Yokohama. Check. Hakone. Check. Kamakura. Check, check. Well, folks, there’s a lot more to Kanagawa than its three most famous places. Why not join me this fall and winter on a journey of discovery to lesser known but highly deserving destinations around the prefecture? First up: the beautiful Manazuru peninsula, on Saturday Oct. 3.
Manazuru is a very old town, traditionally centered on fishing and stone cutting. It is most famous for its Kibune Matsuri festival, held every July, and komatsu-ishi 小松石, a local stone used in constructing Edo Castle and many traditional Japanese gardens. (This stone was also used for the exterior walls of the Western-style house in the Kyu-Furukawa Garden in Tokyo, not to mention the outdoor tables at Roku Roku sushi restaurant in the Hyatt in Roppongi. How’s that for trivia?)
Today, Manazuru is known in city-planning circles for its emphasis on preserving local beauty and nature. In particular, it is noted for the O-Hayashi お林(“Great Woods”), a forest on the end of the peninsula that has been undisturbed since the Edo Period.
We’ll start our tour of Manazuru with a ride on a sightseeing boat to get an overview of the peninsula from the water, passing rock quarries and commercial fishing sites with nets in the water. And we’ll get a great view of the O-Hayashi as well as the famous Mitsui Ishi (三ツ石) “Three Rocks”).
Having a woods so close to the ocean creates a unique eco-system because nutrients from the leaves dropped by the trees are carried by rain into the ocean, providing food for a wide range of fish. That’s why it’s also called the “uo-tsuki hayashi” 魚付き林 (“woods with fish”).
We’ll go into the woods in the company of the gūji 宮司 (priest) of Kibune Shrine 貴船神社 to an little branch shrine deep among the trees, where he’ll explain and demonstrate for us the Shinto rite that is performed there every year to protect the local fishermen and ensure good catches.
We’ll have a chance to experience that bounty for ourselves, through a very leisurely barbecue lunch at an organic lemon farm overlooking the sea.
Provided we can still move after lunch, we’ll visit the Nakagawa Kazumasa Museum at the edge of the O-Hayashi. Nakagawa was a painter who worked in oils and Western style, making Manazuru his base for over 50 years as he painted local views again and again. The museum building won some important prizes for its architect, Yanagisawa Takahiko 柳澤孝彦, who also designed Tokyo Opera City in Tokyo, and features local stone for its floors.
Nakagawa practiced the tea ceremony, so he asked for a tea room when they built the museum. It’s never, ever been done before, but we’ve received special permission to host a mini tea ceremony, demonstrated for us by local volunteers, in this beautiful tea room overlooking the lush green of the O-Hayashi.
Finally, we’ll visit the Endo Shell Museum at the tip of the cape, where we can learn about the ocean eco-system, and see a rare shell –only three known examples in the world!
I’ve built in some free time after, in which you can stay longer in the shell museum, take a coffee at a seaside café, explore the woods or go to the rocky shore to walk and hunt for starfish and crabs. The view from the tip of the cape over the Sagami Bay towards Atami and Izu is really nice. If anyone wants to be run back to the station for an early departure (around 4 pm) the bus can make a round trip during this period. Otherwise, we will all return to the station around 5 pm, timed for return trains.
The cost is 10,000 yen per person, including the boat ride, a donation to the shrine, lunch, both museum admissions and a charter bus to get us from place to place within Manazuru. I realize that sounds expensive for a day trip, but there’s a lot packed in there and the lunch is way better than average. And this is actually half what it would normally cost to do this tour, thanks to a government subsidy (your tax yen at work) to promote tourism in Kanagawa.
The group will be limited to 20 people and I do think this is going to fill up quickly. If you’re interested please sign up as soon as possible. I have to apologize in advance because the online reservation system is not yet as user-friendly for foreigners.
You’ve got two options, neither of which go as smoothly as they should (we’ll be working on this, I promise). First, Tabee Japan This page is kindly all in English, sort of, but is finicky. Start by clicking on the circle on Oct. 3. Alternately, if you can read enough Japanese to sign up for things online, you can try Kanagawa Chikatabi. The text about the tour is in English but the instructions are in Japanese. When you enter your name, do it all in capital letters. I’ve heard that works better.
If you have any trouble, please contact me through the contact page on this blog and I’ll get you signed up.
One final note: the next trip, to Oyama on Oct. 31 will be a knock-out. We’ll do an overnight trekking trip in Tanzawa in November (fall colors!) and a tour of sake breweries around Gotanda in February.