Kanagawa Prefecture is located in the Kanto Region just south of Tokyo. Its capital is Yokohama and the prefecture has some very popular tourist destinations in Japan, including Hakone and Kamakura. But Kanagawa offers more unique and interesting places to visit. Being closely located to Tokyo, the prefecture offers some great spots for a day trip or a weekend getaway. Here are our recommended best things to do in Kanagawa Prefecture.
1. Visit Yokohama
Yokohama is the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture and the second largest city in Japan after Tokyo with a population of over three million. The most visited places in Yokohama include Minato Mirai 21, China Town, Sankeien Garden, Zoorasia, Cup Noodle Museums, Ramen Museum, and Yamashita Park.
Minato Mirai 21 is a seaside urban area with several skyscrapers, shopping centers, hotels, an amusement park, a relaxation facility with hot spring baths, and museums. Cup Noodle Museum, which features exhibitions about instant noodles and workshops to make your own instant noodles, is located in this area. To get to Minatomirai Station, take Toyoko Line Limited Express from Shibuya Station in Tokyo which is directly connected to MinatoMirai Line, and get off at Minato Mirai Station (about 30 minutes).
Chinatown in Yokohama is one of the biggest Chinatowns in the world with hundreds of thousands of restaurants and food shops. Walk 5 to 10 minutes from Chinatown and you will find Yamashita Park which is a popular place to relax and take a walk while enjoying the view of Yokohama’s waterfront. To get to Chinatown, take the Limited Express train from Shibuya station and get off at Motomachi Chukagai Station (about 35 min).
Sankeien Garden is a large traditional Japanese garden with a pond, creek, and walking trails. Some of the historical buildings in the Sankeien Garden were transported from Kyoto because Hara Sankei, who was the owner of the garden, was fond of antique art pieces and architectures. To get to the Sankeien Garden, take bus #8 or 148 to Sankeien-Iriguchi from Yokohama Station East Exit or Sakuragicho Station.
Zoorasia is one of the largest and best kept zoos in Japan which is designed to recreate the animals’ natural habitat. The zoo consists of 8 areas, and there are also some places where you can interact with animals. To get to the Zoorasia, take a bus bound for Yokohama Dobutsuen from Kirigamine Station or Mitsukyo Station on Sotetsu Line, or Nakayama Station on JR Yokohama Line.
2. Explore Kamakura
Within 1 hour from Tokyo, you can arrive at the old Shogunate capital of Japan with many shrines and temples including Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Hokokuji Temple, Kotokuin Temple, and Hase Temple.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is a 10 to 15 minute walk from Kamakura Station East Exit. Founded in 1063, this is the most visited and important Shinto shrine in Kamakura. Every year, more than 2 million people visit here for the first shrine visit of the new year.
Hokokuji Temple is famous for its spectacular bamboo garden and a resting place where you can enjoy Matcha green tea and a sweet Japanese snack. To Hokokuji Temple from Kamakura station, it takes 40 minutes on foot, 7 minutes by taxi or 10 minutes by bus. If you want to take a bus, take a bus number 鎌23, 鎌24, or 鎌36, and get off at Jomyoji bus stop.
Kotokuin Temple is known for the Great Buddha, which is a symbol of Kamakura City. The Great Buddha in Kotokuin Temple was constructed in 1252, and is 11.31 meters (13.35 meters including the base) in height and about 121 tons in weight. Close to the Kotokuin Temple stands Hase Temple. Hase Temple is famous for its garden full of seasonal flowers all year round and the biggest Kannon statues in Japan. To get to Kotokuin Temple and Hase Temple, take a local train from Kamakura station and get off at Hase station.
3. Relax in Hakone
Hakone is a popular day trip or weekend destination for people from Tokyo. Hakone is a famous onsen (hot spring) city with a number of ryokan (traditional inn). The city also offers many tourist attractions including an active volcanic valley, sightseeing cruise on a lake, historic shrine, and interesting museums. In order to get to Hakone Yumoto Station from Tokyo Station, take JR Tokaido Shinkansen to Odawara Station (about 30 minutes), then take Hakone Tozan Railway to Hakone Yumoto Station (about 15 minutes).
Owakudani is an active volcanic area created during the eruption of Mount Hakone about 3,000 years ago. You can walk along the trail into the volcanic zone with numerous steam vents and bubbling pools. To get to Owakudani, take Hakone Ropeway from Sounzan Station, which offers magnificent views of Hakone, Owakudani, and surrounding areas with the elevation of more than 1,000 meters.
Get off the Hakone Ropeway at Togendai Station, and you can see Lake Ashinoko in front of you. Enjoy a sightseeing cruise on the lake with a view of nearby mountains and Mt. Fuji. You can also see the Torii gate of Hakone shrine standing in the edge of the lake.
Hakone Shrine, built in 757, is popular as a place full of spiritual energy. One of its torii gates stands in Lake Ashinoko, which is a very popular photo spot for many tourists.
4. See Odawara
Located in the southwest of Kanagawa Prefecture, Odawara is a major transportation hub and the gateway to the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. To get to Odawara, take the Tokaido Shinkansen (about 30 min) or JR Tokaido Line (about 1.5 hrs).
Odawara is best known for the Odawara Castle which was originally built in the mid-15th century. In 1703 it was destroyed by an earthquake but rebuilt quickly. Recently, the main castle tower was restored and reopened in 2016. Now the main castle tower features modern exhibition areas and a theater where you can learn about the history of the castle and Odawara. From the top of the tower, you can enjoy views of Odawara City and the Sagami Bay.
Odawara Castle is also famous for seasonal flowers such as cherry and plum blossoms, azalea, wisteria, iris, hydrangea and lotus. In addition, you can find the Jinja Museum, Samurai Museum, and little playgrounds for little children in the castle grounds. Odawara Castle is a 10 to 15 minute walk from Odawara Station.
5. Adventure in Sarushima
Located just two kilometers off the coast of Yokosuka, Sarushima, or Monkey Island, is the only inhabited natural island in Tokyo Bay. The island used to serve as a main military fort to protect Yokosuka and the Tokyo Bay, and still today there are many brick forts, tunnels and remains of batteries on the island. You can learn about the island and its history by visiting the small museum at the port.
The island offers beautiful sandy beaches where you can enjoy swimming and barbecue during summer. You can rent barbecue sets and parasols at the beaches on the island but you have to bring your own food to grill.
Sarushima also offers several spots for stunning views of the sea and Yokosuka City.
To get to Sarushima, catch a ferry from Mikasa Park which is a 15 minute walk from Yokosuka Chuo Station on Keihin Keikyu Line.
6. Visit Yokosuka
Yokosuka is a port city in Kanagawa Prefecture. The city has played a major role in Japan’s marine history and now hosts a large naval base for both the Japanese and American fleets.
At Mikasa Park located by the ocean, you will find Memorial Ship Mikasa, a battle ship that was used in the 1905 Russo-Japanese War. Now it is a museum exhibiting Japanese International maritime history.
Dobuita Street is a place where you will find a mixture of Japanese and American culture. Many shops sell vintage and military style clothes, and restaurants and cafes offer local foods such as Yokosuka Navy Burgers and Yokosuka Navy Curry.
You can also experience a 45 minute cruise on the Yokosuka Naval Port Cruise around the Japanese and American Naval bases. You will see every kind of ship from submarines to support craft to massive aircraft carriers.
To get to Yokosuka Chuo Station, take Keihin Keikyu Line from Shinagawa station in Tokyo (about 45 min).
Where to stay in Kanagawa
Gora Kadan – Close to some museums and park, terrific facilities and beautiful architecture featuring mountain views
Yoshimatsu – Surrounded by bamboo trees, outstanding Ryokan with hot spring bathes, Kyoto style set meals are served
Yokohama Royal Park Hotel – Located above the 52nd floor of Yokohama Landmark Tower, all rooms offer the stunning view of the city and port
PROSTYLE Ryokan Yokohama Bashamichi – Good mix of Japanese and western style in 19th century fashion, located very close to the main attractions
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What did you think about Kanagawa Prefecture? All of the major tourist attractions are accessible by public transportation so that you can easily visit them. Hope you have a lot of fun in Kanagawa.
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