Welcome to Kamakura, a captivating coastal city located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Steeped in rich history and adorned with numerous temples, shrines, and breathtaking natural beauty, Kamakura offers a truly enchanting travel experience. Just a short distance from Tokyo, Kamakura is a popular day trip destination for both locals and international visitors.
As you step into Kamakura, you will be immersed in its ancient charm and tranquil atmosphere. This former political capital of Japan during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) boasts a wealth of historical and cultural treasures. From magnificent Buddhist temples to serene Zen gardens, Kamakura is a haven for those seeking spiritual solace and a deeper understanding of Japan’s heritage.
Notably, the city is renowned for its iconic Great Buddha (Daibutsu), a colossal bronze statue that stands gracefully in Kotokuin Temple. This awe-inspiring masterpiece is a symbol of Kamakura’s cultural significance and draws visitors from all corners of the globe.
Beyond its religious landmarks, Kamakura offers stunning natural landscapes. The city is blessed with beautiful beaches, such as Yuigahama and Zaimokuza, where you can relax, soak up the sun, and even try your hand at surfing. The surrounding hills and forests also provide ample opportunities for peaceful hikes and scenic walks, offering respite from the urban hustle and bustle.
Kamakura’s charming streets are lined with quaint shops, traditional teahouses, and cozy cafes, allowing you to savor the local flavors and indulge in traditional Japanese delicacies. Don’t miss the chance to try Kamakura’s specialty, shirasu (whitebait) dishes, which are a true local delight.
With its rich heritage, natural beauty, and serene ambiance, Kamakura invites you to embark on a remarkable journey through time and culture. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Kamakura promises to captivate your heart and leave you with unforgettable memories. Get ready to explore the wonders of this charming city that embodies the spirit of old Japan.
Kamakura City Guide: A Brief History Of Kamakura, Japan
Kamakura, located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, has a fascinating history that dates back centuries. As you explore this coastal city, you’ll discover its significance as a former political capital during the Kamakura period (1185-1333).
The Kamakura period marked a significant shift in Japanese history. It began when Minamoto no Yoritomo established the Kamakura Shogunate, becoming the first shogun and effectively establishing a military government in Kamakura. This period saw the decline of the imperial court’s power in Kyoto and the rise of the samurai warriors as the ruling class.
Under the Kamakura Shogunate, the city flourished as the center of political and military power. The shoguns and their samurai vassals built impressive temples, shrines, and fortifications throughout Kamakura. These structures not only served as symbols of their authority but also contributed to the city’s cultural and religious significance.
One of the most iconic landmarks from this period is the Great Buddha (Daibutsu) of Kamakura. Constructed in the 13th century, this magnificent bronze statue stands at approximately 13.35 meters (43.8 feet) tall and is a symbol of Kamakura’s historical and spiritual importance.
During the Kamakura period, Buddhism gained prominence, and numerous temples were established throughout the city. The Zen sect, in particular, played a crucial role, with Zen temples like Kenchoji and Engakuji becoming influential centers of Zen Buddhism.
Despite its political and cultural prominence, Kamakura faced challenges throughout its history. The city experienced devastating natural disasters, including earthquakes and tsunamis, which caused destruction and reshaped its landscape. The decline of the Kamakura Shogunate in the 14th century marked the end of the Kamakura period, as power shifted back to the imperial court in Kyoto.
Today, Kamakura stands as a testament to its rich historical legacy. Visitors can explore its temples, shrines, and ancient landmarks, allowing them to immerse themselves in the city’s captivating past. The historical significance, combined with Kamakura’s natural beauty and serene atmosphere, makes it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a glimpse into Japan’s storied history.
Kamakura Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Japan
Located within day trip or weekend break distance from Tokyo, Kamakura is a popular temple town that attracts Japanese and foreign visitors alike.
If you are all about these attractions, give yourself three to four days here, as there are a lot of significant temples to see here.
Come check out our Kamakura travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Kamakura, Japan.
There is no shortage of temples in Kamakura, so it can be tough to know where to start your sightseeing. In our opinion, beginning with the Hase Temple is the best move, as it is home to the largest wooden sculpture in Japan.
A Zen Buddhist temple dedicated to Kannon, a Japanese deity of mercy, the statue depicting this eleven-headed being stands more than nine metres tall above those who have come to see it. Learn more about this divine entity at the on-site museum; while most of the captions are only in Japanese, a pamphlet is provided that provides a basic translation in English.
With a number of interesting Buddhist statues and a spectacular temple bell among other artifacts, it is part of this temple that is definitely worth seeing. Finally, stroll through the garden outside, as its many stunning trees (which burst into colour come Fall) and koi ponds will complete your visit here.
When you are done taking in this place’s main attractions, stop to check out the view, as this hillside temple allows sweeping views of the historic city of Kamakura below.
After this, make Kenchoji Temple your next stop. This is the oldest temple in Kamakura, as it was built in 1253 during the Kencho Era. Like the Hase Temple, it is set up on a hillside, with plenty of sub-buildings spread over the lower slopes below the main buildings.
Soon after passing through the main gate near the base, you’ll come across Bonsho, a temple bell that is considered to be a National Treasure. Beyond that, the next couple of halls contains statues of the Jizo Bodhisattva and Kannon respectively, with the latter one being the largest wooden temple building in Eastern Japan.
The Hojo (main hall) lies at the top and used to be the home of the head priest. While this building is impressive in its own right, the main attraction here is the Zen garden located behind it. A calm place located high up in the hills above the town of Kamakura, its relaxing nature will provide an antidote to the stress that life in nearby Tokyo can build up in you.
Continuing on, Hokokuji Temple is another must-see religious point of interest in the Kamakura area. Built during the Muromachi Period, the temple itself is somewhat unassuming (though, this may make this place more appealing to those who detest crowds), but the Buddha statue contained within is worth seeing.
What does make this temple worth seeing is the sizable bamboo grove, which contains 2,000 strands of this massive species of grass. Within this grove lies a series of caves where the cremated ashes of former lords were scattered, and a tea house where you can enjoy a cup of matcha amidst an amazing setting.
Finally, those on a tight schedule should make time to see the Great Buddha of Kamakura before leaving Kamakura. Formerly housed by yet another temple, typhoons and then a tsunami destroyed the building that contained it, locals got tired of rebuilding and converted this landmark into an outdoor monument.
With a height exceeding eleven metres tall, it is the second largest bronze Buddha statue in all of Japan, so don’t miss it if at all possible.
Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Kamakura, Japan
Got more time? If you are game to check out more of the temples that can be found in the Kamakura area, ensure that Engakuji Temple is on your list of places to check out.
Built to honour the fallen in the wake of the second failed attempt by the Mongols to capture the Japanese islands, this hillside temple is known nationwide for containing a relic of the Buddha (one of his teeth).
Come by in Autumn, as the colours of the trees are especially beautiful at this time.
Proceed next to the Meigetsuin Temple. Known locally as the “Hydrangea Temple” for its abundance of flowers of this type that bloom in its gardens, it was built by the son to honour their father, who died in a clash between clans in the Heian Period.
As you make your way around, keep your eyes open for live rabbits and rabbit decorations, as they have long been associated with this temple.
Behind many of the temples in Kamakura, you will find plenty of hiking trails leading further up into the hills. Active travellers will want to dedicate a day to exploring many of these, as they allow for an escape into nature that will offer an added dimension to your trip to Japan.
source: Japan-Guide.com on YouTube
Top 33 Things To Do in Kamakura, Japan For Visitors
Here are 33 of the top things to do in Kamakura:
- Visit the Great Buddha (Daibutsu) at Kotokuin Temple: Marvel at the colossal bronze statue, which stands at approximately 13.35 meters (43.8 feet) tall and is an iconic symbol of Kamakura’s rich history.
- Explore the historic Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine: Admire the grand wooden torii gate, walk through the beautiful gardens, and experience the vibrant atmosphere of this important Shinto shrine.
- Take a stroll along the Komachi-dori street: Browse the charming shops offering traditional crafts, snacks, and souvenirs. Indulge in local treats like sweet potato ice cream or pick up unique handicrafts to take home.
- Experience Zen meditation at Engakuji Temple: Immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere of this Zen Buddhist temple, participate in meditation sessions, and learn about Zen philosophy.
- Discover the beauty of Hokokuji Temple’s bamboo grove: Walk through the peaceful bamboo forest and enjoy a moment of tranquility. Visit the temple’s teahouse to savor a cup of matcha tea.
- Wander through the enchanting Meigetsuin Temple: Explore the temple’s exquisite gardens, featuring thousands of hydrangea flowers that create a mesmerizing spectacle during the blooming season.
- Explore Kenchoji Temple: Delve into one of Japan’s oldest Zen training temples, admire the architecture of the main hall, and experience the peaceful Zen gardens.
- Take in panoramic views of Kamakura from the Enoshima Electric Railway (Enoden) train: Enjoy a scenic ride along the coast, passing by beaches, temples, and historic neighborhoods while capturing beautiful vistas.
- Enjoy a leisurely walk along Yuigahama Beach: Relax on the sandy shores, soak up the sun, and take a refreshing dip in the ocean. This popular beach offers a laid-back atmosphere and stunning views.
- Visit Hase-dera Temple: Explore the temple grounds, admire the picturesque gardens, and stand in awe of the magnificent Kannon statue, one of Japan’s largest wooden sculptures.
- Explore the ancient Zeniarai Benten Shrine: Witness the unique ritual of washing money to increase wealth and explore the peaceful grounds surrounded by nature.
- Take a peaceful hike in the wooded hills of Kamakura: Discover Kamakura-gu Shrine and enjoy the serenity of nature, taking in the tranquil atmosphere and scenic surroundings.
- Learn about Kamakura’s history at the Kamakura Museum of National Treasures: Gain insights into the city’s cultural heritage through its collection of historical artifacts and exhibits.
- Discover the artistic exhibits at the Kamakura Museum of Modern Art: Immerse yourself in the works of renowned Japanese artists and explore various forms of contemporary art.
- Take a scenic boat ride around Enoshima Island: Enjoy panoramic views of the coast and explore the island’s attractions, including the Enoshima Sea Candle and the Benzaiten Shrine.
- Visit the Zen temple of Jochiji: Appreciate the temple’s beautiful gardens, stroll along the stone pathways, and experience a moment of tranquility in this serene setting.
- Explore the fascinating Kamakura Museum of Literature: Delve into the works of prominent Japanese writers and learn about their contributions to the literary world.
- Take a refreshing hike to the Tenen Hiking Course: Embark on a trail that offers breathtaking views of Kamakura and Sagami Bay, providing a perfect opportunity for nature lovers and hikers.
- Visit the Zen temple of Tokeiji: Step into this historically significant temple known as the “Divorce Temple” and admire its beautiful gardens. Learn about its role in providing refuge for women seeking divorce during the samurai era.
- Discover the historic Kita-Kamakura area: Explore the ancient temples and shrines, including Jochiji, Engakuji, and Kenchoji. Wander through the peaceful streets and soak up the traditional atmosphere of this serene neighborhood.
- Experience traditional tea ceremonies: Participate in a Japanese tea ceremony at one of Kamakura’s tea houses, such as Jojuin. Immerse yourself in the rituals and aesthetics of this ancient tradition while savoring a cup of matcha tea.
- Enjoy panoramic views from Mount Koyasan: Hike or take a cable car to the top of Mount Koyasan and soak in the breathtaking vistas of Kamakura, including stunning views of Mount Fuji on clear days.
- Explore the tranquil Zen temple of Zuisenji: Admire the elegant Zen architecture and stroll through the meticulously landscaped gardens. Experience a moment of serenity and contemplation in this peaceful sanctuary.
- Discover the Kamakura Merchant Houses (Kamakura Bakan): Visit the well-preserved traditional merchant houses that provide insights into Kamakura’s mercantile history. Explore the exhibits and learn about the city’s thriving commerce during the Edo period.
- Take a scenic hike to the Taya Caves: Venture into the ancient Buddhist cave temples and marvel at the intricate carvings and statues that adorn the cavern walls. Feel the sense of spirituality and history within these underground chambers.
- Visit the historical Zen temple of Myohonji: Admire the stunning five-story pagoda, explore the serene temple grounds, and enjoy the beautiful seasonal scenery. Take a moment to reflect and appreciate the tranquility of this sacred place.
- Experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at Jomyoji Temple: Engage in the art of tea preparation and savor the flavors of freshly whisked matcha in the serene surroundings of this temple’s tea house.
- Explore the beautiful gardens of Shomyoji Temple: Wander through the meticulously landscaped gardens adorned with vibrant flowers, serene ponds, and traditional stone lanterns. Take in the peaceful ambiance and find a moment of tranquility.
- Visit the Sasuke Inari Shrine: Pay a visit to this charming shrine dedicated to the deity of agriculture and business prosperity. Admire the torii gates and the statues of foxes that guard the entrance.
- Take a leisurely bike ride along the Kamakura coast: Rent a bicycle and pedal along the picturesque coastal paths, enjoying the scenic views of the ocean, beaches, and surrounding nature.
- Explore the vibrant Kamakura Sunday Market: Visit the bustling market held near Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, where you can find a variety of local crafts, fresh produce, street food, and antiques. Experience the lively atmosphere and the joy of bargain hunting.
- Discover the historical Tōkei-ji Temple: Uncover the history of this temple, often referred to as the “Nunnery Temple,” and learn about its role as a sanctuary for women seeking refuge from unhappy marriages during the samurai era.
- Enjoy the beauty and marine life of the Enoshima Aquarium: Immerse yourself in the underwater world, observe various species of fish, and learn about marine conservation efforts. Experience interactive exhibits and gain a deeper appreciation for the ocean’s wonders.
These top 33 activities provide a diverse range of experiences, allowing you to delve into Kamakura’s rich history, immerse yourself in its cultural heritage, and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds the city. From visiting iconic landmarks and exploring ancient temples to enjoying scenic hikes and indulging in local traditions, Kamakura offers a plethora of opportunities to create unforgettable memories.
Whether you’re interested in history, spirituality, art, nature, or simply immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, Kamakura has something for everyone. Take your time to explore the city’s hidden gems, interact with locals, and embrace the unique blend of tradition and modernity that defines Kamakura.
As you embark on your journey through Kamakura, let yourself be captivated by the serene temples, tranquil gardens, and the enchanting charm of its streets. Immerse yourself in the cultural heritage, savor the local delicacies, and allow the beauty of Kamakura to leave an indelible mark on your heart.
No matter which activities you choose from this diverse list, each one will contribute to a fulfilling and memorable experience in Kamakura. Enjoy the serenity, immerse yourself in the rich history, and let the city’s captivating allure captivate your senses. Kamakura awaits, ready to enchant and inspire you on your journey through this remarkable destination.
What To Eat and Drink in Kamakura, Japan
Kamakura offers a delightful culinary experience with a variety of traditional Japanese dishes and local specialties. Here are some must-try foods and drinks in Kamakura:
- Shirasu: Kamakura is famous for its fresh shirasu, tiny whitebait fish that are typically served boiled or grilled. Enjoy them as a topping on rice bowls (donburi), in sushi, or as a standalone snack.
- Kamakura Vegetables: Known for their exceptional taste and quality, Kamakura vegetables are grown in the fertile soil of the area. Sample seasonal produce like Kamakura tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and greens, which are incorporated into many local dishes.
- Kamakura Curry: Savor the unique flavor of Kamakura-style curry, which often includes local vegetables and a slightly sweeter taste compared to other curry variations.
- Kamakura Soba: Enjoy a bowl of traditional buckwheat noodles (soba) made from locally sourced ingredients. Kamakura soba is known for its nutty flavor and is usually served with a dipping sauce or in a warm broth.
- Hato Sable: Indulge in Hato Sable, a popular local sweet treat resembling a dove’s shape. These buttery and crumbly biscuits make for a delightful snack while exploring the city.
- Green Tea: Kamakura has a long-standing tea culture, so be sure to sample some locally produced green tea. Visit a tea house or enjoy a cup of matcha tea in a tranquil garden setting.
- Kamakura Craft Beer: Quench your thirst with a refreshing pint of craft beer brewed locally in Kamakura. The city boasts several microbreweries that offer a variety of flavors to suit different tastes.
- Kamakura Shaved Ice (Kakigori): During the hot summer months, treat yourself to a refreshing bowl of shaved ice topped with sweet syrups and various toppings. It’s the perfect way to cool down and satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Kamakura Rice Balls (Onigiri): Grab a quick and tasty snack by trying a traditional Japanese rice ball, or onigiri, available in various fillings such as salmon, pickled plum (umeboshi), or grilled seaweed (yaki-nori).
- Local Seafood: Being a coastal city, Kamakura offers an abundance of fresh seafood. Try grilled fish, sashimi, or seafood hot pots for a taste of the region’s maritime delights.
While exploring Kamakura, keep an eye out for local restaurants, street vendors, and traditional teahouses that serve these delicious delicacies. Embrace the flavors of the city and enjoy the unique culinary experience that Kamakura has to offer.
Top Restaurants In Kamakura, Japan
Kamakura is known for its vibrant food scene, offering a wide range of culinary delights. Here are some top restaurants in Kamakura where you can savor delicious meals:
- Kamakura Chuka Soba Ichi-monme: This popular noodle shop is famous for its Kamakura-style Chinese soba noodles, served in a savory soy-based broth with various toppings.
- Sakanamachi Shokudo: Specializing in seafood, this cozy restaurant offers a variety of fresh fish dishes, including sashimi, grilled fish, and seafood hot pots.
- En Shoma: Enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine in a traditional setting at En Shoma. The restaurant offers a multi-course kaiseki meal using seasonal ingredients, showcasing the artistry and flavors of Japanese culinary traditions.
- Tsuruya: Known for its Kamakura-style vegetarian cuisine, Tsuruya offers a unique dining experience with beautifully presented, seasonal vegetable dishes. Their shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) is a must-try.
- Kamakura Pasta: If you’re looking for a fusion of Italian and Japanese flavors, Kamakura Pasta is the place to go. Indulge in creative pasta dishes that incorporate local ingredients and flavors.
- Kamakura Tenshin: This cozy restaurant serves traditional Kamakura cuisine, including Kamakura-style rice bowls (donburi) topped with fresh seafood and other local ingredients.
- Ajisai-tei: Enjoy traditional Japanese tea and sweets at this tea house with a peaceful garden setting. It’s a perfect spot to relax and indulge in the art of tea ceremony.
- Mameya Kamakura: This charming café specializes in coffee and offers a selection of freshly brewed drinks. Pair your coffee with their delectable homemade desserts for a delightful treat.
- Toriya: For yakitori (grilled skewered chicken) lovers, Toriya is a must-visit. Choose from a variety of grilled chicken skewers seasoned with flavorful sauces and enjoy a lively atmosphere.
- Sawamura: This renowned restaurant serves Kamakura-style shabu-shabu, a hot pot dish where thinly sliced meat and vegetables are cooked in a flavorful broth at your table.
- Kamakura Beer Garden: Located near Yuigahama Beach, this beer garden offers a wide selection of craft beers brewed locally. Enjoy a refreshing drink with views of the ocean.
- Fūrin Kazan: With its scenic location overlooking the beach, Fūrin Kazan is known for its grilled seafood dishes and delicious izakaya-style fare. It’s a perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the coastal atmosphere.
- Kagetsu: This cozy soba restaurant serves handmade soba noodles prepared with care. Enjoy the simplicity and delicate flavors of traditional soba dishes.
- Beach Muffin: Located near Zaimokuza Beach, Beach Muffin is a casual café known for its delicious sandwiches, salads, and baked goods. It’s a great place to grab a quick bite or relax after a day at the beach.
- Shirasu Yokocho: For a unique dining experience, visit Shirasu Yokocho, a street lined with small seafood stalls offering fresh shirasu (whitebait) and other seafood delicacies.
These are just a few of the top restaurants in Kamakura that showcase the diverse culinary scene of the city. Explore further and discover hidden gems as you indulge in the flavors of Kamakura.
Tours For Visitors To Kamakura, Japan
Kamakura offers a range of tours that allow visitors to explore the city’s rich history, cultural heritage, and natural beauty. Here are some popular tours for visitors to Kamakura:
- Kamakura Walking Tour: Join a guided walking tour to discover the highlights of Kamakura, including iconic temples, shrines, and historical landmarks. Learn about the city’s history, traditions, and architectural wonders.
- Zen Meditation Experience: Immerse yourself in the practice of Zen meditation with a guided experience at one of Kamakura’s Zen temples. Learn about the principles of Zen Buddhism and participate in a serene meditation session.
- Kamakura Rickshaw Tour: Enjoy a leisurely ride through the streets of Kamakura in a traditional rickshaw. Let the skilled rickshaw pullers take you to popular attractions while sharing fascinating stories about the city.
- Kamakura Samurai Tour: Step back in time with a samurai-themed tour that explores Kamakura’s samurai heritage. Visit historical sites associated with the samurai, learn about their traditions, and even try on traditional samurai armor.
- Kamakura Tea Ceremony Experience: Engage in the ancient art of tea ceremony with a guided experience at a traditional tea house. Learn about the rituals, techniques, and philosophy behind the Japanese tea ceremony.
- Kamakura Nature Hike: Embark on a guided nature hike through the scenic trails and forests surrounding Kamakura. Enjoy the beautiful landscapes, visit hidden temples, and learn about the local flora and fauna.
- Kamakura Bike Tour: Explore Kamakura on two wheels with a guided bike tour. Cycle through the city’s streets, visit temples, shrines, and scenic spots, and enjoy the freedom of exploring at your own pace.
- Kamakura Photography Tour: Join a photography tour to capture the beauty of Kamakura through your lens. Explore picturesque spots, receive photography tips from a professional guide, and take home memorable images of your journey.
- Kamakura Food Tour: Embark on a culinary adventure with a food tour that introduces you to the local flavors of Kamakura. Sample a variety of dishes, visit food markets, and learn about the city’s culinary traditions.
- Kamakura Art and Craft Tour: Discover Kamakura’s vibrant art scene with a tour that takes you to galleries, studios, and workshops. Explore various art forms such as ceramics, calligraphy, and traditional crafts.
- Kamakura Beach Activities: Make the most of Kamakura’s coastal location with water sports and beach activities. Try surfing, paddleboarding, or simply relax on the beach while enjoying the ocean breeze.
These tours offer unique perspectives on Kamakura’s cultural, historical, and natural attractions. Whether you’re interested in history, spirituality, art, or outdoor activities, there’s a tour for every interest. Joining a guided tour enhances your experience by providing insights, local knowledge, and a deeper understanding of Kamakura’s fascinating heritage.
Kamakura Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
When visiting Kamakura, you’ll find a range of accommodations to suit different budgets and preferences. Here’s a guide to help you choose the perfect place to stay in Kamakura:
- Ryokans (Traditional Japanese Inns): Experience Japanese hospitality and tradition by staying in a ryokan. These inns offer traditional tatami-matted rooms, futon beds, and communal baths. Some ryokans in Kamakura also provide kaiseki (multi-course) meals for a complete cultural experience.
- Minshukus (Japanese Guesthouses): Similar to ryokans, minshukus offer a more budget-friendly option for travelers. These family-run guesthouses provide comfortable rooms, often with shared facilities, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
- Hotels: Kamakura has a range of hotels, from luxury establishments to mid-range and budget options. Choose from well-known international chains, boutique hotels, or traditional-style accommodations with modern amenities.
- Guesthouses and Hostels: If you’re a solo traveler or on a tight budget, guesthouses and hostels offer affordable accommodations with shared facilities. These options often provide communal spaces where you can meet fellow travelers.
- Machiya (Traditional Townhouses): Some renovated machiya, traditional Japanese townhouses, have been converted into vacation rentals. These offer a unique opportunity to experience Kamakura’s historical charm with modern comforts.
- Beachside Resorts: Kamakura’s coastal location means there are several beachside resorts and hotels offering stunning ocean views. These accommodations provide a relaxing atmosphere and convenient access to the beach.
- Zen Temples and Shukubo: For a truly immersive experience, consider staying at a Zen temple or shukubo (temple lodging). This allows you to experience the Zen way of life, participate in meditation sessions, and enjoy simple, traditional accommodations.
- Vacation Rentals and Airbnbs: There are various vacation rentals and Airbnb options available in Kamakura, ranging from apartments to traditional Japanese houses. These provide the flexibility of having your own space and the opportunity to live like a local.
When choosing your accommodation, consider factors such as location, amenities, proximity to attractions, and your budget. Keep in mind that Kamakura is a popular destination, especially during peak seasons, so it’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance. Additionally, check the specific services and facilities provided by each establishment to ensure they meet your needs.
No matter where you choose to stay in Kamakura, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s rich cultural heritage and enjoy a comfortable base from which to explore its many attractions.
Day Trips From Kamakura, Japan
While Kamakura offers a wealth of attractions to explore, there are also several captivating destinations nearby that make for excellent day trips. Here are some popular day trips from Kamakura:
- Enoshima: Located just off the coast of Kamakura, Enoshima is a small island known for its beautiful beaches, stunning views, and Shinto shrines. Visit the iconic Enoshima Shrine, explore the enchanting Samuel Cocking Garden, and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of this coastal retreat.
- Yokohama: As one of Japan’s largest cities, Yokohama is a bustling metropolis with a blend of modernity and history. Explore attractions such as the historic Red Brick Warehouse, the waterfront Minato Mirai district, and the beautiful Sankeien Garden. Don’t miss the panoramic views from the Landmark Tower Sky Garden.
- Nikko: Located north of Tokyo, Nikko is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its ornate shrines and natural beauty. Visit the Toshogu Shrine, admire the stunning Kegon Falls, and explore the scenic Lake Chuzenji. Nikko offers a tranquil escape into nature and rich cultural heritage.
- Hakone: Famous for its hot springs, natural beauty, and views of Mount Fuji, Hakone is a popular day trip destination from Kamakura. Take a relaxing soak in the hot springs, explore the open-air sculpture park at Hakone Open-Air Museum, and enjoy a scenic boat ride on Lake Ashi.
- Tokyo: Japan’s capital city, Tokyo, is within easy reach from Kamakura and offers endless attractions to explore. Visit iconic landmarks such as Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine, and the bustling shopping districts of Shibuya and Shinjuku. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, culinary delights, and modernity of this dynamic city.
- Odawara: Located on the coast near Hakone, Odawara is a historic castle town with a well-preserved castle and beautiful cherry blossom viewing spots. Explore Odawara Castle, stroll through the picturesque gardens, and enjoy the local cuisine.
- Mount Takao: A popular hiking destination, Mount Takao offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. Choose from various hiking trails suited to different fitness levels, visit the Yakuo-in Temple, and enjoy the peaceful nature of this scenic mountain.
- Kamakura’s Surrounding Beaches: Take advantage of Kamakura’s coastal location by visiting the neighboring beaches. Zaimokuza Beach, Yuigahama Beach, and Shichirigahama Beach are popular spots for swimming, sunbathing, and water activities during the summer months.
These day trip options from Kamakura provide a diverse range of experiences, from cultural exploration and natural beauty to urban adventures. Plan your itinerary based on your interests and enjoy exploring the surrounding areas while basing yourself in Kamakura.
Kamakura Transportation Guide
Kamakura is well-connected and easily accessible by various modes of transportation. Here’s a transportation guide to help you navigate your way around Kamakura:
- Trains: The most convenient way to reach Kamakura is by train. The city is served by the JR Yokosuka Line and the Enoshima Electric Railway (Enoden). Kamakura Station is the main train station, and it provides access to the city center and major attractions. From Tokyo, you can take a direct train to Kamakura, which takes approximately one hour.
- Buses: Kamakura has a comprehensive bus network that covers the city and its surrounding areas. Local buses are a convenient option for reaching specific attractions or exploring areas that are not easily accessible by train. The Kamakura City Loop Bus, in particular, stops at popular tourist spots, including Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, the Great Buddha, and Hasedera Temple.
- Bicycles: Kamakura is a bicycle-friendly city, and renting a bike is an excellent way to explore its narrow streets and reach attractions at your own pace. Several rental shops near Kamakura Station offer bicycles for hourly or daily rates. Keep in mind that biking is not allowed in pedestrian-only areas, so be mindful of the designated routes and parking areas.
- Walking: Kamakura’s compact size and numerous attractions make it a perfect city for exploring on foot. Many of the key sights, including Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, the Great Buddha, and Hasedera Temple, are within walking distance of Kamakura Station. Follow the city’s well-marked walking routes or use a map to navigate your way through the charming streets and discover hidden gems.
- Taxis: Taxis are available throughout Kamakura, and they can be a convenient option for traveling within the city or reaching specific destinations. Taxis can be found at designated taxi stands or hailed on the street. However, keep in mind that taxi fares can be relatively expensive compared to other modes of transportation.
- Car Rental: While not recommended for getting around within Kamakura due to limited parking and traffic congestion, renting a car can be an option for exploring nearby areas or taking day trips. There are several car rental companies available near Kamakura Station and major cities.
Navigating Kamakura is relatively straightforward, thanks to its efficient transportation system. Consider using a combination of train, bus, and walking to get around the city and explore its attractions. Check schedules and plan your routes in advance to make the most of your time in Kamakura.
Kamakura 1 Day Travel Itinerary
If you have just one day to explore Kamakura, here’s a detailed itinerary to help you make the most of your time:
Morning: Begin your day by immersing yourself in the spiritual atmosphere of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. Explore the expansive grounds, cross its iconic bridges, and marvel at the impressive main hall. Take your time to appreciate the serene ponds and beautiful cherry blossoms if you’re visiting during the spring season.
Afterward, wander through the lively Komachi Street, known for its charming shops and eateries. Indulge in local snacks, browse for souvenirs, or simply soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this bustling street.
Continue your morning with a visit to Hasedera Temple, a tranquil haven known for its stunning gardens and towering pagoda. Marvel at the impressive wooden statue of the goddess Kannon and take in the panoramic views of Kamakura from the temple grounds.
Afternoon: Make your way to the Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kotokuin Temple). Stand in awe before this majestic bronze statue, which has been an iconic symbol of Kamakura for centuries. Explore the temple grounds, admire the craftsmanship, and learn about the history and significance of this cultural treasure.
A short walk from the Great Buddha will take you to Hase-dera Temple. Spend time strolling through its serene gardens, visit the Benten-kutsu Cave for a unique experience, and marvel at the massive statue of the goddess Kannon. Take in the breathtaking views of the coastline from the temple’s observation deck.
If time permits and you’re interested in delving deeper into Kamakura’s history, consider a visit to the Kamakura Museum of National Treasures. Explore its collection of Buddhist sculptures and artifacts, gaining a deeper appreciation for the city’s cultural heritage.
Evening: As the day winds down, head to Yuigahama Beach, just a short walk from Kamakura Station. Take a leisurely stroll along the shore, feel the sand beneath your feet, and enjoy the relaxing ocean breeze. If you’re visiting during the summer months, you may even catch a vibrant beachside event or festival.
For dinner, venture into the city center and explore the diverse culinary scene of Kamakura. Try local specialties such as Kamakura curry, shirasu (whitebait) dishes, or indulge in traditional Japanese cuisine at one of the many restaurants or izakayas.
End your day by savoring a leisurely walk through the illuminated streets of Kamakura, taking in the ambiance and charm of this historic city after dark.
This detailed itinerary allows you to immerse yourself in the cultural and spiritual treasures of Kamakura, while also leaving room for relaxation and culinary exploration. Adapt it to your preferences and interests, ensuring you make the most of your one-day visit to this captivating city.
Kamakura 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary
If you have 3-4 days to spend in Kamakura, you’ll have ample time to explore the city’s historical sites, natural beauty, and nearby attractions. Here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your visit:
- Begin your exploration at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, the spiritual heart of Kamakura. Explore the shrine’s grounds, visit the main hall, and admire the iconic wooden bridges and serene ponds.
- Take a leisurely stroll along Komachi Street, browsing the shops, sampling local snacks, and immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere.
- Visit Hasedera Temple, known for its stunning gardens, towering pagoda, and the large wooden statue of the goddess Kannon. Enjoy panoramic views of Kamakura from the temple grounds.
- Start your day by visiting the Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kotokuin Temple), one of Japan’s most renowned landmarks. Marvel at the massive bronze statue and learn about its historical significance.
- Explore the nearby Hase-dera Temple, famous for its beautiful gardens, Benten-kutsu Cave, and the towering statue of the goddess Kannon.
- Head to the beach and spend the afternoon at Yuigahama Beach. Relax on the sandy shore, take a refreshing dip in the ocean, or simply enjoy the beachside atmosphere.
- Venture to Enoshima, a small island just off the coast of Kamakura. Explore the island’s Shinto shrines, take in the panoramic views from Enoshima Sea Candle observation tower, and visit the enchanting Samuel Cocking Garden.
- Indulge in fresh seafood at one of Enoshima’s many seafood restaurants, savoring specialties like shirasu (whitebait) and grilled fish.
- If time permits, take a scenic boat ride or try water sports like paddleboarding or kayaking along Enoshima’s coastline.
- Take a day trip to Yokohama, a bustling city located nearby. Visit popular attractions such as the historic Red Brick Warehouse, Minato Mirai district, and the stunning Sankeien Garden.
- Explore the Yamate area, known for its Western-style residences and beautiful views of the city.
- Indulge in a shopping spree at Yokohama’s vibrant shopping districts, such as Motomachi and Kannai, where you’ll find a mix of international brands and local boutiques.
These are just some highlights of what Kamakura and its surroundings have to offer. Feel free to adjust the itinerary based on your interests and preferences. Remember to check opening hours and transportation schedules to make the most of your time. Enjoy your visit to Kamakura!
Kamakura 1 Week Travel Itinerary
If you have a week to spend in Kamakura, you can immerse yourself in the city’s rich history, cultural heritage, natural beauty, and nearby attractions. Here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your time:
- Start your journey at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, one of Kamakura’s most important and iconic Shinto shrines. Explore the vast grounds, visit the main hall, and take part in any ongoing ceremonies or events.
- Wander along Komachi Street, a bustling shopping street lined with shops, boutiques, and eateries. Sample local snacks, pick up souvenirs, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere.
- Begin the day with a visit to the Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kotokuin Temple). Marvel at the massive bronze statue and explore the temple grounds.
- Make your way to Hasedera Temple, known for its stunning gardens, towering pagoda, and the wooden statue of the goddess Kannon. Take in the serene atmosphere and enjoy the panoramic views of Kamakura.
- Take a day trip to Enoshima, a nearby island with beautiful beaches and attractions. Visit Enoshima Shrine, explore the island’s caves, and enjoy the breathtaking views from Enoshima Sea Candle observation tower. Take a stroll through the enchanting Samuel Cocking Garden.
- Spend the day exploring the Zen temples of Kamakura. Start with a visit to Kenchoji Temple, the oldest Zen temple in Kamakura. Experience a Zen meditation session and admire the temple’s stunning architecture and tranquil gardens.
- Continue to Engakuji Temple, known for its serene atmosphere and beautiful autumn foliage. Take a peaceful walk through the temple grounds and visit the various halls and gardens.
- Venture to Yokohama, a vibrant city located nearby. Explore attractions such as the historic Red Brick Warehouse, Minato Mirai district, and the beautiful Sankeien Garden. Don’t miss the panoramic views from the Landmark Tower Sky Garden.
- Take a day trip to Nikko, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its elaborate shrines and natural beauty. Visit the Toshogu Shrine, explore the stunning Lake Chuzenji, and take in the breathtaking Kegon Falls. Immerse yourself in the tranquility and cultural richness of Nikko.
- Spend your final day exploring Kamakura’s nature. Visit Kamakurayama, a hill with scenic hiking trails and stunning views of the city and coastline. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and take in the beauty of nature.
- Head to Yuigahama Beach for a relaxing afternoon by the seaside. Take a leisurely walk along the shore, soak up the sun, or try water sports like paddleboarding or surfing.
This one-week itinerary allows you to experience the best of Kamakura’s historical sites, natural beauty, and nearby attractions. Feel free to adjust the itinerary based on your preferences and interests. Enjoy your time in Kamakura!
Is Kamakura A Safe City To Visit?
Kamakura is generally considered a safe city to visit. Japan, as a whole, has a reputation for being one of the safest countries in the world, and Kamakura reflects this overall safety. The city has low crime rates, and visitors can explore its attractions and streets with a sense of security.
However, as with any travel destination, it’s always important to take basic precautions to ensure your safety. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas or tourist spots, and be mindful of your surroundings. It’s advisable to use lockers or hotel safes to store your valuables and carry only necessary items when exploring the city.
Additionally, familiarize yourself with local customs and follow the guidelines and rules set by the authorities. Respect the cultural norms and practices of the area, such as proper etiquette at temples and shrines, and be mindful of local laws and regulations.
Kamakura is a popular tourist destination, and the city takes measures to ensure the safety and well-being of visitors. The local authorities and tourist information centers are available to provide assistance and guidance if needed.
By exercising common sense, staying aware of your surroundings, and following basic safety practices, you can enjoy a safe and memorable visit to Kamakura.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Kamakura?
The best time to visit Kamakura largely depends on your preferences and the experiences you seek. Here are some considerations for each season:
Spring (March to May): Spring is a beautiful time to visit Kamakura, as cherry blossoms (sakura) paint the city in shades of pink. The iconic Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and other parks and gardens become enchanting spots for hanami (flower viewing) parties. The weather is generally pleasant, although it can be crowded during the peak cherry blossom season.
Summer (June to August): Kamakura experiences warm and humid summers. The beaches, such as Yuigahama and Zaimokuza, become popular for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports. The city also hosts lively summer festivals, including the Kamakura Matsuri, with traditional parades and performances.
Autumn (September to November): Autumn in Kamakura offers mild temperatures and beautiful foliage. The gardens and temples take on vibrant hues of red and orange, making it an ideal time for leisurely strolls through places like Hasedera Temple and Kenchoji Temple. It’s also a quieter season, with fewer tourists compared to spring.
Winter (December to February): Winters in Kamakura are relatively mild, with occasional cold temperatures. It’s a less crowded season, providing a tranquil atmosphere for exploring the city’s temples and shrines. The illumination events, such as the Enoshima Winter Illumination, add a magical touch to the city during the festive season.
Overall, the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are considered the best times to visit Kamakura, offering pleasant weather, beautiful scenery, and fewer crowds. However, each season has its own charm and unique experiences to offer. Consider your preferred weather, activities, and the specific events or attractions you wish to see when planning your visit to Kamakura.
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Kamakura?
After your trip to Kamakura, there are several nearby destinations worth exploring. Here are some suggestions for places to visit:
- Tokyo: As Japan’s capital city, Tokyo offers a wealth of attractions and experiences. Explore its vibrant neighborhoods, visit iconic landmarks like Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace, immerse yourself in the shopping and dining scenes, and delve into the rich cultural heritage at museums and temples.
- Yokohama: Located just south of Tokyo, Yokohama is a vibrant port city with a unique blend of modernity and history. Visit attractions like the waterfront Minato Mirai district, Yokohama Chinatown, and the historic Red Brick Warehouse. Take a stroll in Yamashita Park or enjoy panoramic views from the Landmark Tower Sky Garden.
- Nikko: Located north of Tokyo, Nikko is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its ornate shrines and natural beauty. Visit the magnificent Toshogu Shrine, explore the scenic Lake Chuzenji, and admire the breathtaking Kegon Falls. Nikko offers a peaceful retreat into nature and rich cultural heritage.
- Hakone: Famous for its hot springs, scenic beauty, and views of Mount Fuji, Hakone is an excellent destination for relaxation and exploration. Enjoy a soak in the hot springs, take a boat ride on Lake Ashi, ride the Hakone Ropeway for stunning views, and visit the open-air sculpture park at Hakone Open-Air Museum.
- Kamakura’s Surrounding Beaches: If you’re looking to relax and enjoy the coastal scenery, consider visiting the nearby beaches. Zaimokuza Beach, Yuigahama Beach, and Shichirigahama Beach are popular spots for swimming, sunbathing, and water activities during the summer months.
- Fuji Five Lakes: Located at the base of Mount Fuji, the Fuji Five Lakes region offers stunning views of the iconic volcano and opportunities for outdoor activities. Explore the scenic lakes, visit Fuji-Q Highland amusement park, and take in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.
- Enoshima: Just a short distance from Kamakura, Enoshima is a small island known for its beautiful beaches, stunning views, and charming atmosphere. Explore the island’s shrines, caves, and gardens, and enjoy fresh seafood at the local restaurants.
- Kyoto: Known for its traditional culture and historic sites, Kyoto offers a glimpse into Japan’s rich history. Visit magnificent temples and shrines like Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and Fushimi Inari Taisha, stroll through the traditional streets of Gion, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Japanese gardens.
- Nara: Home to friendly deer and historic temples, Nara is a city full of charm. Visit Nara Park, where you can interact with the roaming deer, explore Todai-ji Temple with its giant Buddha statue, and wander through the picturesque streets of Naramachi.
- Osaka: As a vibrant and modern city, Osaka offers a different flavor of Japan. Explore Osaka Castle, sample delicious street food in Dotonbori, and visit Universal Studios Japan for a fun-filled day of entertainment.
- Hiroshima: If you’re interested in learning about Japan’s history and resilience, consider visiting Hiroshima. Explore the Peace Memorial Park and Museum, visit the iconic Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, and try Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, a savory pancake dish.
- Matsumoto: Located in Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto is known for its impressive Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan’s most beautiful historic castles. Explore the castle grounds, visit the nearby Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding mountains.
- Kanazawa: This city in Ishikawa Prefecture offers a glimpse into traditional Japanese arts and culture. Visit Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s most celebrated gardens, explore the samurai district of Nagamachi, and discover the beautiful Kanazawa Castle.
- Takayama: Known for its preserved Edo-era streets and traditional atmosphere, Takayama offers a charming and nostalgic experience. Explore the old town, visit the Takayama Jinya historic government house, and immerse yourself in the local crafts and traditional festivals.
- Shirakawa-go: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shirakawa-go is famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses with steep thatched roofs. Experience the unique rural landscape, visit the open-air museum, and learn about the local lifestyle and culture.
- Ise Shrine: Located in Mie Prefecture, the Ise Grand Shrine is one of Japan’s most sacred Shinto shrines. Explore the shrine complex, including the Inner Shrine (Naiku) and Outer Shrine (Geku), and learn about the important rituals and traditions associated with this spiritual site.
- Okayama: Known as the “Land of Sunshine,” Okayama is home to the stunning Korakuen Garden, one of Japan’s three most beautiful gardens. Visit Okayama Castle, stroll along the historic canal district of Kurashiki, and explore the Okayama Art Museum.
These are just a few suggestions for destinations to visit after your trip to Kamakura. Japan offers a vast array of attractions and experiences, so you can tailor your itinerary based on your interests, available time, and preferred activities. Whether you choose to explore more of the bustling city life or immerse yourself in nature and cultural heritage, there are plenty of options to continue your journey in Japan.
Kamakura Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
Kamakura is a captivating destination that seamlessly combines rich history, cultural heritage, and natural beauty. From its iconic shrines and temples to its picturesque beaches and charming streets, Kamakura offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient Japanese architecture, immersing yourself in Zen Buddhism, or simply enjoying the coastal beauty, Kamakura has something to offer.
Throughout your visit, be sure to prioritize popular attractions like Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, the Great Buddha of Kamakura, and Hasedera Temple. Take your time to wander through Komachi Street, indulging in local snacks and exploring unique shops. Don’t forget to relax on the sandy shores of Yuigahama Beach and take in the stunning views from Enoshima Island.
Additionally, be open to the local cuisine and savor traditional Kamakura dishes, such as shirasu (whitebait) and Kamakura curry. Consider joining guided tours to gain deeper insights into the city’s history and culture, and don’t miss the opportunity to experience Kamakura’s seasonal events and festivals.
As you explore Kamakura, respect the local customs and traditions. Be mindful of the serene atmosphere at temples and shrines, and follow any guidelines or rules in place. Take advantage of the city’s efficient transportation system to navigate between attractions and nearby destinations.
Ultimately, Kamakura offers a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern charm, making it an unforgettable travel destination. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, Kamakura is sure to leave a lasting impression. Embrace the spirit of this historic city, soak in its beauty, and create memories that will stay with you long after your visit.
In Kamakura’s ancient realm I wander, Where history and nature seamlessly meander. Temples and shrines, a sacred embrace, Whispers of samurai and tales of grace.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, mighty and grand, With its wooden bridges, a sight so grand. Great Buddha standing tall and serene, A symbol of peace, tranquil and serene.
Komachi Street, a bustling delight, With shops and flavors to ignite. Savor the tastes of Kamakura’s treat, Shirasu and curry, a culinary feat.
Hasedera Temple, gardens lush and green, Blossoms in spring, a mesmerizing scene. Enoshima Island, a tranquil retreat, Captivating views, a heavenly feat.
Beaches beckon, Yuigahama’s embrace, Golden sands and ocean’s grace. Wander the streets, feel the ancient past, Samurai echoes that forever last.
Kamakura’s beauty, a serene allure, Where time stands still, moments pure. In this ancient city, stories unfold, A traveler’s journey, memories untold.
So venture forth, explore with delight, Kamakura’s treasures, a traveler’s delight. Embrace its culture, breathe its air, Kamakura’s enchantment, beyond compare.