Looking for the best things to do in Kamakura?
We’ve got you covered! From ancient temples to trendy shopping streets, our top 10 list is your ticket to experiencing this Japanese gem at its finest.
Buckle up, you’re in for an unforgettable journey!
1. Visit the Iconic Great Buddha (Kotokuin)
A journey to Kamakura would be incomplete without a visit to the Great Buddha. This colossus, standing at over 13 meters high, is a testament to Kamakura’s storied past.
As you approach, its serene expression seems to transport you back to the 13th century. The surroundings buzz with reverence and the gentle echo of the temple bells. For a truly immersive experience, step inside the statue and marvel at the ancient engineering.
🔥 Hot tip from a seasoned traveler: Arrive early to avoid the crowds and bask in the quiet morning air.
2. Wander Around the Hasedera Temple
As you meander through the winding pathways of Hasedera Temple, the city’s hustle and bustle fade away. This temple is a haven of tranquility, shrouded in history and natural beauty.
Don’t miss the Kannon-do Hall housing the eleven-headed statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Wander through the stunning hanging gardens, where seasonal flowers create an ever-changing canvas of colors.
Time your visit with one of the temple’s annual events for a deeper cultural immersion.
3. Stroll along the Komachi-Dori Street
Komachi-Dori Street, a lively shopping avenue, offers a blend of tradition and modernity. It’s not just a street, it’s a sensory experience. The wafting aroma of street food, the sight of unique local crafts, and the ambient chatter create a truly vibrant atmosphere.
Among the hodgepodge of shops and cafes, you’ll discover gems like a green tea ice cream that is a crowd favorite. Komachi-Dori offers an unparalleled insight into local life in Kamakura.
4. Explore the Enoshima Island
A stone’s throw away from Kamakura lies the scenic Enoshima Island. You can reach the island via a charmingly antiquated bridge. Best time to visit? Definitely, the late afternoon.
The island is peppered with shrines, each narrating a different story. Don’t forget to ascend the Enoshima Sea Candle, a lighthouse with panoramic views. On clear days, you can even catch a glimpse of the majestic Mt. Fuji.
5. Unwind at Yuigahama Beach
Switch gears and unwind at the sun-kissed Yuigahama Beach. Kamakura’s beach culture is a delightful surprise to many visitors. The sand beneath your feet and the cool sea breeze offer a refreshing contrast to the city’s historic sites.
From beach volleyball in summer to quiet picnics in spring, Yuigahama is a hub of seasonal activities. Round off your beach day with a local brew and some fresh seafood at one of the beachfront bars.
6. Admire the Zeniarai Benten Shrine
Stepping into Zeniarai Benten Shrine feels like uncovering a well-guarded secret. Legend has it that washing money in the shrine’s spring brings prosperity – a practice that intrigues many visitors.
Off the beaten path, this shrine offers a unique experience steeped in local lore. To truly appreciate the tranquility of Zeniarai Benten, visit on a weekday morning when the crowds are sparse.
7. Hike the Daibutsu Hiking Course
For outdoor enthusiasts, Kamakura’s Daibutsu Hiking Course offers a refreshing escape. Winding through verdant hills and ancient temples, this trail gives you a unique perspective of the city.
As you ascend, glimpses of the Great Buddha and the azure sea peek through the foliage. Remember to wear sturdy shoes and bring water, as parts of the trail can be steep. Pro tip: Start your hike early to beat the heat and crowds.
8. Visit Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is not just a place of worship; it’s a window into Kamakura’s history. As the city’s most important Shinto shrine, it’s played a significant role in many historic events.
Stroll through its sprawling grounds, admire the elegant architecture, and if you’re lucky, catch a traditional wedding procession. Time your visit during one of their festivals, such as the Yabusame archery festival, for a vibrant cultural spectacle.
9. Tea Ceremony at Jomyoji Temple
To experience the heartbeat of Japanese culture, partake in a tea ceremony at Jomyoji Temple. The act of preparing and consuming matcha tea is a dance of grace and respect, providing a glimpse into the Japanese philosophy of ‘Ichi-go Ichi-e’ – ‘one time, one meeting’.
Overlooking a serene bamboo garden, the tea room offers a soothing environment to appreciate this centuries-old ritual. Be sure to book in advance to secure your spot.
10. Sample Kamakura’s Food Scene
No trip to Kamakura is complete without indulging in its vibrant food scene. Renowned for its fresh seafood, sweet potatoes, and flavored rice crackers, Kamakura offers a plethora of gastronomic delights.
Enjoy a warm bowl of shirasu-don (whitebait rice bowl), a local specialty, at one of the city’s many eateries. As you stroll along Komachi-Dori, don’t forget to try the purple sweet potato ice cream – a surprising yet delicious combination.
Kamakura is more than just a city; it’s a living museum where the past seamlessly blends with the present. From ancient shrines to bustling streets, and tranquil gardens to lively beaches, there are countless things to do in Kamakura.
From bustling Tokyo to tranquil Kyoto, there’s a multitude of best places to visit in Japan, and Kamakura, with its rich history and unique charm, should undoubtedly be on your list!
So pack your bags and set off on a journey of discovery. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or a foodie, Kamakura awaits you with experiences that will imprint on your memory. Remember, every journey tells a story. Make yours a memorable one.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. When is the best time to visit Kamakura?
The ideal time to visit Kamakura is during the spring (March-May) when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, or in the autumn (September-November) when the leaves change color. However, Kamakura is beautiful year-round, each season offering a unique charm.
2. How do I reach Kamakura from Tokyo?
Kamakura is easily accessible from Tokyo by train. You can take the JR Yokosuka Line directly from Tokyo Station to Kamakura, which takes about an hour. Alternatively, the Enoden Line offers a scenic coastal journey from Fujisawa to Kamakura.
3. Is it possible to explore Kamakura in a day?
While it is possible to cover the major attractions in a day, Kamakura has so much to offer that spending two to three days allows for a more relaxed and immersive experience.
4. What should I pack for a trip to Kamakura?
It’s recommended to dress in layers as the weather can vary. Comfortable shoes are a must for temple hopping and hiking. Don’t forget to pack a hat and sunscreen for the summer, and an umbrella or raincoat during the rainy season.
5. Are there English-guided tours available in Kamakura?
Yes, there are numerous tour operators in Kamakura offering English-guided tours. These tours often cover key attractions and provide insightful commentary, making them a great option for first-time visitors.
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About Ronaldo Stewart
Wantigo was born out of a deep passion for exploring new places and experiencing different cultures. With a keen sense of adventure and an insatiable thirst for knowledge, I’ve traveled far and wide, immersing myself in the beauty and wonder of the world.