Tokyo to Kamakura: A Day Trip Guide
When visiting Tokyo it’s easy to just stay (and completely understandable) in the city and not really venture out into the surrounding areas, but did you know that Tokyo has many day trip-able locations that are easily accessible by train?
One of them in particular is the city Kamakura.
Kamakura is one of the seaside cities just South of Tokyo. With a strong political history and being a natural fortress, Kamakura played a major part in Japan’s military history until the 15th century. It is now a popular resort with its sandy beaches and many Buddhist Zen Temples and Shinto shrines. Kamakura has picked up the name the “Kyoto of Kanto” due to its many temples and shrines . So if you’re after a taste of Japanese history but don’t fancy the expensive bullet train to Kyoto, then Kamakura is perfect for you. Plus it only takes an hour via train; which is why it makes Kamakura a perfect destination for a day trip.
When you reach Kamakura you’ll be spoilt for choice. Visiting Kamakura for just one day maybe tough, but manageable. Here are my recommendations for your first visit to Kamakura.
Kosoku-ji Temple (Giant Buddha)
This Temple is home to the famous Giant Buddha of Kamakura. Built in the the 13th century by donations raised by priest Joko, not much else is known about the reason for the Buddha’s construction. The Giant Buddha is the second tallest in Japan; siting 11.3 metres tall it is only beaten by the 15 metre tall Giant Buddha of Todai-ji Temple in Nara.
According to the legend, in 721 AD to Kannon statues were carved out of one sacred tree in Hatsuse (modern day Nara Prefecture). One statue remained in Nara but the other was thrown into the ocean in prayer. 15 years later the statue washed ashore in modern day Kanagawa, and Hasedera Temple was built to enshrine the Kannon statue ever since. The statue is commonly known as “Eleven-headed Kannon” due to the statue having 11 heads. The statue measures 9.18 meters tall and this makes it one of the largest wooden Buddhist statues in Japan.
The gardens of Hasedera temple are famous for its beautiful blooms and tourists are welcomed to enjoy the garden all year round.
Komachi Dori is a must visit for Kamakura, what started as a traditional market street centuries ago has now become a bustling street of shopping and street food. You can find anything from fashion, souvenir shops to even kimono rental here on Komachi Dori. A lot of the restaurants serve the local delicacy of shirasu (whitebait) on a variety of dishes. So whether you want to try it raw, on noodles, on rice, or even on a pizza, Komachi Dori is the place to try it. The selection of sweets here also does not disappoint; with many shoos selling candied red beans, cookies and matcha ice cream. This street is a must for the foodie within.
Just try not to knock over anyone as you try the local delicacies like in the Nippon Marathon; remember it’s incredible unpopular and the spectators will cry.
Houkokuji Temple is a Zen Buddhist temple, which was first established by Tengan Eko in 1334 (the first year of the Kenmu era) to commemorate Ashikaga Ietoki, the grandfather of Ashikaga Takauji, the first of the Ashikaga Shōguns. The temple is now famous for its matcha tea and impressive Moso Bamboo Garden. Admission is ¥200 with matcha (and dry sweets) costing ¥500.
Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine
Although small in comparison to other shrines, Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine is popular with tourists as the water in the cave are said to “multiply the money washed in it”. This tradition has been in practice since Kamakura’s ruler Hojo Tokiyori visited the shrine in 1257 to worship and wash his own money for prosperity. He recommended his subjects to also wash their money as they would also be rewarded. In modern day it’s recommended that you wash all of your money you have, including any notes and bank cards (in whatever currency you have) to bring prosperity and good fortune to the individual. It is then advised to dry your money naturally or using the incense in the temple.
For a day trip from Tokyo here is my suggested itinerary:
Arrive at Kamakura Station
Arrival into JR Kamakura Station from Tokyo
5 minute train from Kamakura Station to Hase Station (Electric Railway Enoshima Dentetsu Line各停Fujisawa).
Lunch at Kamakura Komachi Dori Shopping Area
5 minute train from Hase Station to Kamakura Station (Electric Railway Enoshima Dentetsu Line各停Kamakura).
Bus 鎌23, 鎌24, 鎌36 for 13 minutes (or a 30 minute walk) from Kamakura Bus terminal.
Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine
Bus 鎌23, 鎌24, 鎌36 for 13 minutes (or a 30 minute walk) back to Kamakura Bus Terminal.
20 minute walk to Shrine.
Train back to Tokyo
So that’s my suggestion for a day trip to Kamakura. Of course there are lots more to see, so I’d definitely recommend another trip back, perhaps in the summer when you can also enjoy the warm temperatures and the soft sand beach. Perhaps you can even go surfing.
So that’s all for now folks,
I’ve been Wedy Jones.
Keep it Real, Keep it Nippon.