2022 Atsumi Scholars August Gathering Report

On July 15, 2022, the 2021 and 2022 fellows and foundation staff came together, and the August regular gathering, "Kamakura hiking," kicked off.

We all met up at 10am at Kita Kamakura station on the JR Yokosuka line, and set off for Tokeiji temple. Secretary General Tsunoda-san told us about the history of the temple. Tokeiji was the starting point for Suzuki Daisetsu's research, and we learned that the temple was famous for being the place where he shared Japanese "Zen thought" with the world. The temple is also known for housing the graves of famous philosophers, literati, and artists. While walking we explored the graves of these cultural figures. Zahra-san from Iran was the most skillful at spotting famous graves. She succeeded in finding not only the grave of the painter Maeda Seison, but also that of Watsuji Tetsurou, a philosopher in her field of research.

In Vienna, where I'm from, there are actually many old, extravagant graves, and Viennese enjoy walking through them and visiting the graves of famous musicians or Habsburg nobility. I remember often walking through these graves as a child with my father.

After that, we leisurely enjoyed tea at a cafe before making our way to the kaiseki restaurant "Hachi no ki" for lunch. A gorgeous kaiseki lunch was prepared for us, and everyone looked like they were thoroughly enjoying the meal. Maria from Russia and I don't eat animal products, and a special vegetarian full course obento had been ordered for us from a different specialist store. The obentos had to be picked up from Tokyo, and were delivered in a very big, square rucksack. This might have been the first time I'd eaten such a carefully prepared, extravagant meal in Japan. As vegetarians our options are always limited, and most of the time eating out is a rather simple affair. But the obento was incredibly colorful, with a great variety of flavors. I especially enjoyed the asparagus tempura and the vegetables with the sweet and sour sauce. And without saying, the vegan salmon-it looked just like the real thing. I am incredibly thankful to everyone who went to the effort of preparing this for us.

At the end of the meal we had matcha and wagashi (Japanese sweets), and with full bellies walked to Kenchoji temple. I've been to Kamakura a number of times, but it was my first time coming here. The "unryuuzu" (painting of a dragon flying in the clouds, often painted on the ceilings of Zen temples) of the "five taloned dragon" in the law hall left a particularly deep impression. According to the explanation, the number of talons a dragon had was representative of social class in ancient China. In Japan, dragons are generally depicted with three talons. It seems that only the emperor of China was allowed to use the "five taloned dragon," and the dragon in the law hall is very significant. In the middle of the tour it started to rain heavily, and we even got a taste of what it might feel like to be in training and walking underneath a waterfall.

To end, we walked in the heavy rain to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, and after paying our respects to the gods there we dispersed. It was a very leisurely hike through Kamakura, punctuated with breaks, chats, and mealtime, but thanks to the weather it felt like an adventure, and a day that would "live on in memory."

(Nora Beryll Weinek)

Photos of the day