Kamakura is a coastal town in Kanagawa Prefecture, South of Tokyo. This little town is the perfect destination for a day trip out of Tokyo. By train from Tokyo station, it will only take about an hour to get to Kamakura station. This little town with it’s rich culture has plenty to offer to keep you busy the entire day. When visiting in summer you might want to bring swimming cloths and enjoy the sand beaches! While you are there take a refreshing dive into the ocean. Don’t like the beach and want to take a break of culture? Hike along one of the hiking trails.
What is in this guide?
What to see in Kamakura
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the most important shrine in Kamakura and would definitely visit here when you are in town. You can reach the shrine from the station by following either the Komachi- dori shopping street or the main street with a walking boulevard in the middle that runs from the waterfront through the entire town up to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. The shrine was founded in 1063 and Minamoto Yoritomo moved the shrine to its present location in Kamakura in 1180.
When you enter the area to the shrine, you will see two ponds one with three islands in it and one with four. They one with three represents the Minamoto Clan and the one with four there enemy because the number four can also be pronounced the same way as death in Japanese.
The entire temple area is very nice. So if you have the time wonder around and enjoy the area before you leave for your next temple visit.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine opening times and entrance fee
- 5:00 – 21:00 April – September
- 6:00 – 21:00 October – March
- 24 hours on January 1 – 3
- Museum: 200 yen
Engakuji temple is best visited first if you come by train. One stop before Kamakura station get off at Kita Kamakura. The temple is situated close to the station. The temple is build into the slopes off Kita-Kamakura’s forested hills. One of the purposes of Engakuji temple is paying respect to the fallen soldiers off the second attempt from the Mongolians to invade the area in 1281. It also houses two National treasures.
The tooth of Buddha in Shariden hall and the large bell next to a teahouse on a hill. Engakuji temple is very popular during fall when the trees change colors.
Engakuji Temple opening times and entrance fee
- 08:00 – 16:30 March – November
- 08:00 – 16:00 December – February
- 300 Yen
A beatiful temple I found by chance when I visited Kamakura. Hasedera temple is famous for its eleven-headed statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The wooden statue is one of the largest wooden sculptures in Japan with a height of 9.18 meters. You can find the statue in the main building, the Kannon-do hall. Unfortunately pictures are not allowed.
After you climb some stairs, you are able to get a nice view of the bay.
Around the complex you can find cute (kawaii) statues.
Don’t forget to bring a visit to the small cave (to the right of the pond) to see sculptures of Benten and other gods.
Hasedera Temple opening times and entrance fee
- 08:00 – 17:30 March – September
- 08:00 – 17:00 October – February
- 300 Yen
The great Buddha of Kamakura is one of the biggest buddha’s in Japan with his 13.35-meter height and is made of bronze. The statue was cast in 1252 and used to be inside a temple hall. Due to the building being destroyed several times the Buddha stands in open air since 1495. Definitely worth visiting. Best to combine with the Hasedera Temple since the two are in the same area.
The easiest way to get to the Great Buddha is to take the Enoden railway line. From Kamakura station it’s three stops to get to Hase station. From there it’s a 10 minute walk.
Great Buddha opening times and entrance fee
- 08:00 – 17:30 May – September
- 08:00 – 17:00 October – March
- 300 Yen
Hokokuji Temple is known for the small bamboo grove behind the main hall. The grove holds over 2000 bamboo stalks. It’s also possible to drink tea for 500 Yen. Just walk along the narrow path through the grove to find the tea house. You can also find shallow caves behind the temple. Don’t forget to visit the beautiful bell tower.
Hokokuji Temple opening times and entrance fee
- 09:00 – 16:00 March – September
- Closed December 29 – January 3
- 200 Yen
Hiking, shopping and the beach
Sometimes you are done with culture and need a break. One thing could be shopping. Between Kamakura station and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine you’ll find plenty off shops and restaurants to spend time in between all culture you’ll find in this beautiful town. The area is easy to find. When you get out of the station, you can’t miss Komachidori Street. Another option is going to the beach.
Maybe you don’t want to bake at the beach or shop till you drop. What about one of this three hiking trails?
Kuzuharaoka/Daibutsu Hiking Trail
This trail starts close to Jochiji Temple that lies near Kita Kamakura station and runs all the way to the Great Buddha. The trail takes about 60 – 90 minutes to complete. Along the way you’ll pass the Genjiyama public park andZeniarai Benten Shrine.
Tenen Hiking Trail
Tenen Hiking Trail runs from Kenchoji Temple in Kita-Kamakura to the Zuisenji Temple in the east of the city. The trail runs along the hills and takes about 60-90 minutes to complete. When you plan to do the trail by the end of November or early December, consider accessing the trail from Shishimai Valley a popular spot for autumn foliage.
Gionyama Hiking Trail
The shortest trail of the three. It takes about 30 minutes to complete. Along this trail you get threated to some nice views of the town. You can reach this trail from Kamakura station in about 8 minutes.
How to get to Kamakura from Tokyo
The best way to get to Kamakura is by train from Tokyo. From Tokyo Station take the JR Yokosuka Line for Kurihama. There are many more options you can take to get to Kamakura. I recommend checking Hyperdia for current prices and options.
Travel Time: 55 minutes