Kamakura is a coastal city located south of Tokyo, Japan. It's a city that has kept me infatuated over the years—The traditional architecture of the temples, the picturesque little shops on Komachi Street, and delicious street food—combined with lush gardens, forested mountains, and views that overlook the Pacific coast—Kamakura packs a lot of charm. Not to mention it is only an hour away from central Tokyo which makes Kamakura an ideal option to consider while you stay in Japan. A view made iconic by being featured in manga series Slam Dunk--Photo by hans-johnson
Brief History Introduction Minamoto Yoritomo—founder of the Kamakura shogunate—located his central headquarters in Kamakura which marked the beginning of the Kamakura Period. This era is famous for the rise of the warrior class (Bushi or Samurai). Bushi culture was developing at this time; as a form of mental discipline, they began the practice of Zen Buddhism. Hence, the first Zen temple in Japan was established in Kamakura.
Kamakura Bushi culture has played in important role in influencing Japan's society to this day.
Source: and for more information go to Kamakura's official tourist site here.
When is the best time to visit? Unless you are going solely to the beach, I don't recommend going in the summer due to Japan's hot and humid summers. The optimal time for exploring Kamakura is in spring or fall. In spring, pink and white cherry blossoms swarm the city, and in fall, red and gold leaves cover the surrounding wooded mountains. Which make both seasons a worthwhile time to visit.
Tip: If you do go in the summer, there is plenty of ice cream and cold beer to be had at every turn, so you can cool off when it gets too hot.
Access You can reach Kamakura directly from Tokyo via the JR Yokosuka Line. Edit: as Christy pointed out in the comment section below, Odakyu Electric Railways offers a 1-day round trip pass from Shinjuku to the Enoshima-Kamakura area for 1,470 yen. This pass will cover all transportation you need to get to the locations on this list. It will save you around 1,000 yen(for the total trip), but it will take a little bit longer to get to Kamakura(about 34 min.).
To get the most out of your day trip to Kamakura, I recommend you start early in the morning. Without further ado, here are the top 4 things to do and see in Kamakura:
1. Sample Street Food While Exploring Komachi Street
At three hundred and sixty meters long, Komachi-dori is bursting with fashionable stores that sell souvenirs, antiques, and handmade arts and crafts—along with tempting street food stalls and restaurants. Explore the various shops while sampling the local street food. Kamakura is known for shirasu-don(whitebait served over rice), korokke (Japanese Croquette), and sweet potato ice cream. Try takoyaki topped with shirasu, and chocolate filled korokke(yep, chocolate)—so good!
Access A five-minute walk from Kamakura Station.
2. Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine
After exploring Komachi-dori, head over to Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine. Kamakura's most famous and important shrine. The main walkway starts from Wakamiya-oji Street which runs parallel with Komachi-dori. Surrounding the path is green gardens, vibrant trees, and ponds teeming with wildlife. If you are here in the spring, cherry blossoms will be lining the way. I enjoy the path leading up to as much, if not more than the shrine.
3. Daibutsu (Great Buddha)
This giant bronze statue is a short hike from Hase Station. Construction of the statue began as early as 1252, though, it has been restored throughout the years. If you walk behind the statue, there is an entrance to where you can see the interior. Even though it's a touristy spot, it is worth the short hike for the sheer size of the statue. Access Approximately a 10-minute walk from Hase Station. Take the Enoden Line via Kamakura to Hase.
4. Eat Seafood and Watch the Sunset in Enoshima
Finish your day in Enoshima—a small island near the coast of Kamakura. Explore the main street leading up to Enoshima Shrine. The street is full of appeal lined with alluring shops and inviting restaurants. Try some fresh—Japanese style—seafood, which Enoshima is famous for. I ate kaisen-don(mixed seafood over rice) for the first time in Enoshima, and it has since been a favorite. After you eat, find a spot to enjoy panoramic views of the sunset over the Pacific ocean. If it's a clear day, you might catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji on the horizon.
Top spots to view the sunset from Enoshima
Enoshima Bentenbashi Bridge
Access to Enoshima from Kamakura Take the Enoden Line from Kamakura ( or Hase) to Enoshima.
Whether you are visiting Tokyo or living here, Kamakura is the perfect day trip waiting to happen. What are some of your favorite spots? Comment below and let me know!
I spent some time in the Tokyo area a few years ago. Japan went above and beyond my expectations--the streets were cleaner and the people kinder. I am planning on moving to Japan this fall. That said, more adventures coming soon.
Thank you for this article! I'm really excited to visit Kamakura + Enoshima! But I wanted to add another possible mode of transport from Tokyo, if that's okay. It turns out, the Odakyu Electric Railways offers a 1 day pass for transport around Enoshima and Kamakura for only 1,470 yen. This also includes round trips to Enoden station from Shinjuku station with different train options! I'll provide the link here: http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/enoshima_kamakura/.