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- Seaside Sightseeing Spot - Kamakura
Surrounded by sea and mountains is one of Japan's most distinguished ancient capitals, Kamakura, which is popular as a tourist destination for being Japan's first samurai capital. There are many ways for you to experience Japanese culture and tradition here.
The symbol of Kamakura standing in the centre of town
Considered to be the image of Kamakura is Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, which is a shrine located in the central area of town where people have gathered to pray for over 950 years. The approach to the shrine right in the middle of town still remains. After entering the area, once you have ascended the imposing stairs you are already on holy ground. Upon passing under the magnificent crimson painted gates, try to make a prayer after watching the way the Japanese around you do it. Since samurai have been enshrined here over many years, apparently there are many Japanese people who swear to achieve great things before the gods here.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
2-1-31 Yukinoshita, Kamakura, Kanagawa
Standing 11 metres in height and with a mass of 121 tons, the Great Buddha of Kamakura is highly regarded since it still retains its original form as when it was built over 700 years ago. It's said that while originally it was enshrined within the Daibutsu-den hall, due to a tsunami in 1495, the outer building was destroyed and only the Great Buddha statue remains. You can also enjoy the special experience of actually going inside the statue itself.
When using other forms of public transport to get to Kamakura from Haneda Airport, you need to do several transfers. But, if you use the HANEDA AIRPORT EXPRESS, then you can get to Kamakura directly without transferring anywhere. You can even store large baggage in the trunk of the bus, so it's really easy.
If you visit Kamakura in spring, going to Kencho-ji Temple, which is famous as a cherry blossom area, is highly recommended. The many cherry blossom trees in bloom on the approach to the shrine and also the surroundings make it a very special space. You will definitely feel moved by the contrast between the gentle color and the temple which connects the past with the present.
The beauty of Japan is expressed differently in all types of weather. During the rainy season, the hydrangea flower in bloom is the main star representing Kamakura's scenery. The hydrangeas that you see at Meigetsu-in Temple are especially pure and lovely, gently enveloping you with emotion.
Rinzai Sect Kencho-ji School Fukugenzan Meigetsu-in Temple
189 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa
If you visit Kamakura in summer, going to Hokoku-ji, otherwise known as 'the bamboo temple' is recommended. When the wind blows, the leaves of the overgrown green bamboo trees make a beautiful rustling sound. Surrender yourself to the beauty of the fresh new leaves and let yourself relax.
In autumn, Kamakura which is bordered by mountains to the East, North and West, no matter where you go in town you can enjoy the beautiful red autumn leaves. A place famous especially for autumn leaves is Engaku-ji Temple. Once within the temple grounds, you can stay and enjoy the beautiful autumn leaves in silence here.
The number one spot for shopping and eating
Most people who come to Kamakura walk from Kamakura Railway Station to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine along the Komachi-dori street. Filled with unique souvenir stores and popular restaurants, it has been a popular temple town for hundreds of years.
A way to experience Kamakura at a gentle pace
The charm of the rickshaw comes from being able to explore Kamakura gradually from the same perspective as the people in the past. The traditional cart and driver's costume make your trip even more enjoyable. If you require a guide who speaks English, you can get one if you book in advance. Many international visitors enjoy the rickshaw experience.
Access points are Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Kamakura Railway Station West Exit, Komachi-dori Church, Enoshima Railway Hase Railway Station, Ninotorii, Hase-dera and Komachi-dori Street Entrance. For more details please visit the website.
Tea ceremony in a beautiful Zen garden
If you wish to experience the beauty and spirituality of Zen, Kisen-an, located within Jomyo-ji Temple is recommended. Experiencing a tea ceremony while gazing at the beautiful dry landscape garden lets you really feel the traditional way of the Japanese. Depending on the season and weather, the many different expressions of the Zen garden reveal the essence of Japanese culture to international visitors. The delicate and cute Japanese sweets also condense the beauty of Japan. The cats kept on the premises may come to welcome you inside.
A shop where you can rent the type of clothes and accessories used 800 years ago. You can go outside the shop in the costumes that you borrow, so many travelers enjoy trying out the samurai experience. The 'Daibutsu Pass' where the ancient landscape remains is an especially popular spot for taking commemorative photos.
The best place for luck with wealth in Kamakura is Zeniarai-Benzaiten. If you wash your money in the clean water from the cave within the grounds, it's been said since 750 years ago that your wealth will increase. It's approximately a 20 minute walk from Kamakura Railway Station, so it might make for a good little hike.
Go a little further to Enoshima
A picturesque ocean scene spot also popular with Japanese people is Enoshima. The cute train that runs there from Kamakura is known as the Enoden. In a day here, you can enjoy the Sea Candle lighthouse lookout from which you can see Kamakura, Shonan and Mt. Fuji, an aquarium, a yacht harbor, a spa from which you can see the ocean and more. Enoshima shrine where the Japanese goddess Benzaiten is enshrined, is a popular god of matchmaking.
There are two services a day to Kamakura Railway Station.
Haneda Airport - Kamakura Railway Station: 1,370 yen
A ticket system is in use on the buses from Haneda Airport. Please use the Bus Ticket Sales Counter or the ticket vending machines at the bus stop.
When travelling to Haneda Airport, please pay by putting your money or bus ticket into the fare collection box.
For reservations please contact the Keikyu Highway Bus Reservation Center.
Phone: 03-3743-0022 (9:00 am - 6:30 pm). English, Chinese (Mandarin) and Korean operators available.
This article was published in December 2013.
Former Yokohama sightseeing ambassador Sae Kitazawa will guide us through the historic and charming ancient capital of Kamakura.