Located just one hour south of Tokyo, Kamakura of Kanagawa Prefecture is home to the Great Buddha Hall, Tsuruhachimangu Shrine, and many other historic buildings, beautiful cafes, and cosy shops. This town became the political centre of Japan in the late 12th century. Today, Kamakura is a small city and a very popular tourist destination. Sometimes called the Kyoto of Eastern Japan, Kamakura offers numerous temples, shrines and other historical monuments. Besides, Kamakura’s sand beaches attract large crowds during the summer months.
The Great Buddha
Undoubtedly the icon of Kamakura, the Great Buddha of Kotokuin Temple is a bronze statue of Amida Buddha. With a height of 11.4 meters, it is the second-largest seated Buddha in the country after the one in Todaiji Temple in Nara. Including the base, it measures 13.35 metres (43.8 ft) tall and weighs approximately 93 tonnes (103 tons). The statue was cast in 1252 and was initially housed in a huge wooden hall. Today visitors can enter the statue and see the interior inside too (additional fee of JPY 20).
Activities: Photo stop, Temple visit Fee: JPY 300 Time required: 40 minutes
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is Shinto’s most important and popular shrine in Kamakura. The shrine is dedicated to Hachiman, the patron god of the Minamoto family and the samurai in general. The shrine is fully crowded on 1st-3rd January when people go there for Hatsumoude (New Year’s first visit). The shrines complex is famous for the magnificent red torii gate in front and the main hall after climbing on stairs. The main hall includes a small shrine museum, which displays various treasures such as swords, masks and documents. (Image via Japan Web Magazine)
Activities: Photo stop, Temple visit Fee: None (museum: JPY 200) Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour
Hasedera Temple is a large Buddhist temple complex, famous for its eleven-headed statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The 9.18 meter tall, gilded wooden statue is regarded as one of the largest wooden sculptures in Japan. The temple is built along the slope of a wooded hill. The temple's main buildings stand halfway up the slope on a terrace which allows for nice views of the coastal city of Kamakura. There is also a small restaurant where Japanese sweets, meals and beverages are served. (Image via Official Website)
Activities: Photo stop, Temple visit Fee: JPY 400 Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour
Founded in 1160, Meigetsuin Temple is also known as Ajisaidera ("Hydrangea Temple") as it displays the stunning hydrangea flowers on the temple grounds during the rainy season around June. 95% of the hydrangeas here are of the Hime Ajisai ("Princess Hydrangea") variety; they are thus named because of their pretty blue colours. In the back of Meigetsuin's grounds stands the main hall which features an iconic circular window that frames the scenery of the inner garden behind it. (Image via Official Website)
Activities: Photo stop, Temple visit Fee: JPY 500 Time required: 45 minutes
Hokokuji Temple is a small Zen temple known for its bamboo grove formed with about 2,000 dark green bamboo trees. A few narrow pathways lead through the bamboo to a tea house where, for a small fee, you can sit and enjoy a cup of matcha tea while enjoying views into the bamboo grove. Also located behind the temple is a series of shallow caves carved into the hillsides, which are believed to hold the ashes of some of the later Ashikaga lords.
Activities: Photo stop, Temple visit Fee: JPY 300 (additional JPY 600 for tea service) Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour
Komachi Street (Komachi Dori) is a shopping street located near Kamakura Station and stretches towards Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. Lined with stores selling Japanese sundries, restaurants serving up local Kamakura cuisine, and sweets shops, Komachi Street is Kamakura’s most major shopping spot. It is the city’s best place to eat out and shop for souvenirs. A lot of shops offer handy street snacks which you can enjoy while strolling down the street. (Image via Japan Travel by NAVITIME)
Activities: Shopping Fee: None Time required: 1 hour
Connected to the mainland by a bridge, Enoshima offers numbers of attractions such as beautiful shrines, observatory, shops and restaurants. Views of Mount Fuji can be enjoyed on days with good visibility.
Kamakura is home to several sand beaches. Two of the most popular beaches are Yuigahama and Zaimokuza Beaches. Due to their convenient location and good facilities, these beaches are very crowded during the summer.