Lower than two hours from the crowded aspect streets of Tokyo is Kamakura. A small city so placing, it’s been the setting for dozens of Japanese films, anime collection and even music movies.
As soon as the very actual battleground of Samurai and Ninja, Tokyoites and savvy vacationers flock to the seaside each weekend to flee the fast-paced metropolis life, devour contemporary seafood, and go to temples.
I used to be fortunate sufficient to land myself a volunteer place in a 200-year-old conventional Japanese home nestled within the family-friendly neighbourhood of Inamuragaski the place I started my explorations.
Whereas working at an Airbnb is hardly one thing to write down residence about, my break day was magical sufficient to encourage a full-length Ghibli movie.
One factor’s for certain—in case you go to Kamakura, you must end your days watching the solar disappear behind Mt. Fuji and stroll the seashore by moonlight to see the black volcanic sand glowing prefer it was fabricated from diamond mud.
Getting Round Kamakura
Having Google Maps put in and related is a should if you wish to plan practice routes and uncover the extra secluded shrines with out getting misplaced.
I recommend getting a vacationer sim card or resigning your self to piggybacking off the free (however annoyingly patchy) WiFi at comfort shops like FamilyMart.
Kamakura is a fast and handy practice journey from Tokyo that takes 2 hours at most.
As an alternative of scrolling aimlessly via your social media feed, look out the window as the town fades to the countryside and see in case you can spot the standard homes and rice paddies within the distance.
Why Go to Kamakura
Japanese practice fanatics flock to Kamakura simply to snap a pic with the historic Endoen Practice. The primary station opened in 1902, nicely over 100 years in the past and the old-school appeal nonetheless shines sturdy.
Packed to the brim on weekends, mornings, and evenings, it’s unlikely that you just’ll get a seat until you’re first in line on the Kamakura station.
The practice is a stately shade of deep inexperienced matched with plush seats coated in light purple velvet.
The Endoen hugs the shoreline, shifting via neighbourhoods and operating parallel to the principle street.
Predominant stops embody Hase, Inamuragasaki, and Enoshima.
The practice appears to be like lovely when it clatters via a pedestrian crossing and plenty of vacationers get off the practice at a smaller station simply to get a great crossing image— it’s such an iconic sight.
An anime has even featured a crossing of their opening tune.
Tip: The ticket costs can add up quick and are quite costly. I recommend shopping for a day go in case you are planning to make greater than three stops (together with your return journey).
I’ll be trustworthy, my first bicycle journey in Kamakura didn’t go nicely.
I wobbled like a drunk because of the skinny street tires and my French buddy laughed at my basic inexperience with far an excessive amount of gusto.
However after slightly refresher and a slight fall, I used to be glad I persevered on this considerably sweaty mode of transport.
Kamakura has loads of difficult hills, lovely panoramas and quaint streetside retailers, however the perfect cycle is alongside the shoreline reverse the railway line.
Proper subsequent to the deep blue ocean, you’ll have views of Mt. Fuji on clear days and the mesmerising sound of the seaside to accompany your ideas.
Waves crashing over rocks, seagulls and hawks cawing out within the sky, and the pressing mid-pitched “ding ding ding” of practice crossings will present you’ll all of the power you have to get from A to B.
Most lodging in Kamakura will supply rental bicycles to their visitors, or you possibly can decide one up on the bycicle store close to Kamakura Station.
Issues to do in Kamakura
There’s a lot to see in Kamakura that you must most likely resolve the place to not go straight away. Right here’s my private “in case you miss this, you didn’t go” record.
1. Kamakura Buying Avenue
Take the East exit at JR Kamakura station, you’ll instantly see a buzz of fascinating retailers promoting all the things from specialty meals to patterned hankies.
Proceed left in direction of the enormous purple torii gate, and you’ll be standing on the entrance of Komachi Dori Avenue—be ready to tug out your pockets.
All of it begins with a Ghibli store stuffed excessive with memorabilia (big Totoro plushie anybody?) and builds as much as chopsticks, jewelry, colored fabric, artwork, and road meals.
Numerous Kimono rental retailers are prepared and ready to decorate you up for a standard day trip.
Fearful about cultural appropriation, I requested loads of Japanese pals if foreigners carrying conventional Japanese garb was offensive, and each single particular person expressed happiness that vacationers have been collaborating of their tradition, so don’t maintain again!
Bear in mind that the picket sneakers (referred to as geta) will begin to damage your toes after a few hours!
When you’re actually fortunate, you may spot the elusive chihuahua man. Why he has so many tiny canines nobody will ever know.
2. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
This lovely shrine is about 20 minutes stroll from the procuring road, and thru a few huge torii gates.
The stone stairway main as much as the scarlet major shrine is straight away placing sufficient to warrant the stroll.
After climbing again down the steps, head left and do some high quality individuals watching at the perfect public Japanese lily pond I’ve ever seen.
In summer time/early autumn, you’ll discover youngsters and adults feeding gigantic koi and small grass turtles—named for his or her lime inexperienced spots—with nice enthusiasm.
In autumn and winter, the lilies and turtles disappear, however the koi stay as fats an hungry as ever.
three. Hase Dera Temple
In the future, two monks carved two intricate statues of the god of mercy—Kannon—out of a single, gigantic tree trunk.
They threw one statue into the ocean, sending with it prayers to carry success wherever it landed. Years later, the entire picket Kannon washed up on the shores close to Kannonyama mountain.
The Hase-Dera temple was in-built honour of the nice omen, and the statue of Kannon was enshrined and coated with a blinding gold leaf.
That is actually my favorite temple in Japan.
It’s acquired a spectacular view of Kamakura, one of the crucial awe-inducing statues I’ve ever seen, a small cave community devoted to ladies, 1000’s of Jizo statues, and over 2500 species of Hydrangea besides.
It’s at all times in bloom and at all times lovely. When you go to only one temple in Japan, go to this one.
four. Enoshima Island
On the tiny island of Enoshima, the shrines far outnumber the residents. On the bottommost degree, you’ll discover eating places and road meals stalls promoting all method of contemporary seafood.
Be sure you strive the pressed octopus cracker referred to as ‘tako-senbei,’ which works “squeeeee” when it’s pressed into form.
Every degree of the island is gorgeous in its personal proper, however the prime is actually astounding.
Named the Sea Candle, a construction sits on the highest level of the island, working as a lighthouse for boats, a viewpoint for vacationers, and a cellular phone tower for everybody.
From the highest, you possibly can catch an excellent view of Mt. Fuji and limitless views of the ocean and past.
When you’ve acquired time to spare, there may be an unbelievable onsen and spa on the island with each conventional cut up onsen baths and combined outside sizzling swimming pools that require a showering go well with.
The indoor onsen features a carbonated pool, so in case you’ve ever had the specified to soak in a fizzy drink, that is your likelihood.
Enjoyable Truth: If anybody’s a crusing fanatic like me, Enoshima can also be the placement of the crusing Olympics in 2020.
5. Inamuragaskai Park and Seaside
Though I feel Inamuragasaki Park is picturesque each second of daily even when it rains, it actually shines at sundown.
The park is true on the seashore and features a gigantic rocky overhang that lightly slopes into dramatic crashing waves. Photographers flock to this rock to catch a shot of Mt. Fuji framed by the setting solar.
It’s a well-known location in movies, the place heartfelt reconciliation and romantic confessions happen.
Each day I stayed in Kamakura, I headed all the way down to this seashore with ice cream, Japanese beer, or inexperienced tea in hand and watched the solar sink tragically beneath the waves.
For Photographers: That is the spot to go for the elusive ‘Diamond Fuji’ the place the setting solar touches the height making it the volcano seem like a diamond ring.
When you don’t get to those it gained’t be a practice smash, however I strongly suggest checking them out in case you are staying for greater than in the future.
6. Secret Retro Base
Pop open a sugary Ramune drink and play previous video games on traditional consoles and check out your hand at Japanese board video games.
The Japanese man who owns this retailer loves his store and lives a really fascinating but easy life—it’s value chatting to him over a recreation of Tremendous Mario and coaxing out his life story.
The shop is sort of the hidden gem, however you will get instructions from the proprietor right here.
7. Kotoku-in Temple – Kamakura Buddha
House to one of many greatest sitting Buddhas in Japan, the temple partitions and roof blew away throughout a strong storm, leaving the bronze Buddha exterior to climate the weather ever since.
7. Hokokuji Temple
Pop in to discover the small bamboo forest and a centre your thoughts with a pleasant inexperienced tea ceremony.
eight. Zenrai Benten Shrine
The place you wash your cash in a pure spring and hope for it to multiply into riches.
9. Browsing on Inamuragaski Seaside
When you’re good at browsing, head in direction of the seashore and lease a board. The native surfers are at all times completely happy to share a wave.
When to Go to Kamakura
Kamakura actually shines in summer time when pageant season is in full swing and the sound of cicadae fills the air.
Its a good time for swimming and browsing and also you merely should strive shaved ice or fruits topped with syrup (referred to as Kakigori in Japanese).
I visited in September (early autumn) and located the climate to be good for lazy seashore days.
Autumn is ideal for temples, as all of the leaves flip to sensible shades of purple and orange.
Winter generally brings snow, and it nice for comforting ramen dishes and onsen journey.
Mt. Fuji is seen on just a few days throughout late summer time and Autumn, however it turns into clearer in Winter and Spring months when humidity is at its lowest.
My month exploring Kamakura handed in a whimsical haze of happiness.
It’s the right praise to aband an antidote to a confused thoughts. In case you have any questions, be at liberty to pop me a message or depart a remark and I’ll get again to you.
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Claire is a journey and tech copywriter travelling the world and indulging in a devilishly enjoyable digital nomad life-style.
Get in contact with Claire by way of her web site Copy Island, stalk her on Instagram, and comply with her on Medium.
She’s in love with Japan and aspires to go to it as typically as her checking account will enable. She likes random emails and can reply to something with the phrase ‘kittens’ within the topic line.
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