Tokyo is one of the worlds most exciting cities, full of bright neon lights, bustling shopping streets, high tech gadgets, and anything else you can imagine to excite the most seasoned and adventurous of travellers. But with all this excitement and adventure, even the most energetic adventurers find themselves searching for a an oasis, a place to relax away. Just a 45 minute train ride along the Ueno line, Kamakura is just the place.
Known as the Kyoto of the east, this city was once the shogunate capital of Japan. This ancient city bordered by sandy beaches, intertwined by lush jungle and green rolling hills is full of hidden treasures waiting to be explored. You can expect to find over a dozen temples and shrines worth visiting, some of the most delicious food you’ve ever tasted, and great shopping opportunities along komachi-dori.
Kamakura is dotted with temples. Every side street, every corner, and every path leading to something exciting. If you were to choose a path from one attraction to the next, chances are you’ll find yourself distracted by an unanticipated adventure. With all these choices, where should you go? Let us narrow it down for you with some of our favourites.
Located in the centre of Kamakura and the beginning of the main street Wakamiya Oji, Hachimangū is the most important Shinto shrine in the city of Kamakura. This temple was founded by Minamoto Yoriyoshi in 1063. Hachimangu is dedicated to Hachiman, hence the name, the god of the Minamoto family and of the samurai. From the top of the main staircase, are some of the most beautiful views of Kamakura. This is also the perfect place to watch the sun set over the city.
Hasedera is another of Kamakura’s Buddhist temples. This temple is famous for housing a massive wooden statue of Kannon, a powerful and enlightened figure in Japanese Buddhism.
Work your way up the temple’s winding hillside staircase to a beautiful ocean view. On your way you’ll walk through the temples elaborate 8th century garden, filled to the brim with purple and blue hydrangeas. The best time to view this temple is in June, when everything is in full bloom and the lush green canopy looms overhead.
Kamakura’s Great Buddha (Kōtoku-in) is by far the most well known tourism destination in the city, but by no means is it overrated. This 13 meter tall bronze statue dates back to 1252, during the time when the city was still the political centre of Japan. Today you can even step inside the great statue to few its full construction.
From Kōtoku-in it’s only a short 10 to 15 minute walk to Hasedera. Be sure to leave a bit of extra time in between, as you will probably find yourself stopping in one of the many shops that dot the path along your way.
Hit the Surf
If you’re the outdoors type, Kamakura has something to offer you as well. In Enoshima, you can stop by Stay Sea Surf Club to rent yourself a board and hit the waves. Day rentals are only around $55 USD, and they even offer lessons for beginners. Generally waves in the area aren’t too big, so no matter if you are seasoned or a complete beginner you’ll have no problem in the water.
Where to shop and Eat
If you’re looking for a great area to shop or eat, you can’t go wrong with either Komachi-dori or Wakamiya Oji. These streets run next to each other right past Kamakura station. Komachi-dori is a small back ally shopping street full of hidden treasures, small shops in a more traditional Japanese countryside style. Wakamiya Oji is the cities main street connecting Hachimangu Shrine to the ocean in a grand procession way, and is home to most of the modern day shopping in the city.
If you find yourself on either of the streets you definitely wont regret trying some of the local delicacies such as the food from Kamakura Misui. You might also want to bring home some traditional sweets form Toshimaya Hato Sabure or Komachi Hiyori Kamakura. No matter where you are in the city, you are bound to find some tasty treats.