Kamakura is a seaside town an hour south of Tokyo and is a popular coastal resort it is sometimes referred to as the Kyoto of eastern Japan, as it is very picturesque with numerous temples, historical monuments, Shinto shrines, hiking trails and several beaches. During the summer months, the beaches attract large crowds of domestic tourists. Kamakura makes a great day trip from Tokyo or Yokohama and is the perfect escape from the cities.
Sights & Activities
Daibutsu Hiking Trail
Daibutsu Hiking Trail is a wooded trail which is just short of 2 miles long, the trail begins just by Jōchi-Ji Temple and finishes just by The Great Buddha. We actually stumbled on this trail by accident when we got on the train we got off at Kita-Kamakura by accident rather than Kamakura, so we decided to go and visit the Engakuji Temple and Jōchi-Ji Temple.
Once we visited these temples we decided to walk to The Great Buddha, we didn’t plan on doing this trail and I didn’t have the best footwear on so make sure to wear some comfortable trainers or walking shoes if you plan on doing this trail, not some silly glittery peep toe dolly shoes like I had on! However the trail is quite an easy route and walking through the woods and bamboo forests were great and so nice to be out in nature, the trail was nice and quiet too.
The Daibutsu Hiking Trail took us just short of an hour half but we did stop a few times, make sure to also take plenty of water on this trail as there’s nowhere really to get a drink on route. There are several shrines along the way that are hidden away so if you are doing this route maybe pin them on your map so you know where to stop. I really recommend if your visiting Kamakura for the day to get off at the Kita-Kamakura stop as there are plenty of temples and shrines to see near to the station and then can take the Daibutsu Hiking Trail to the Great Buddha.
Entrance Fee: 300 JPY
Engakuji Temple is built into the slopes of Kita-Kamakuras forested hills and is one of Kamakura’s leading zen temples. The temple was founded back in 1282 and was built after a second invasion attempt by the Mongols to pay respect to both the Japanese and Mongolian soldiers that had died. Like many Japanese temples the entrance has a large wooden Sanmon gate at the entrance, and once inside the grounds of the temple there are several buildings to explore and there is also a traditional tea house on site too.
As we visited during the summer the trees were bright and green, however if you visit in the autumn be sure to visit this temple as there are plenty of maple trees surrounding the temple which turn to stunning autumn colours, Engakuji Temple is a must when visiting Kamakura.
Entrance Fee: 200 JPY
Jōchi-Ji Temple is another one of Kamakura’s main zen temples, its close to Engakuji Temple which is its head temple. Jōchi-Ji Temple was once a huge temple complex, today it is a much smaller temple surrounded by forest. The temple was originally founded in 1283 by the ruling Hojo family in honour of their young son who died. Most of the buildings that stand there today have been there since the 1920s.
I would suggest visiting this temple after Engakuji Temple as they are only a few minutes walk apart from one another. The Daibutsu Hiking Trail also starts just by this temple too, the gardens in the temple grounds are calm and tranquil and the grounds have lush flowerbeds and bamboo groves which are great to stroll around before starting a hike.
The Great Buddha (Kotoku-in Temple)
Entrance Fee: 300 JPY
The Great Buddha is a symbol of Kamakura and one of the pictures most associated with this coastal city. The Buddha draws plenty of visitors and is Japans second tallest bronze Buddha statues. The statue was cast back in 1252 and originally sat inside the temple, however the temple halls and buildings were destroyed on numerous occasions by typhoons and tsunamis back in the 14th and 15th centuries. Since the late 15th century the Buddha has been outside overlooking the city and coast. There is another small fee of 20 yen if you would like to enter the Buddha statues interior. As the Great Buddha is Kamakuras top attraction it would be a crime to miss it, so make sure this is top of your must see list in Kamakura.
Zaimokuza Beach is one of five beaches set along Kamakuras 5 miles of coastline, the other beaches are Yuigahama Beach and Koshigoe Beach which are the other two main beaches along with Zaimokuza Beach, and Inamuragasaki and Shichirigahama are two smaller beaches and coves which are less touristy. Zaimokuza Beach is one of the main tourist beaches but is less crowded than Yuigahama and is set in a calm cove. The official beach season in Kamakura is short lived and only runs from July – August, when many beachfront bars, cafes, restaurants and beach huts open for business, and watersport equipment is available for rent.
Zaimokuza Beach is only a few minutes walk from the Great Buddha and on clear days you can also get a glimpse of Mt Fuji, however if you want the best view then head to Inamuragasaki which is also a popular spot for surfers.
We visited Zaimokuza Beach and had a stroll along with it after visiting the Great Buddha, and we enjoyed getting to see one of Japans beaches and viewing the coastline, which considering Japan is a cluster of islands I never think to associate beaches with Japan, so if you’re visiting Tokyo or one of the surrounding areas make sure to head down to one of Kamakura’s beaches for something a little different.
Transport & Getting Around
Kamakura is pretty straight forward to reach from both Tokyo and Yokohama, if you take the JR Yokosuka line from Tokyo it goes directly to Kita-Kamakura and Kamakura and stops via Yokohama where you can also get the train directly from on the same line. The trains are regular and also very cost efficient costing between £3-£7 per person depending on where you take the train from.
There are also buses from Tokyo to Kamakura however these take a long time and are more expensive. Taxis are also available but cost far more, personally I would always recommend taking the trains as much as possible in Japan as they are so clean and efficient and cost effective when not taking very long journeys.
Due to Kamakuras small size the area can be explored by foot, scenic hiking or by bicycle, there are several rental places to rent bikes if you wanted to cycle around. There is also a good network of city buses, trains and taxis availble for slightly longer distances.
If your vegetarian or just prefer a plant based diet, then the biggest bit of advice would be to do some research before leaving your accommodation and decide where to eat beforehand.
Try downloading the Happy Cow app or googling vegetarian friendly restaurants as trying to seek out places that serve veggie food isn’t always obvious in Japan, so research before you go. If you can also take a small translation card or find it in a guide book and take the translation for vegetarian food, as there is a language barrier. So if you have this you can show waiters and waitresses so they can assist you.
I would really recommend when exploring the city to download the maps.me app this is a great app to have in any country but especially countries where there can be quite a big language barrier. I swear by having this map in an unfamiliar city. It’s like google maps but works offline, so is great if you don’t have WiFi.
I would recommend planning your day before heading out, and seeing what sights and attractions are near to one another. I normally search places on my maps.me app and save and pin it so I can see what is close by, and what is the best route to take so I’m not wasting time going out of the way and then having to go back on myself.
- Language: Japanese
- Currency: Japanese Yen
- Exchange Rate
- Laws & Customs
- Safety & Security
- Visa Requirement
Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx