Trip to Kamakura: temples & shrines, hiking track, sea and bamboo forest

If you want to have a break from bustling city of Tokyo, or any other place in Kanto I recommend to take a day-trip to Kamakura. It is a coastal city, 50 kilometers distant from Tokyo and it used to be a seat of the Shogunate and Regency during the eponymous Kamakura period (1185–1333). Kamakura city is not only famous as historical place but also a nice sight for visiting numerous shrines and temples. The icon of the city is Great Buddha in Kōtoku-in. Kamakura has also many event marks during the year, among many just few to mention:
Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival - February 15th-16th 2018
Kamakura Matsuri - 2nd to 3rd Sunday of April
Fireworks on the beach of Yuigahama – August 10th
Kamakura Takigi-Nō – October 8th and 9th
You can get inspired by my travel plan, however, there is so many remarkable places that you can choose to adapt it according to your wishes. I walked about 14 kilometers and made several stops. For the places that I paid an entrance fee for, I mention the price, opening hours and website.
I longed for a bit of nature, so I strolled from a shrine through hiking trail in the woods to see Daibutsu - the Great Buddha. Then I visited a temple on my way towards the sea (as a visitor from inland country, I am always keen on seeing the sea anytime I can) and before walking north I made a stop in yet another temple near the shore. Visiting 11th century Shinto shrine in the built in traditional Edo architectural style - Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū - was the icing on the cake.
 
Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine & Sasuke Inari Shrine
I took the west exit from Kamakura station where a Japanese tourist guide navigated me and gave me free English map. I decided to go visit a shrine dedicated to Ugakufu-jin, a kami of money washing where people literally come to wash their coins and even banknotes in flowing spring water inside a little cave. This ceremony first started with a story of Minamoto no Yoritomo to whom kami appeared in a dream. It is a nice example of Japanese syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism. Nearby you can find an Inari Shrine with a typical entrance of several vermilion-painted torii and loads of little figures of foxes.
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I walked through the hiking trail in the forest and could hear nothing but tweeting of birds and wind blowing through leaves. You can also choose quicker road leading directly to Kōtoku-in.
The Great Buddha (Daibutsu) in Kōtoku-in
The biggest tourist attraction is the monumental bronze statue of Amida Buddha which dates from 1252. The statue, its base and surrounding buildings were destroyed and rebuilt, either in storm in 1334, by tsunami in 1498 or during the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. There are also straw sandals in the statue’s size. You can also see the interior of the statue for only 20 yen. If you touch the Buddha from inside, you can feel the heat of sun.
 
Admission: 200 yen
Opening hours: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Hase-dera or Hase-kannon
This complex of Buddhist temple and pilgrimage routes originally belonged to the Tendai sect. Inside the Hase-dera, you can find a famous wooden statue of Kannon – the Goddess of Mercy. The temple sits on a small mountain which offers a spectacular view on the sea.
 
Admission: 300 yen
Opening hours: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
http://www.hasedera.jp/
 
Kōmyō-ji
After visiting Hase-dera, I walked along the coast. As it was quite chilly in January, there were just few surfers in the water and again – many tourists! On the east side of the shore, I continued my shrine/temple-hopping and went to Tenshōzan Renge-in Kōmyō-ji, the Buddhist temple of Jōdo sect. There is a nice area where you can walk without the shoes and enjoy view on a peaceful pond.

 
Hōkoku-ji and bamboo groove
Then I walked northwards to visit an old temple of the Rinzai. This place is famous for its bamboo forest annexed behind the main hall and is a nice spot for someone who has never seen bamboos before.
 
Admission: 200 yen (additional 500 yen for tea service)
Opening hours: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
houkokuji.or.jp
 
Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū
About 20 minutes walking from the bamboo groove, there is nice area surrounding Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū, a Shinto shrine established by Minamoto no Yoriyoshi in 1063. The complex includes a stone bridge Taiko-Bashi, a pond Genpei-ike, a peony garden, Main Shrine with Great Gate Romon. I was there few days after New Year’s Day and there was a lot of stands with Japanese food made at the place, which was very nice. On the other hand, I gave up on visiting the Main Shrine since there was a huge queue of Japanese prayers waiting to get there. You can also visit Kamakura Museum of National Treasures that is nearby. 
From the huge torii in front of the Shrine complex, as you cross the pedestrian crossing, the road in the middle of the street will lead to the east exit of Kamakura station.
Kamakura Museum of National Treasures
Admission: 400 yen
Opening hours: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp




Simon Happy