Kamakura is a coastal city located about 40 km south from Tokyo. Because of it’s strategic position, the town was appointed by the Minamoto family as the political capital of medieval Japan. The beautiful mountains and ocean in combination with the relaxed atmosphere and many interesting sights, likes temples and shrines, make for a perfect day trip from Tokyo. Make the most out of your day trip to Kamakura with our one day itinerary of Kamakura, showing you the highlights of the Samurai city.
If you have been to “the Kyoto of the East” before, or want to move away from the the tourist crowds and want to see more hidden locations of Kamakura, please read this article Kamakura – off the beaten track
How to get to Kamakura from Tokyo
From Tokyo you have several options, both JR Yokosuka Line and the JR Shonan Shinjuku Line have a direction connection with Kamakura station. A one way trip takes about an hour and costs approximately ¥950, but if you have a JR rail pass, the transportation fee is included!
Getting around in Kamakura
Kamakura is a relatively small sized town and you can easily explore the centre on foot or – if you feel a little more adventurous – by (rental) bike. There are also buses and taxis in Kamakura to take you to the more isolated sights like Zeniarai Benten and Zuisenji.
We suggest you take the train from Tokyo around 8.30am so you will arrive in Kamakura before 10am. Instead of going to the city centre first, start with a visit to Hokokuji temple. From the station it is s 30 minute walk or 10 minute bus ride. From the bus terminal at the east exit of Kamakura station, take bus 23 or 24 or 36 and get off at Jyomyoji bus stop (costs ¥200).
This small Buddhist Zen temple located on the east side of Kamakura is famous for its bamboo forest and is known as the bamboo temple. It is definitely a good alternative if you don’t plan to go to the Arashiyama Bamboo forest in Kyoto. Follow the narrow pathway between the 2.000 bamboo trees that leads to a small to a small tea house and enjoy a nice cup of matcha at the Zen garden!
9am – 4pm
Admission fee ¥500 per adult
After your refreshing cup of matcha tea, head back to Komachi street and soak up the atmosphere of this nostalgic avenue. Here you can find many traditional shops for souvenirs, local food products and local produce. The street offers many options for lunch for every taste, next to the restaurants there are also lots of street vendors selling local delicatessen including kamakura sausages, chocolate eclairs and tarts, sakura mochi and fresh fish from the area.
If you want to immerse yourself in the local cuisine, book a cooking class and prepare your favourite local dish.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine
Right at the end of Komachi street, you will see Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine on your right, Kamakura’s most important shrine. In the 11th century the Minamoto family built the samurai shrine to thank the deities for victory in battle. From Kamakura’s waterfront, a long wide street leads through the entire city center, with multiple torii gates along the way.
The shrine is one of the most popular shrines for Hatsumodo – the first visit to a shrine in the new year – in the whole of Japan. About 2 million (!) people come here during the New Year’s holiday. Read more about Hatsumodo in our blog Hatsumode: Shrine and Temple Visit during New Year Holidays
After your visit to the shrine, your next visit will be to the Kotoku-in temple. From Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine to the temple, you can either walk or take the train. We recommend you go on foot, you will have some great views of Kamakura on the way.
Perhaps you haven’t heard of Kotoku-in before, but you probably have seen photos of the famous Big Buddha. The statue commonly known as Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha of Kamakura), a colossal copper image that was constructed from the middle of 13th century. Being 11.3 m high it is one of the largest Buddha statues in Japan – most likely also one of the heaviest at 121 tons.
To do tip: you can enter the inside of buddha statue for only ¥20.
7am – 6pm (Apr – Sep)
7am – 5.30pm (Oct – Mar)
Admission fee ¥200 per adult
From the Kotoku-in temple head down south for about 7 minutes and turn right, you will arrive at the second highlight of this part of Kamakura, the Hasedera temple.
The Hasedera temple is famous for its many flowers, especially the hydrangea. In the months June and July, when the hydrangea are is blossom the temple is especially popular. But to our opinion, the temple is worth a visit a year round with the stunning view of the pacific sea from the temple’s observatory.
The temple is located on a hill, thus many steps are involved when exploring the complex. The entrance itself is located down hill, but climbing your way to the top is totally worth it, we think so at least.
Try to spot the little jizo statues while you are visiting Hasedera. Ryo-en Jizo is a group of three little Jizo statues, that you can find in three different locations within the temple. These little guys will definitely make you smile!
Admission fee ¥300 per adult
Planning your trip to Kamakura
As we mentioned before, Kamakura is great to explore on foot and most locations are within walking distance (about 30 min) from each other. The hiking trails connecting the highlights to each other, offer great views of Kamakura. But if you don’t feel like it or want to spent most of your time visiting the sights, there are many other ways of transportation like trains, buses, bicycles and taxis.
We recommend you spend about an hour at each site, that will give you plenty of time. But to make most out of your visit a guided tour is a great option. A guide that explains the history of the city and the different locations will definitely add to your experience. There are many options and some even include food making or kimono wearing. For example
This one day itinerary you will show the highlights of Kamakura, but if you have more time we definitely recommend you to stay for the night. There are many other beautiful, quiet places, read our other post about Kamakura too!
Also, our tour will help you to find this Samurai city in more interesting way. We are happy to customise this tour for you, feel free to contact us.
Where to stay in Kamakura
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