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A Guide to Spending an Afternoon in Kamakura, Japan

Tokyo is an incredible city that can easily be any traveller’s entire itinerary. However, if you can bring yourself to escape the city for even a day, Kamakura is the place to go. Only an hour train ride south of Tokyo, Kamakura is a change of scenery from the fast pace modern Japan, back in time to feudal society. Keep reading for an EXTRA BONUS- a Kamakura Tourist Map AND video highlights!

History

Kamakura once held a very important role in Japanese history. After the rise of Yoritomo Minamoto, Japan’s first shogun, Kamakura became Japan’s political capital. For over a century Japan’s new military government ruled from Kamakura until its eventual decline in the 14th century after the defeat of the Hōjō regents. Today, Kamakura is a small beach town filled with many historical sights, Buddhist temples, and shrines, making it often referred as the Kyoto of the east.

Top 3 Kamakura Attractions

Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha)

The great Buddha statue (Kamakura Daibutsu) found in the Kōtoku-in Temple is Japan’s second largest bronze Buddha statue. The 13.35 meter tall Amida Buddha was created in 1252 and rebuilt twice after being destroyed in the 14th and 15th century both by natural disasters. Kamakura Daibutsu is a must see attraction and its massive and inspiring statue can only truly be appreciated when seeing it up close in person.

Transportation: Street Car vs. Hiking

There are a couple ways of getting to Kamakura Daibutsu depending on your schedule. If you are in a hurry trying to see everything in one day, you can take the local street car transit. After departing from the JR Kamakura station, you can cross the street to Kamakura’s local transit station. From there take the street car three stops to Hase Station. After exiting, the Daibutsu is a 5-10 minute walk.

If you’re up for taking in scenery or want a challenge you can take the hiking trail, which is what we did. It’s about a 3 mile hike through the hills and can be a little difficult, but totally worth the trek. You will follow a trail through lush green forests and quiet residential neighborhoods finding small shrines along the way. Eventually you will reach a peak that offers a gorgeous view of the city before descending back down and arriving at the giant Daibutsu.

Hours and Fees:

Kōtoku-in Temple Hours- 8:00 to 17:30/5:30 pm; No closed days

200 yen (~$2USD)

Diabutsu Statue- 8:00 to 16:30/4:30pm; No closed days

20 yen (~$0.17)

Tsurugaoka Hachimangū

Kamakura’s most important shrine, Tsurugaoka Hachimangū, was founded in 1063 by the Minamoto family and later moved to its present site after the establishment of the Minamoto shogunate. The shrine is dedicated to honoring the Minomoto family as well as Hachimon, their patron god. When walking up to the shrine, you are greeted by the amazing structure peering down at you from across a long path way.

Transportation: Walking

Tsurugaoka Hachimangū is easily accessible when exiting the JR Kamakura train station. There are two routes to take, the first is the Dankazura walking path. The next option is walking Komachi-dori, a busy and exciting street full of small shops and restaurants. Both routes are about a 10-15 minute walk.

Hours and Fees:

FREE to walk around the grounds; Open 5:00 to 21:00/9:00pm

200 yen for the Shrine Museum (~$2)

Kamakura Hiking Trails

Hiking trails are the best way to see Kamakura’s many features. Kamakura is one of those special cities that is surrounded by sparkling beaches and lush green forested hills, offering you the best of both worlds. As a result, there are many hiking trails to take in the beauty of the historic city. While hiking, you’ll be able to peek through the foliage and see distant cities or the never ending coastline. Since there are many trails, depending on how much time you have, pick 1 or 2 routes to explore. The best time to hike would be on a dry day because they can be steep and slippery. Wear comfortable clothes and a good pair of shoes!

Notable tips

  • You can use the JR pass to get to Kamakura but the pass does NOT work for the local train within the city.
  • If you’re tight on time, you can purchase a discounted bus pass to see all the popular attractions. For adults it’s 570 yen (~$5). The tickets also include discounts to some shrines, temples, and shops. You can purchase the pass at the information centers. 
  • BONUS: Pick up a tourist map at a Tourist Center or download the map here!

Watch our video experience! 

 

Have fun in Kamakura! Let us know in the comments if you’re planning on going and would like additional tips or if you would like to share your experiences!

Check out our Nara Photo Diary for more Japan exploration!

See you on the road,

Jareena and Ari

 

Gear we use:

GoPro HERO4 BLACK

GoPro Chest Harness

GoPro 3-Way Grip, Arm, Tripod (GoPro Official Mount)

Rode VMPR VideoMic Pro R with Rycote Lyre Shockmount

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Digital SLR with 18-55mm STM Lens

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

Wasabi Power Battery for Canon LP-E12

JOBY GorillaPod SLR Zoom. Flexible Tripod with Ballhead Bundle for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras Up To 3kg. (6.6lbs).

Camera Case Evecase Digital SLR / DSLR Professional Camera Shoulder Holster Bag For Compact system, Hybrid, Mirrorless, Micro 4/3 and High Zoom Camera – Gray

Disclaimer: The Barefoot Backpackers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliate sites.

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27 Comments

  • Reply
    Allyson
    January 16, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    This is awesome! That hike looks amazing too! Loved the video 😍

  • Reply
    Bryan Carey
    January 16, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    I see there is much to do in this lesser- known Japanese city. I have seen pics of that Buddha statue before, but never knew it was here. And there is much more going on as well- great advice for when I eventually make my way to the East.

  • Reply
    Viveena
    January 16, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    Wow that’s a lot of walking . I like your concise post about the place and the lovely video in the end is a good touch .

  • Reply
    julipal2
    January 16, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    I have never even thought of visiting there but with your tips and recommendations I would love to try!

  • Reply
    Monica Vaklinova
    January 16, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    This place looks fascinating! I am putting it on my bucket list for sure! Your pictures are so amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this great post!

  • Reply
    Kaitlyn
    January 16, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    Everything looks so beautiful! Definitely deserves a spot on my travel bucket list. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    La Shell
    January 17, 2018 at 1:11 am

    This place looks absolutely beautiful. I will be visiting Japan next year for the first time but will be going to Kyoto and Tokyo. I can’t wait to visit a couple temples and eat the food!

    • Reply
      thebfbackpackers
      January 17, 2018 at 4:39 am

      This location is just an hour train ride from Tokyo. It’s an easy day trip, if you’d like to visit. Kyoto is my favorite city in the world as well. You will have fun!!

  • Reply
    Bubu Backpacks
    January 19, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    Wow that sounds like an awesome afternoon! I’ll have to add this place to my list for sure, if I ever make it to Japan.

  • Reply
    danncastillo
    January 19, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks for all the tips! Japan is so high on my list! I would love to see the giant Buddah statue and the attraction pass seems very practical!

    • Reply
      thebfbackpackers
      January 19, 2018 at 10:11 pm

      Japan is my favorite country. There is so much to do and see, it’s insane! The pass is definitely a great option if you plan on spending a full day there!

  • Reply
    TheRebeccaMoore
    January 20, 2018 at 1:10 am

    Wow. I am adding this to my list. What a remarkably beautiful place.

  • Reply
    Kat
    January 20, 2018 at 2:40 am

    Hey I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award for new and upcoming blogs after being nominated myself! Follow the link and continue the chain! http://califfcreations.com/2018/01/liebster-award/

    • Reply
      thebfbackpackers
      January 20, 2018 at 2:45 am

      THANK YOU CALIFF CREATIONS! You’re amazing! I’m honored 🙂 I will work on this ASAP and keep this going.

  • Reply
    Kristin In Motion
    January 23, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    That’s awesome that you provided options because sometimes treks are very daunting depending on how long you are into your trip already!

  • Reply
    Poeksel
    February 1, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    I have nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award
    https://lovingthejourney.net/2018/02/01/sunshine-blogger-award-yay/

    • Reply
      thebfbackpackers
      February 1, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      Thank you so much for the nomination! That’s awesome!

  • Reply
    Ryan
    February 16, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    This looks like such a great day trip! Japan’s history is so cool, that giant Buddha looks super cool! The hiking here looks amazing too… Thanks so much for sharing this!

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