Tokyo is an amazing city but it can all seem a bit much sometimes. One of the most popular ways to escape is with a Kamakura day trip. Just an hour from the city, all you need to do is hop on a train and you’ll be on your way.
A coastal city, packed with history, Kamakura is most commonly associated with the Kamakura period of Japan. This fell between 1185 and 1333, during which it was the seat of the first shogunate and was Japan’s largest settlement, and as such, it has had an integral role in the history of Japan. There’s plenty of this history to be found simply by exploring the city on foot but there are also a few key spots not to be missed.
Find your spiritual side
It’s most famous for the Great Buddha or Daibutsu (大仏), a large bronze statue that sits in the grounds of Kotoku-in Temple. This is definitely the first stop to make on your Kamakura day trip. Having been one of the few survivors of a tsunami that hit the area in the 15th century and as the second tallest in Japan, it’s certainly a sight to behold and is the first stop for many visitors to the area. It is also worth noting that you can also go around the back and step inside this amazing statue. While it’s a bit surreal, it’s definitely worth trying out.
If you’re a bit overwhelmed by the busyness of the Kotoku-in Temple, as with many other places in Japan, there are plenty of other temples and shrines nearby to explore and almost too many to count. A personal favourite is the Hokokuji Temple in the hills of Kamakura which has its own small bamboo grove that is worth a visit. Why not enhance your spiritual journey further by wandering through the peaceful grove to the tea rooms where you can take in a traditional tea ceremony before exploring some of the shallow caves at the back of the temple.
See the sights of the sea
Having spent your morning relaxing and finding your spiritual side, there’s no better time to head to the sea. On the coast of Honshu, Kamakura has a bridge linking to Enoshima Island. With many attractions, ranging from shrines to observation towers to an aquarium, it’s almost worth a day trip in itself. One of the best reasons to head to the island is to enjoy the sea and on a clear day, a view of Mt. Fuji.
Alternatively, if you would like something a bit more invigorating, then Kamakura is a great place to surf. Yes, you read that correctly. Known to some as the surf capital of Japan, you have to pick the right time of year, but it’s a great way to end a day of exploration and history. There are plenty of places to rent gear so you don’t need to worry about having your own kit. There’s no better way to clear the mind than getting lost in the waves. The beaches are just as nice and taking a stroll along the seafront before heading to one of the surf bars is a great way to end the day.
This is just a taste of how you could spend your Kamakura day trip, there are a lot of other sites to see. With beautiful cedar forests to hike through and more historical sites along the way such as tombs, temples and shrines. One of the trails is a great way to spend an autumn day trip. There are also some amazing local matsuri throughout the year that are worth checking out, keep an eye on your calendar for dates each.
Full of history, food and surf, Kamakura is the perfect escape from the bright lights and bustling nights of Tokyo. So why not take a day trip and see what you discover.
Better yet, explore Kamakura on one of our Japan study trips. Check them out!
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If you’re contemplating a short trip to Japan, but you’re worried about the language barrier, check out our online beginner Japanese crash course. This two-week course teaches you the basics of the language and useful phrases to help you get by on your visit. For more information and to sign up, visit our website.