Kamakura is the ultimate Tokyo day trip. From the Great Buddha of Kotoku-in to the tree-lined grounds of the Hachimangu Shrine, Kamakura affords a chance to see some of the most iconic landmarks Japan has to offer. Best of all, it’s all a short train-ride from the center of Tokyo. If you want to get a better sense of Japan’s history, or simply take a break from the cluttered streets of Tokyo, a visit to Kamakura is well worth your time. This Kamakura tour takes visitors to a few of the most popular spots the city has to offer. Follow the map here.
Beginning your Kamakura Tour
Getting to Kamakura station from the center of Tokyo is a relatively simple matter. From Shibuya you can take the Shonan-Shinjuku line to Ofuna and then transfer over to the Yokosuka line bound for Zushi. The whole trip should take around 50 minutes and offers scenic views of the seaside.
To begin your Kamakura tour, explore the area around Kamakura station. Even for Tokyoites, Kamakura is a common day-trip, and you’ll find plenty of places to pick up souvenirs.
You can purchase replicas of the Great Buddha, snacks such as cookies and cakes, or some of Kamakura’s famous lacquerware.
You’ll also find plenty of restaurants if you’d like to grab a bite to eat.
The road to the Great Buddha is a long one, so at least grabbing some snacks is not a bad idea.
The Great Buddha
Once you’ve gotten a feeling for Kamakura Station, head to the roundabout outside the west exit. A large road heads off to the west from the northern tip of the roundabout, and you can follow this road to start your Kamakura tour proper. You should pass a Starbucks on the right and the Kamakura City office on the left.
Continue down the road until you reach the Haseoyata intersection and then turn south and follow the road as it curves back north to Kotoku-in Temple. This is the home of the Great Buddha. The large Buddha was once housed outside but after its quarters were destroyed in a storm, it was left exposed to the elements. The large expertly crafted statue is now a must-see for visitors to Japan, and you can even go inside the bronze statue for a small fee.
The whole trip should take about 25 minutes on foot with regular signage directing you along the correct path. There are regular buses running to the temple from the station, but by conducting your Kamakura trek on foot, you should get more of a taste of residential Japan.
Once you’ve communed with the Great Buddha, you can continue your Kamakura tour by taking the road south and heading back east towards Kamakura Station. If you want to check out some art or fashion you can stop in at the GREENROOM. The store and gallery features a curated collection of art and clothes from Japanese and international artists housed in a small but chic store.
Continue west and stop just short of the station. Cross the tracks and head north along the eastern part of Kamakura station. The street will open up into a broad avenue with a central promenade you can walk along on foot. The promenade is beautifully landscaped and provides an imposing view of Tsurugaoka-Hachimangu Shrine as you approach.
The shrine itself is both a center of Shinto and Buddhist practice. It features a large torii gate, multiple lotus-filled ponds, and a stunning central pavilion. The temple hosts multiple festivals every year and, if you’re lucky, you might also catch site of a wedding during your visit.
Ending your Kamakura Tour
Once you’ve finished your Kamakura tour, you can head back to the station. While you could easily continue back to Shibuya, you could also consider visiting the nearby hilly island of Enoshima and its surrounding beaches. Alternatively, you can also grab a bus to Hokoku-ji temple and its well-tended bamboo grove. Whatever you choose to do, Kamakura and its iconic landmarks are sure to leave an impression.
Post by Japan Journeys.