If Tokyo is known as a modern capital with Disneyland and Disneysea or Osaka is well-known for its castles or Universal Studio, Kamakura – a city of Kanagawa Prefecture, is well-known for its temples, pagodas, and beaches. Just more than 50 km away from Tokyo, Kamakura is a tourist attractions that you should not miss during your stay in Tokyo. When you come to this city, you can enjoy the ancient beauty with many historical sites and delicious foods. Let’s take a look at the specialties in this city!
1. Things to do
- Kōtokuin Temple
As I mentioned before, Kamakura is famous for its temples and pagodas. Therefore, many tourists visit this city in order to have an opportunity to visit these temples. One of the most popular temples is Kōtokuin Temple. This temple has a bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which is called Kamakura Daibutsu (鎌倉大仏). With a height of approximately 11.4 meters and a weight of around 121 tons, it is the second tallest Buddha statue in Japan (the tallest one is in Todaiji Temple in Nara). It was built in 1252 inside the temple, however, due to many natural disasters in the 14th and 15th centuries, the temple was destroyed and this statue is currently standing outside.
*How to get to the temple
– From Hase Station: 10 minutes walking
– From Kamakura Station: 13 minutes by bus
– Opening hours: 08:00 – 17:30
– Entrance fee: 200 yen
- Kencho-ji Temple
Founded by Hojo Tokiyori – a Japanese military dictator in 1253, the Kencho Era, Kencho-ji helds the highest rank among the Zen Temples in Kamakura. When you visit Kencho-ji, you will be able to see many temples buildings as well as sub-temples. Starting at Sanmon – the main gate which was rebuilt in 1775 and known as a national and cultural treasure, you can see Bonsho (Bell Temple), Butsuden (Buddha Hall), Hatto (Dharma Hall), Hojo – the main hall of Kencho-ji, and many other halls. Behind the main hall of Kencho-ji, there is a beautiful Zen Garden – a place that you should not miss, designed by Muso Kokushi – a Zen Master.
*How to get to the temple
– From JR Kita-Kamakura Station: 15 minutes walking
– From Kamakura Station: 10 minutes by bus
– Opening hours: 08:30 – 16:30
– Entrance Fee: 500 yen
- Enoshima Island
Enoshima Island is a small island in the neighboring area of Kamakura. It is possible to take a one-day trip to visit both Kamakura and Enoshima Island. There is a sloping path that leads to many tourist attractions in Enoshima Island like Enoshima-jinja Shrine, Iwaya Caves, Enoshima Samuel Cocking Garden, Enoshima Sea Candle and many other beautiful attractions.
Enoshima Sea Candle is one of the attractions that attract most tourists in this area. Tourists can easily go up by taking the elevator. There is the observation deck of the lighthouse where you can see the whole beautiful scenery below from the height of 60 meters. On clear days, you may even see the Fuji Mount.
In addition, Enoshima Aquarium is also a place that is well worth visiting both adults and children. When going to Enoshima Aquarium, you will get a chance to see a variety of exhibitions like Jellyfish Fantasy Hall, Sagami Bay Zone, Pacific Ocean, Sea Turtle Beach, etc. Moreover, there are touch pools where you can touch many creatures living on the Enoshima beaches directly. For more information about the aquarium, please click here.
In summer, there are a large number of tourists visiting Kamakura in order to enjoy the lively atmosphere at the beaches. There are many beaches in Kamakura like Shichirigahama Beach, Zushi Beach, Morito Beach, Yuigahama Beach, etc. However, not all of them allow you to swim (e.g: Shichirigahama Beach). If you want to swim, I recommend you to go to Katase Higashihama and Koshigoe Beach, Katase Nishihama Beach or Yuigahama Beach. For other beaches, instead of swimming, you can surf or sit on the coast and enjoy the fresh air.
When mentioning about Kamakura food, it is impossible to not mention Shirasu. Shirasu is a small white fish which is the juvenile of sardines, herring and sand lances. People often eat Shirasu-don – a bowl of rice with raw, boiled or fried Shirasu placed on the top. You can try Wasai Yakura Restaurant which is the popular restaurant serving Shirasu-don.
Because Kamakura has many beaches, it is easy to understand that you can enjoy the best taste of fresh seafood here. You can try in local food booths. They will serve many different types of seafood like scallop, squid, or clams. You definitely should try it!
- Ice cream
Japan is usually famous for matcha (green tea) and most of drinks and desserts have matcha flavour. So does ice cream. However, when you go to Kamakura City, I strongly recommend you to try Coffee flavoured ice cream. This flavour is not too sweet, the taste of coffee is rich and delicious, and the cone is crispy, all of them will make you addicted to this ice cream.
- Tako Senbei
Tako Senbei is Octopus Cracker. Unlike other normal crackers, octopus in Tako Senbei in this area is the real and fresh one. What surprising here is that Tako Senbei is a super thin cracker, but they are still able to have the actual octopus in senbei. When you eat, you can feel the fresh and chewy taste of grilled octopus.
Here are some useful information about what to do and what to eat when you travel to Kamakura. Enjoy your trip!