Kamakura 鎌倉市, just an hour from Tokyo, is one of my favorite places to visit for a day trip. This town was the center of Japanese political life during the 12th and 13th century, and it still retains the charm of that era. Kamakura has it all – beautiful shrines and temples, natural beauty like mountains, seaside attractions, and good hiking trails. And the biggest plus point, it is full of cute cafe and souvenir shops.

Well, Kamakura has so much to offer which can’t be covered in just one post. So,  I will just be talking about five of my favorite things to do in Kamakura.

Hydrangeas in Hase-dera (長谷寺)

If you are in Tokyo during the rainy season, be sure not to miss out on viewing beautiful hydrangea flowers in Hasedera temple. Hasedera (長谷寺) is a temple of the Jodo sect, famous for its eleven-headed statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. It is Japan’s largest wooden boddhisattva, with a height of over nine meters. This temple is built on a slope and has a wooden terrace that offers amazing views of Kamakura. The temple entrance is at the bottom of the slope with a Japanese traditional garden, complete with small ponds. There is also a cave with dozens of Jizō statues dedicated to the Benzaiten – Goddess of Health and Beauty, the Goddess of Music and of many fearsome protectors of Buddha. You can check my post on Hasedera, here.

Hase-dera Temple is a well-known spot for viewing hydrangea during the rainy season. There is an observation trail at the temple site above, where you can view over 40 types and around 2500 hydrangea flowers. I recommend going there in June and July when hydrangea is in full bloom. You have to queue up to walk through a slope filled with hydrangea flowers. The line moves slowly through the trail, stopping, taking photos and just absorbing the beautiful scenery around. I think it is ample time to enjoy these beautiful flowers.

Beaches in Kamakura

Located just next to each other, Yuigahama 由比ヶ浜海岸 and Zaimokuza 材木座 are Kamakura’s two most popular beaches. They are really close to the train station and offer good facilities. These two beaches provide a lot of space for sunbathing, swimming and surfing. Beach huts, cafe, and rental shops are open during the season and provide visitors with shade, changing and shower rooms, food, and drinks. As a result, both get very crowded during the summer season. However, I really recommend going there in summer to get an experience of really short yet fun Japanese beach life.

Tokyo beaches

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Komachi Dori

Komachi Dori is a long stretch of street that starts at the red torii gate to the left of the east exit of JR Kamakura Station and ends at the entrance of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. Like other Japanese shopping streets near a temple or shrine, Komachi Dori is packed with shops and eateries give visitors an experience of Kamakura and Japanese traditional attractions. It has numerous shops offering local food, products, and Japanese souvenir. There are also several authentic shops selling kimonos, Japanese knives and even towels. To be honest, I can’t leave Kamakura without visiting this street. And every time I go there, I end up with loads of Japanese pouches, handkerchiefs and key rings. Not to forget, you can find an insane number of ice cream flavors there – ranging from lavender, sesame, and hydrangea!

Komachi dori

image via internet

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine 鶴岡八幡宮

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine 鶴岡八幡宮, located about a 5-minute walk from the Kamakura Station and is one of the symbolic landmarks of Kamakura. Just go through the red torii gate to your left when you leave Kamakura Station, follow the Komachi street and you will arrive at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. It is Kamakura’s grandest and most important Shinto shrine. It was built by Yoritomo Minamoto, the founder of Japan’s first shogunate, and enshrines the Hachiman kami, deities regarded as the protectors of the warrior class. The grounds are beautiful with many little gardens and ponds. There is even a thousand-year-old Ginko tree! But, my favorite spot has to be the Instagram famed wall made with empty sake barrels!

Bills Shichirigahama七里ヶ浜

Bills is situated just about a 5-minute walk from the Shichirigahama Station on the Enoden Line. 七ヶ浜町 Shichirigahama beach caters to people who are into surfing and windsurfing. Also, this beach is relatively empty compared to the two main beaches – Yuigahama and Zaimokuza.

Bills restaurant has a flagship establishment is in Sydney, Australia, and is known for its breakfast menu which is supposed to be the world’s best. Bills Shichirigahama is the first overseas branch of this famous eatery. Its second-floor seating provides a nice spot for people watching and admiring the beautiful scenery. Their Ricotta pancake cooked with fluffy meringue is my favorite, and as my friend declared, it is the best pancake in the world! On a late Monday afternoon, we had to wait for about 45 minutes to get a table. But if you don’t want to go to Kamakura just for pancakes, you can also go to Bills in Ginza, Harajuku or Odaiba.

Bills, 七ヶ浜町 Shichirigahama

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The great Buddha 鎌倉大仏 and Enoshima  江の島

When you talk about Kamakura, you need to mention Daibutsuden Kotoku-in, a home to Daibutsu (Great Buddha) 鎌倉大仏. I have written a post in detail about the Great Buddha which you can check here.

Another place worth visiting near Kamakura is Enoshima 江の島. It is situated on the sea’s edge and offers several onsens and pools with a view of Mt.Fuji. It is a holiday island with beaches, shrines, aquariums and even caves – so much to see and do! I haven’t been there yet, but it is on my bucket list.

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