"

"This is the worst day so far!"

We reached Komachi Street which is a narrow strip of shops and eateries.

We all were relieved to find an air-conditioned place to sit, have lunch, and relax for a while.

Kai had a beef dish.

The rest of us had a Kamakura specialty, shirasu-don, white rice topped with sardines. It was very good!

But eventually we had to head back outside.

To get to the next site, Daibutsu, the Great Buddha of Kamakura, we walked to the station to catch the electric railway, then after getting off at our stop, we had to walk another 15 minutes or so.

It seemed much longer.

"What are we going to see? Why did we have to come all this way to see a statue?"

"When are we going home?!?!"

We took the requisite photo with Daibutsu, but none of us were particularly happy to be there.

In Japanese, there is a phrase "shikataganai" that means "it cannot be helped" or "nothing can be done about it." It is a philosophical attitude to not overly worry about things that are out of your control.

Kai has not learned shikataganai as he worries about everything, and voices his concerns and complaints loudly.

Not only was he unhappy about the heat, but he continued to express his anxiety about getting sick, something that began two days earlier. Mom was feeling better, but he still worried that he would get sick next.

"Take my temperature."

"I want my throat spray!"

"I want to take my cold medicine."

All this despite having absolutely no symptoms of being sick at all.

We stopped for soft ice cream, but no one seemed that happy as it seemed obvious that Kai's complaints would resume as soon as we stepped outside again.

What did help his attitude was when we made an unplanned visit to the beach. We had to first find a place to buy Kai a swimsuit as we had not brought his along with us.

But he was very happy in the water and stayed in for a good hour.

Before leaving the beach, we enjoyed kakigori, Japanese shave ice topped with sweet red beans and condensed milk.

Our last destination for the day was Enoshima Island where we would go to the top of the Sea Candle for a great view of the surrounding area, and then have dinner on the island.

It was a bit of a walk to the island, and Kai resumed voicing his complaints. In the following photo, you can see the Sea Candle sticking up in the distance.

There were some stairs to climb once we reached the island.

But escalators and an elevator took us most of the way to the top of the Sea Candle observation deck.

It was a nice view of the city and beaches below. On a clear day, you're supposed to be able to see Mount Fuji, but it was hazy in the distance for us.

We had dinner at a restaurant on the top of the island with great views of the ocean.

We had spaghetti with clams and two kinds of pizza: one with Japanese mushrooms and one with uni (sea urchins). Everything was delicious and the ambiance was great.

We had nice desserts as well.

From our seats in the restaurant, we got to see the sunset next to the Candle tower.

All was going well.

But as we were leaving the restaurant, Kai's anxiety about getting sick picked up again.

He got demanding about getting his cold medicine immediately when I wanted to take another photo of the sunset. Waiting a few minutes for medicine shouldn't make a difference, especially when he's not really sick!

But this caused a conflict and made for an unpleasant walk to the train station.

On the train, he looked up anxiety disorder on his smartphone and told me that is what he has and that he can't help it.

It made me think about whether Kai always been this difficult to travel with or is he actually getting worse instead of better? Or, have memories of the difficult times on past vacations just faded as I tend to remember the good times more? After years of therapy and therapeutic school, shouldn't he be getting a bit better and not worse? Is there more that we can do to help him?

At times like these, I wonder why we go on these trips with Kai. He doesn't seem to enjoy them and he takes the fun out of it for the rest of us. Part of me is thinking I don't want to do this anymore.

But with Kai, as always, we have to take the bad with the good.



  1. My daughter is a lot like your son, so I understand the frustration! But I have long admired the trips your family takes, and especially the trips to Japan.

    From my perspective as a reader of your blog, it seems like Kai has been getting progressively more flexible on these trips as the years go by. This year does seem to be an exception, but I wonder if it is mainly due to the heat. I am on the east coast in the US here, and it's been humid and in the 90s all week. It really is hard for me to function in this weather, and I think it's even harder for our kids.

    Anyway, good luck!

    1. Thanks for your perspective, Julia. Thinking back, I agree that Kai had been getting more flexible and that may have made this trip especially frustrating for us. The overwhelming heat is certainly a factor, but we have experienced similar situations on previous trips to Japan and remarked then how well Kai handled it. For whatever reason, his anxiety, especially was much worse this time.

      We'll look into adjusting medications, and speak with our family therapist as well.

      I appreciate your thoughts... it helps to hear from a fellow parent who is in the same boat!

  2. While I'm sure that I will never fully understand the extent of the challenges faced by your family, I continue to admire the way in which you and your wife persevere from a place of such love.

    Additionally, your description of "shikataganai" has led to a personal epiphany of sorts. This fully encompasses my philosophy of letting go of that which we cannot change, as well as that complaining or challenging the status quo has little value without having the desire to move forward, working towards fixing the problem. I feel that there is a catharsis in doing so. At the very least, I wish that one day Kai can come to such a place in managing his worries and anxieties, as it is a good place to be.
    With regards,

    1. Hi Edie, I think the philosophy of "shikataganai" was instilled in me from my parents, though it was more from their actions than from them talking about it. As I've grown older, it has sometimes been harder to let go of things, but having had that mindset from a young age has helped. I sometimes feel like nothing I tell Kai sticks with him, but hopefully he will understand the value of "shikataganai" at some point.

      Thanks so much for your thoughts and support!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...