annual event


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April

4th Tokimune Festival at Engakuji
Tokimune Hojo (1251-1284), the founder of Engakuji and the Eighth Hojo Regent, died on April 4, 1284 at age 33. On his anniversary day, a tea party is held every year at Butsunichi-an in Engakuji to cherish his memory. In 2001, NHK (a state-run broadcasting corp.) will feature the saga of Tokimune in its 45-minute weekend drama. Kamakura will be more crowded in the year.
8th The Buddha's Birthday Festival
In Japan, Buddha's birthday is believed to be April 8 and its festival and religious services called Kotan-e {koh-tan-eh} is held on this day in many temples. Traditionally, hydrangea tea is served to the visitors. At Gokurakuji, the statue of Shaka Nyorai, which are usually closed to the public, will be unveiled on April 7, 8 and 9, and the Ninsho Tower on April 8.
From second Sunday
through third Sunday
Kamakura Festival
Festive activities can be observed all over the city during the week such as parades, open-air tea ceremony. The festivals are sponsored by Kamakura Tourist Association (Phone:0467-23-3050) to attract as many tourists as possible at this best season of the year. It started in 1959 and more than 800,000 tourists visit here during the week. Among the tourist attractions are:
Second Sunday: Dancing ceremony in remembrance of Lady Shizuka at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Third Sunday: Yabusame or horseback archery at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

(Several temples whose Buddha statues are usually not open to the public used to be exhibited for occasional visitors during the festival days until 1997, but not any longer, probably because those visitors, mostly tourists, did not behave themselves in the face of the statues. Some temples clearly warn that the statues are not artifacts, not the object of appreciation, but the sacred object of worship, and therefore, sightseers should revere the statues in respectful manner.)

May

5th Iris Festival at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Iris, which is believed to clear away miasma, is dedicated to the alter and court-dance and court-music are played.
5th Kiyomasa Festival at Myohoji
Kiyomasa Kato (1562-1611) is known as one of the most brave samurai as well as an adherent of Nichiren sect Buddhism. His statue is enshrined in this temple.
5th Kusajishi {koo-sah-gee-she} Festival at Kamakuragu Shrine
Archers with ancient headgear and clad in ancient garbs shoot arrows at the target made to imitate deer in the grass, reciting old, literary language.
Second weekend
of May
Display of Shariden, Engakuji
Shariden of Engakuji, the oldest building in Kamakura and a National Treasure, is usually off-limits to sightseers. However, at this time of the year, the temple makes it open to the public with an additional charge of 300-yen. But, they are not allowed to go inside the structure.
28th Annual Festival at Shirahata Jinja, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Shirahata Jinja is a sub-shrine located in the compounds of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu and dedicated to the spirits of Yoritomo Minamoto and his second son Sanetomo (the Third Shogun).

June

3rd Annual Festival at Kuzuharagaoka Shrine
On this day of 1332, Toshimoto Hino, a loyalist for Emperor Godaigo, was executed as a result of the unsuccessful coup attempt. A memorial service is held in homage to his dedication and loyalty toward the Imperial Court.
30th Purification Ceremony at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
The rite of atonement for the sinful acts and purification for the past six months will be observed.
Late June Kamakura beaches open for swimmers
Beaches in Kamakura are a popular resort for the young, and even in winter you will see surfers off the coast. In summer, hordes of bathers crowd on the beach and on the road along the beach, the notorious motorbikes are running around the clock. Unlike some parts of American seashore, all beaches are open to the public in Japan except for the areas protected under the fishermen's right. From the opening days, makeshift locker-room will be available for the swimmers or sun-bathers. Shortly before the opening day, the Health Authorities of the Prefectural government announce every year whether or not sea water is clean enough for swimmers. They group beaches by criteria of ranging from "Very Good", "Good", "Suitable", "Not suitable". Oddly enough, scarcely has there been a beach which was categorized as "Not suitable" to the best of my recollection. The authorities judge water quality with the number of colon bacillus and Chemical Oxygen Demand count in the sampled water. Appearance of the sea water does not matter. I have once heard the Far East Radio Network telling the American Forces and their families that they should not swim around here simply because they are dirty. Yes, they are dirty with muddy water and scattered garbage. Kamakura has two beaches, one Yuigahama {you-e-gah-hah-mah} and the other Zaimokuza {zye-moh-koo-zah} divided by the mouth of the Nameri river. Quality of river water is far from clean. How can one judge the beaches divided by dirty river are clean? Probably, there may be a story similar to Peter Benchley's Jaws behind the judgment. Japanese sense of cleanness may differ from that of the Westerners'. On weekends, beaches are awfully crowded with beachcombers and swimmers. We Japanese phrase it "like potato washing" or like a bunch of potato colliding and bobbing about in a sink full of water. Most girls with bikini wears are enjoying sunbathing sprawling on the sand, expecting to have suntans as beautiful as those of Caucasian girls. They don't know yellow skin never gets as beautiful.


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