Within Japan’s tourism leader, Brian is based in Tokyo, but finds the time as often as possible to visit one of his favorite places in Japan: the coastal city of Kamakura. Kamakura is an easy day trip from Tokyo and offers a winning combination of historical sites, pretty hiking trails, and a very nice beach. This is why it is often included in our best-selling itineraries! Here, Brian gives his top five tips for what to do in the city.
Meigetsuin is about a 15-minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station. There are beautiful gardens, a cute little tea house, and carved sculptures on the side of the mountain.
Spring and fall are the most beautiful seasons to visit, of course, but if you want to beat the crowd, come in winter, when you have the place to yourself.
2. Daibutsu (Big Buddha) hiking course
This trail starts right next to the Jochi-ji Temple and ends at the Big Buddha. Depending on your pace, it can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. But to be honest, you could spend the whole day here, especially if you really love the outdoors like I do. On a clear day, you can even see Mount Fuji. This is hands down my favorite place in Kamakura.
On the Daibutsu hiking course
3. The Great Buddha at Kotokuin
I have heard stories and seen photos, but nothing is like seeing this in person. The famous Kamakura Buddha is definitely a must see!
You can walk to the Big Buddha from Kamakura Station, which takes about 30 minutes, or you can take a bus, which takes about 10 minutes depending on traffic. Of course, I recommend doing the hiking course and then stopping here afterwards!
There are also some small places to eat something for lunch, and a nice souvenir shop in front of the temple.
The great buddha
4. Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine
This shrine is about a 10-15 minute walk from Kamakura Station. I recommend taking Wakamiya-oji (若 宮 大路) street to get there, walking around the island in the middle of the road. It takes all the way to the sanctuary and it is beautiful.
Once you are there, be sure to explore the area as there are many cool places around the sanctuary.
At the top of the stairs and to the left of the main prayer area, they have a small display of Japanese artifacts. It is worth looking for the small fee. Then when you go back down the stairs go left, you will see some beautiful ponds.
Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine
5. Komachi-dori Street
This road is right in front of Kamakura station, just off the east exit. It is a great place to shop and eat a variety of food. If you don’t mind waiting in line for a while then lunch time is fine, otherwise I would recommend coming here in the afternoon on the way back from Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine. It’s a really nice and relaxing way to end the day.
Kamakura is an easy day trip option from Tokyo, but if you want to stay longer, our Tokaido Trail Small Group Tour includes an overnight on the town. We highly recommend it! Contact one of our experts in Japan for more information.