If you’re seeking the best things to do in Kamakura, look no further! In this blog post, we’ll be your local guides, sharing our past experiences and insider tips on this magical city.
From our last visit to this place, we learned that Kamakura’s charm lies not just in its famous landmarks, but in the lesser-known treasures waiting to be discovered.
From ancient temples steeped in history to stunning beaches and serene gardens, Kamakura has it all. So get ready to immerse yourself in the heart of Japan’s cultural marvels, as we unveil the hidden gems that make Kamakura a traveler’s paradise.
So, if you’re eager to delve into the enchanting world of Kamakura’s temples, shrines, and natural beauty, let’s set off on this exciting journey together. Get ready for a travel experience like no other – Kamakura awaits!
Interesting Facts about Kamakura
- Kamakura is a coastal city located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.
- The city was once the political capital of Japan during the Kamakura period (1185-1333).
- Kamakura is home to the iconic Great Buddha (Daibutsu), a towering bronze statue dating back to the 13th century.
- The city boasts a wealth of ancient temples and shrines, including Tsurugaoka Hachimangu and Hase-dera Temple.
- Kamakura’s scenic beauty is enhanced by its picturesque beaches, such as Yuigahama Beach and Inamuragasaki Beach.
Best Things to Do in Kamakura
1. Explore Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Step into the majestic world of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, a symbol of Kamakura’s rich heritage. Follow the cobblestone paths to the main hall, where ancient rituals and ceremonies still take place, offering a glimpse into Japan’s storied past.
The shrine’s vibrant festivals, including the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Reitaisai, captivate visitors with traditional music and colorful processions.
- Location: In the heart of Kamakura city
- Best Time to Visit: Cherry blossom season (March to April) for picturesque views.
- Famous For: Its grand entrance, vibrant festivals, and spiritual significance.
2. Visit The Great Buddha (Daibutsu)
In the midst of lush greenery, behold the magnificence of the Great Buddha, a towering bronze masterpiece dating back to the 13th century. This iconic 44-feet tall statue exudes a profound sense of serenity, inviting you to ponder the city’s historical significance.
Offering a sense of awe-inspiring tranquility, Daibutsu remains an enduring symbol of Kamakura’s spiritual essence.
- Location: Kotokuin Temple, close to Hase-dera Temple
- Best Time to Visit: Early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds.
- Famous For: A monumental bronze Buddha statue, an emblem of Kamakura’s medieval era.
3. Wander Through Hase-Dera Temple
Tucked away in the lush hills, Hase-dera Temple welcomes visitors with its picturesque gardens and historic pagodas. Meander through the hydrangea-lined pathways during spring, and witness the vibrant hues of crimson leaves in autumn.
Ascend to the temple’s observation deck for breathtaking panoramas of Kamakura’s coastal charm, offering a moment of reflection amid nature’s beauty.
- Location: In Hase, a short distance from Kamakura city center.
- Best Time to Visit: Late spring for the blooming of hydrangeas and autumn for fall foliage.
- Famous For: A tranquil temple complex with stunning views of Kamakura and the coastline.
4. Enjoy The Views From Enoshima Island
Escape to the captivating Enoshima Island, where the azure sea meets golden shores. Traverse the enchanting sea caves, and if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of sea turtles or dolphins swimming gracefully.
Stroll along the lush paths of the Samuel Cocking Garden, home to exotic plant species and stunning vistas. This island paradise promises a rejuvenating escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.
- Location: A short ferry ride from Kamakura’s Yuigahama Beach.
- Best Time to Visit: Anytime for its serene landscapes and oceanic allure.
- Famous For: Stunning coastal views, sea caves, and vibrant marine life.
5. Stroll Along Komachi-Dori Street
Venture into the heart of Kamakura’s bustling charm as you set foot on Komachi-dori Street. Meandering through this lively thoroughfare, you’ll encounter a delightful array of boutique shops, cafes, and artisanal stores.
Savor the aroma of freshly roasted coffee while perusing traditional handicrafts and regional specialties.
Don’t miss the chance to indulge in delectable street food like taiyaki, a fish-shaped cake filled with sweet red bean paste, or freshly made warabimochi.
As you traverse this bustling avenue, you’ll sense the fusion of old and new, where the city’s rich history intertwines seamlessly with modern-day vibrancy.
- Location: Central Kamakura, easily accessible from Kamakura Station.
- Best Time to Visit: Weekends for a lively atmosphere and diverse street vendors.
- Famous For: A vibrant shopping street offering local delicacies, souvenirs, and cultural experiences.
6. Discover Kencho-Ji Temple
Embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery at Kencho-ji Temple, the epitome of Zen serenity. This ancient temple, dating back to the 13th century, stands as a testament to Kamakura’s profound spiritual heritage.
Engage in the art of Zen meditation, guided by experienced monks, and immerse yourself in the essence of mindfulness.
The temple’s Zen gardens and picturesque surroundings create an idyllic setting for introspection and inner peace. Take a meditative stroll through the temple’s tranquil grounds, where the sound of rustling leaves harmonizes with the gentle whispers of Zen teachings.
- Location: A short walk from Kita-Kamakura Station, amidst verdant landscapes.
- Best Time to Visit: Spring for cherry blossoms or autumn for vibrant foliage.
- Famous For: Japan’s oldest Zen temple, offering Zen meditation experiences.
7. Take In The Beauty Of Meigetsu-In Temple
Prepare to be enchanted by the ethereal allure of Meigetsu-in Temple, fondly known as the “Hydrangea Temple.” As summer unfolds, thousands of vibrant hydrangea flowers bloom, painting the temple’s gardens with splashes of blue and purple.
Stroll through these enchanting floral pathways and let the colors and fragrances transport you to a realm of tranquility. The temple’s iconic circular window, often referred to as the “Window of Enlightenment,” frames the blooms like a living work of art.
Allow yourself to be swept away by the beauty of nature’s palette, a divine symphony harmonizing with your soul.
- Location: Adjacent to Kencho-ji Temple, a serene walk through nature.
- Best Time to Visit: Late June for the blooming of exquisite hydrangeas.
- Famous For: A mesmerizing Hydrangea Temple, an oasis of calm and seasonal blooms.
8. Marvel At The Bamboo Groves Of Hokoku-Ji Temple
Step into a realm of tranquility and Zen at Hokoku-ji Temple, nestled amidst a serene bamboo grove. As you traverse the winding paths through the towering bamboo shoots, you’ll feel a sense of serenity and wonder.
Visit the temple’s teahouse, a peaceful oasis where you can partake in a traditional matcha tea ceremony while surrounded by the gentle rustling of bamboo leaves.
This ethereal haven offers an opportunity to experience the essence of Japanese culture and spirituality, a cherished memory etched in the heart.
- Location: Hidden in eastern Kamakura, accessible by bus or a leisurely walk.
- Best Time to Visit: Early morning to avoid crowds and soak in the serene ambiance.
- Famous For: A Zen temple boasting a captivating bamboo forest and serene teahouse.
9. Relax At Yuigahama Beach
Embrace the laid-back coastal charm of Yuigahama Beach, where the soothing rhythm of waves invites you to unwind. Whether you’re sunbathing on the soft sands, indulging in water sports, or simply savoring the sea breeze, this beach promises a blissful escape.
As the sun sets over the horizon, casting a golden glow on the ocean’s surface, you’ll be mesmerized by the beauty of nature’s spectacle. An evening stroll along the beach, with the silhouette of Enoshima Island in the distance, will leave you with cherished memories of Kamakura’s coastal enchantment.
- Location: Easily accessible from Kamakura Station, a short walk from Komachi-dori Street.
- Best Time to Visit: Summer for swimming and beach activities under the warm sun.
- Famous For: A picturesque beach offering golden sands, azure waters, and stunning sunsets.
10. Admire The Historical Zeniarai Benten Shrine
Enter the mystical realm of Zeniarai Benten Shrine, where ancient traditions and intriguing rituals beckon. Engage in the curious custom of “money-washing,” where visitors cleanse their coins and bills in spring within the shrine’s cave.
Legend has it that money washed here multiplies, bringing good fortune to those who perform the ritual. The serene ambiance surrounding the shrine adds to the mystical allure, making it a must-visit spot for an enchanting experience.
- Location: A short walk from Kamakura’s main train station.
- Best Time to Visit: Weekdays for a more peaceful experience.
- Famous For: A unique money-washing ritual believed to double the fortunes of those who partake.
11. Hike To The Top Of Mount Inamuragasaki
Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a journey to the summit of Mount Inamuragasaki, where nature’s beauty unfolds before your eyes. As you ascend through lush greenery and rocky trails, the panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean and Enoshima Island captivate your senses.
Witness the changing colors of the sky during sunrise or sunset, creating a breathtaking spectacle that paints the horizon with hues of gold and pink. This invigorating hike promises a rewarding escape from the ordinary, providing a harmonious union of nature and exploration.
- Location: Southern Kamakura, reachable by bus or on foot.
- Best Time to Visit: Any season, depending on your preference for landscapes and weather.
- Famous For: Spectacular views of the ocean and Enoshima Island from the summit.
12. Visit The Kamakura Museum Of National Treasures
Delve into the annals of Japan’s storied past as you step into the Kamakura Museum of National Treasures. This cultural gem houses an extensive collection of historical artifacts and art pieces, narrating the city’s pivotal role in shaping Japan’s history.
From intricately crafted pottery to ancient calligraphy scrolls, each exhibit unveils a glimpse into the lives and achievements of the people who once thrived in Kamakura. A visit to this museum is an enriching journey through time, fostering a deeper appreciation for the city’s cultural heritage.
- Location: Conveniently located near Kamakura’s main train station.
- Best Time to Visit: Anytime to explore Japan’s cultural heritage and historical artifacts.
- Famous For: A rich collection of national treasures, showcasing Kamakura’s historical significance.
13. Explore The Jufuku-Ji Temple
Uncover the serenity of Jufuku-ji Temple, a hidden gem that exudes a sense of understated elegance. This Zen temple, founded in the 13th century, embraces the philosophy of simplicity, with a minimalist design that allows you to find solace in quiet contemplation.
The temple’s lush garden, adorned with meticulously placed stones and vibrant foliage, adds to the harmonious ambiance. Participate in meditation sessions guided by experienced monks, and let the essence of Zen permeate your being.
- Location: A short walk from Kamakura’s main train station, near Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.
- Best Time to Visit: Anytime to embrace the temple’s tranquil atmosphere and historic charm.
- Famous For: An elegant Zen temple, admired for its simplicity and traditional beauty.
14. Enjoy The Seasonal Blooms At Ofuna Kannon Temple
Embark on a spiritual journey to Ofuna Kannon Temple, a sanctuary of peace and contemplation. Marvel at the towering Kannon statue, which stands at an impressive height of 25 meters, radiating a sense of compassion and protection.
The temple’s gardens, meticulously landscaped with seasonal blooms, create a tranquil atmosphere ideal for introspection.
As you walk along the winding paths, allow the gentle rustle of leaves and the soft fragrance of flowers to awaken your senses, fostering a moment of tranquility amidst the bustling city life.
- Location: Just outside Kamakura, accessible by train or bus.
- Best Time to Visit: Spring for cherry blossoms, and autumn for vibrant maple foliage.
- Famous For: A majestic Kannon statue and beautiful gardens, offering a serene escape.
15. Discover The History Of Kamakura At Kamakura Museum
Unearth the captivating tales of Kamakura’s past as you explore the Kamakura Museum, an archival treasure trove of the city’s cultural heritage. The museum’s exhibits range from ancient artifacts to artistic masterpieces, allowing visitors to traverse the annals of time and gain insights into the city’s evolution.
Be it exquisite pottery, samurai armor, or traditional Noh masks, each artifact narrates a unique story, reflecting the diverse facets of Kamakura’s rich history.
A visit to this museum is a journey of discovery, inviting you to retrace the footsteps of bygone eras and marvel at the legacies they left behind.
- Location: In central Kamakura, accessible by train or a leisurely walk.
- Best Time to Visit: Anytime to delve into the city’s rich historical narrative.
- Famous For: A comprehensive collection of artifacts depicting Kamakura’s cultural legacy.
16. Experience the Traditional Tea Ceremony At Jomyo-Ji Temple
Indulge in an ancient ritual of grace and harmony at Jomyo-ji Temple, where the art of tea takes center stage. Embrace the timeless elegance of the tea ceremony, guided by seasoned practitioners who embody the spirit of omotenashi (hospitality).
The temple’s serene surroundings and traditional tea room create an authentic ambiance for this cherished cultural experience. As you savor the rich aroma and taste of matcha, a sense of tranquility envelops you, leaving an indelible mark on your cultural journey through Kamakura.
- Location: A serene walk from Kamakura’s main train station, amidst lush greenery.
- Best Time to Visit: Anytime to partake in the refined art of Japanese tea culture.
- Famous For: Offering authentic tea ceremonies in a tranquil Zen setting.
17. Learn About Samurai Culture At Samurai Kembu Theater Kamakura
Embark on an immersive journey into the world of samurai at the Samurai Kembu Theater Kamakura. Witness the artistry and precision of swordsmanship in live performances, as skilled performers demonstrate the essence of the samurai way of life.
Gain insights into the code of bushido, the virtues of loyalty, honor, and self-discipline, as the performers narrate the historical significance of samurai culture. This theatrical experience offers an engaging blend of history, martial arts, and storytelling, transporting you to a bygone era when the samurai were the embodiment of bravery and valor.
- Location: In central Kamakura, easily reachable from the main train station.
- Best Time to Visit: Anytime to delve into the history and traditions of the samurai.
- Famous For: Live performances showcasing the art of samurai swordsmanship.
18. Take A Bike Tour Around Kamakura’s Attractions
Embark on an exciting adventure as you pedal through the city’s enchanting landscapes on a bike tour. Rent a bicycle and explore Kamakura’s historic temples, scenic beaches, and charming neighborhoods.
Cycle along the coastline, soaking in the invigorating sea breeze, or venture through the tranquil countryside, surrounded by lush greenery.
A bike tour offers the perfect opportunity to uncover hidden gems and experience the city from a local’s perspective, creating cherished memories that will stay with you long after your journey ends.
- Location: Various bike rental shops available near Kamakura’s main train station.
- Best Time to Visit: Spring or autumn for pleasant weather and beautiful scenery.
- Famous For: Exploring Kamakura’s highlights at a leisurely pace on two wheels.
19. Visit The Zuisen-Ji Temple And Its Beautiful Garden
Unravel the Zen allure of Zuisen-ji Temple, a tranquil oasis hidden amidst the verdant hills. As you step into the temple’s meticulously landscaped garden, you’ll be captivated by the harmony of stones, moss, and gently flowing water.
Take a meditative walk through the garden’s winding paths, immersing yourself in the Zen principles of simplicity and balance. The temple’s wooden structures, adorned with traditional shoji screens and delicate calligraphy, create a haven of peace and reflection, leaving you with a profound sense of tranquility.
- Location: Amidst the hills of eastern Kamakura, accessible by bus or on foot.
- Best Time to Visit: Late spring for the blooming of azaleas, or autumn for fall foliage.
- Famous For: A serene Zen temple renowned for its meticulously designed landscape.
20. Explore The Kamakura-Gu Shrine And Its Historic Treasures
Embark on a journey to Kamakura-gu Shrine, a revered sanctuary that echoes the city’s ancient roots. Admire the majestic torii gate, symbolizing the boundary between the earthly and spiritual realms.
Explore the shrine’s architectural marvels, such as the main hall and haiden, adorned with intricate carvings and rich history.
The shrine’s treasure hall houses a diverse collection of cultural artifacts, including ancient swords, religious relics, and ceremonial items. Kamakura-gu Shrine offers a captivating glimpse into the spiritual essence of Kamakura, inviting you to marvel at the city’s enduring traditions.
- Location: Near Kamakura’s main train station, within easy walking distance.
- Best Time to Visit: Anytime to delve into Kamakura’s Shinto heritage.
- Famous For: A significant Shinto shrine with ancient artifacts and cultural relics.
Best Time to Visit Kamakura
The best time to visit Kamakura is during the spring (March to April) and autumn (September to November) seasons. These periods offer mild weather, comfortable temperatures, and beautiful natural landscapes, making it ideal for exploring the city’s historical sites, gardens, and beaches.
Spring brings stunning cherry blossoms, transforming Kamakura into a pink wonderland, while autumn delights with vibrant foliage, creating a picturesque setting for sightseeing and outdoor activities. Avoiding the peak summer months (June to August) is advisable due to higher temperatures and humidity, although the coastal breeze can provide some relief during this time.
How to Get to Kamakura
- By Train: Kamakura is accessible via the JR Yokosuka Line, which connects Tokyo and Yokohama. Trains from Tokyo Station to Kamakura run frequently, taking approximately 50 minutes. From Yokohama, the journey takes around 25 minutes. If you’re coming from other parts of Japan, you can take a Shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo or Shin-Yokohama Station and transfer to the Yokosuka Line.
- By Enoshima Electric Railway (Enoden): This charming scenic train line connects Fujisawa and Kamakura, passing through picturesque coastal views. If you’re coming from Enoshima or Fujisawa, the Enoden line offers a delightful and leisurely journey.
- By Bus: Kamakura is also accessible by bus from various neighboring cities and towns. Buses connect Kamakura to places like Yokohama, Fujisawa, and Tokyo, offering an economical option for travel.
Where to Stay in Kamakura
1. Kamakura Prince Hotel: Overlooking Sagami Bay, Kamakura Prince Hotel offers breathtaking ocean views and a serene atmosphere. With spacious rooms, elegant decor, and modern amenities, guests can indulge in luxury and comfort. The hotel’s prime location allows easy access to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and Hase-dera Temple, making it an excellent choice for travelers seeking a tranquil retreat with convenient proximity to Kamakura’s cultural landmarks.
2. WeBase Kamakura: Embrace a vibrant and youthful ambiance at WeBase Kamakura, a stylish hostel catering to budget-conscious travelers. Boasting a trendy design and friendly atmosphere, this eco-friendly accommodation offers both dormitory and private rooms. With a laid-back communal lounge and terrace, it’s an ideal spot to mingle with fellow travelers.
3. Kamakura Guest House: Experience Japanese hospitality at its finest at Kamakura Guest House, a cozy and traditional inn. Nestled amidst a tranquil neighborhood, the guest house offers a taste of local living with comfortable tatami rooms and futon bedding. Guests can unwind in the beautiful garden or savor authentic Japanese meals prepared by the friendly hosts.
Where to Eat in Kamakura
1. Enoshima Iwamoto-ro: Indulge in a delectable seafood feast at Enoshima Iwamoto-ro, a renowned restaurant overlooking the ocean. With a wide variety of fresh seafood dishes, including sashimi, grilled fish, and tempura, this establishment offers a true taste of Kamakura’s coastal bounty.
2. Kamakura Ganko: Treat your taste buds to authentic Kamakura-style cuisine at Kamakura Ganko, a charming eatery with a rustic ambiance. Specializing in traditional dishes like Kamakura shirasu (whitebait) and local vegetables, this restaurant showcases the city’s culinary heritage.
3. Komachi-dori Saryo: Experience the art of Japanese tea and confectionery at Komachi-dori Saryo, a tea house tucked away in Kamakura’s bustling Komachi-dori Street. Delight in the serene tea ceremony while relishing an assortment of delicate wagashi (traditional sweets). The tea house’s tranquil atmosphere offers a moment of tranquility amidst the vibrant city life, making it a must-visit spot for those seeking a taste of authentic Japanese tea culture.
Travel Tips & Suggestions
- Plan your visit during spring or autumn for pleasant weather and picturesque cherry blossoms or fall foliage.
- Wear comfortable shoes as Kamakura’s attractions are best explored on foot.
- Consider renting a bicycle to easily navigate the city and discover hidden gems.
- Purchase a Kamakura Enoshima Pass for unlimited train and bus rides to major attractions.
- Try the local delicacies like Kamakura shirasu (whitebait) and warabimochi (bracken starch cake).
- Respect the cultural customs at temples and shrines by following appropriate dress codes and etiquette.
- Take advantage of the Enoden train line for a scenic ride along the coast and to explore neighboring Enoshima Island.
Conclusion – Best Things to Do in Kamakura
As we bid farewell to Kamakura, we leave with hearts full of awe and wonder. Exploring the best things to do in Kamakura has been an enchanting journey through time, culture, and nature. From tranquil temples to sun-kissed beaches, this coastal gem offers a delightful blend of ancient charm and modern allure.
Whether you savor the beauty of cherry blossoms in spring or immerse yourself in the serenity of Zen gardens, Kamakura’s unique essence will stay with you, beckoning you to return for more magical moments in this captivating city. Until we meet again, may your memories of Kamakura be filled with joy and inspiration.
FAQs – Best Things to Do in Kamakura
What are the best things to do in Kamakura?
Kamakura offers a plethora of incredible experiences! Don’t miss visiting the Great Buddha (Daibutsu), exploring Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, and wandering through Hase-dera Temple. Also, enjoy the views from Enoshima Island, stroll along Komachi-dori Street, and discover the historical Zeniarai Benten Shrine. Experience Zen meditation at Engaku-ji Temple and admire the bamboo groves of Hokoku-ji Temple.
When is the Best Time to Visit Kamakura?
Spring (March to April) for cherry blossoms and autumn (September to November) for vibrant foliage offer the most picturesque views. These seasons boast comfortable weather for exploring the city’s cultural gems and natural wonders.
How can I get to Kamakura?
Getting to Kamakura is easy! Take the JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo or Yokohama, or hop on the Enoshima Electric Railway (Enoden) for a scenic route. Buses and cars are also options for reaching this charming coastal city.
Where should I stay in Kamakura?
For a luxurious stay, Kamakura Prince Hotel offers stunning ocean views. If you’re on a budget, WeBase Kamakura provides a trendy hostel experience. For an authentic Japanese stay, consider Kamakura Guest House with its traditional tatami rooms.
What are some must-try local foods in Kamakura?
Indulge in Kamakura shirasu (whitebait) and warabimochi (bracken starch cake) for a taste of local flavors. Explore seafood delights at Enoshima Iwamoto-ro and savor Kamakura-style dishes at Kamakura Ganko.
Are there any travel tips for exploring Kamakura?
Wear comfortable shoes for walking, and consider renting a bicycle to conveniently tour the city. Respect cultural customs at temples and shrines, and purchase a Kamakura Enoshima Pass for easy transportation.
What makes Kamakura a unique travel destination?
Kamakura’s blend of ancient temples, stunning beaches, and rich history creates an enchanting atmosphere. The city’s serene ambiance and vibrant festivals offer a perfect escape from bustling city life. Embrace the local culture and immerse yourself in the essence of this captivating coastal gem.