Day Trip From Tokyo: The Ultimate Itinerary In Kamakura

Day Trip From Tokyo: The Ultimate Itinerary In Kamakura
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Kamakura, a city about one hour south of Tokyo, is steep in historical and nature landscapes. Once a political centre of medieval Japan, the city is now filled with numerous famous temples and shrines. Surrounded by mountains on the north, east and west of the city, Kamakura is also a hotspot for hikers. Add the beautiful beaches on the Sagami Bay into the picture, and Kamakura makes the perfect destination to escape from the hype and vibes of Tokyo. Even if you are time-strapped, a day trip to the Home of the Samurai from Tokyo will suffice too. Here’s how you can have the best of everything within a day in Kamakura!

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How to travel between Tokyo and Kamakura

Source: Pixabay

Kamakura is served by two railway companies, JR East and Enoden. The quickest way to the city is by JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo Station, priced at 920 JPY (8.90 USD) for a one-hour ride. Once you arrive in Kamakura, you can purchase the JR Kamakura-Enoshima Pass (700 JPY, 6.90 USD) that allows for unlimited use of JR, Enoden and Shonan Monorail lines within the city rail map shown above.

However, if you prefer to go slow, and enjoy the picturesque views of Enoshima Island and Shonan coast, there is a longer 90-minute route. Take the private Odakyu line from Shinjuku to Fujisawa, then change onto the rattling old Enoden tram line that terminates in Kamakura. This is also a cheaper way to enjoy Kamakura as it costs just 1,470 JPY (14.40 USD) for a round trip from Shinjuku to Kamakura and unlimited usage of the Enoden train. Train intervals are frequent at about 15 minutes for both options, so access to the ancient city is really quite convenient.

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Alight at Kita-Kamakura for the great Zen temples

With trains from Tokyo to Kamakura running so frequently, you should have no problem reaching the city by 10 in the morning. Alight one stop before Kamakura Station, at Kita-Kamakura Station. Visit the leading Zen temples here as you arrive in the tranquil district covered with gentle, forested hills.

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1. Engakuji Temple

Engakuji temple, Kamakura (3801185045)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Andrea Schaffer used under CC BY 2.0

Ranked as number two of the five great Zen temples in Kamakura, Engakuji Temple (円覚寺) was founded in 1282. It was built to pay respect to the fallen Japanese and Mongolian soldiers after the second invasion attempt by the Mongols. This is a must-visit particularly in autumn season, for the temple entrance with many maple trees turns into a photogenic spot with a sea of red and yellow leaves.

In this leading Zen temple just a stone’s throw away from Kita-Kamakura Station, two national treasures can be seen. The first is an enshrined Buddha tooth in the Shariden hall, and the other is the temple’s large bell (ogane). Sip a cup of fragrant tea with some Japanese sweets in the teahouse to enjoy the peaceful ambience.

Engakuji Temple (円覚寺)

Address: 409 Sannouchi, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa

Price: 300 JPY (2.90 USD)

Opening Hours: 8 am to 4.30 pm (until 4 pm from December to February)

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 1-minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station

Contact: +81 467-22-0478

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2. Kenchoji Temple

Kencho-ji 108599198 325f668cc8 o
Source: Photo by user stevecadman used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Kenchoji (建長寺) is the oldest temple in Kamakura founded in 1253. It is also the top ranking Zen temple out of the five great Zen temples in the city. Kenchoji has seen better times with seven Buddha halls and 49 sub-temples in the past. Nonetheless, it is still a remarkable temple complex now with several halls and sub-temples. After passing through the Sanmon main gate, come face to face with the temple bell (Bonsho), designated a national treasure, on your right. Immerse in the Zen atmosphere as you tour around the ancient temple.

Be mesmerised by the quiet simplicity in the small garden behind the main hall (Hojo), designed by Zen master Muso Kokushi. Walk along the path and stairway behind Hojo for about 20 minutes. Besides the Hansobo, a shrine to protect Kenchoji, there is a small observation deck here where you can soak in amazing views of Mount Fuji on a clear day.

Kenchoji (建長寺)

Address: Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture

Price: 300 JPY (2.90 USD)

Opening Hours: 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 15-20 minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station

Contact: +81 467-22-0981

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3. Recharge with some tasty Japanese sushi

inari sushi
Source: Shikako

Kamakura is a relatively small city so you can access the major sights on foot, and enjoy the lush greenery along the walk. Before you leave this calm and peaceful district for the other tourist sites, grab some “inari-sushi” (rice in a fried tofu pouch) or “inari-sushi rolled with seaweed” at “Mitsuizumi no Oinari-san”. These freshly made inari for take out will help hold your hunger pangs as you walk to the next destination.

Mitsuizumi no Oinari-san

Address: Right at JR Kita-Kamakura station

Price: 650 JPY (6.40 USD) each

Opening Hours: 10 am to 4 pm. Closed on Tuesday.

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Walk towards Kamakura Station for the must-visit spots

4. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

Source: Photo by user K K used under CC BY-ND 2.0

From Kenchoji Temple, take a leisurely walk of about 15 minutes to get to the most important shrine in Kamakura - Tsurugaoka Hachimangu (鶴岡八幡宮). Pass through multiple torii gates along the way to the shrine at the top of 62 steps. Admire the beauty of traditional Japanese architecture and nature here. Learn more about the legends of the samurai warriors and the impressive cultural assets at the Shrine Museum.

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine (鶴岡八幡宮)

Address: 2-1-31 Yukinoshita, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture

Price: free entry (200 JPY / 2 USD to the Shrine Museum)

Opening Hours: please refer to official website

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 10 to 15-minute walk from Kamakura station or Kenchoji Temple

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine (鶴岡八幡宮)

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5. Romantic stroll along the beautiful Dankazura

Following the great shrine tour, embark on a leisurely stroll along Dankazura, a pedestrian path in the center of Wakamiya Oji Street. The street used to be a sacred space to the public and was an essential part of the city’s religious life during the Kamakura shogunate period. Lined with several hundred cherry trees, Dankazura is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot in spring. Indeed, the breathtaking sight has won it a reputation of being one of the best 100 streets in Japan.


Duration: 10-minute walk

Access: outside Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

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6. Time for some retail and food therapy at Komachi-dori

day trip from tokyo: the ultimate itinerary in kamakura | time for some retail and food therapy at komachi-dori
Source: instagram

Komachi-dori is probably the busiest commercial street in Kamakura, with over 19 million people visiting each year. Discover many cool cafes, yummy restaurants and stylish shops along this “must-visit” street. It is a stark contrast from the morning’s temples and shrine tour as you check out its exciting oh-so-familiar urban landscape.

Snack on a myriad of Japanese sweets such as crepes, sweet potato purple soft serve, bean snacks, and more. Or tuck into a hearty meal of the local specialty - Shirasu-don (Whitebait rice bowl) in one of the many Japanese restaurants. You can also shop in the famous Ghibli store, Donguri Kyowakoku, conspicuously located right at the entrance of Komachi-dori for your favourite Totoro. With about 250 shops and restaurants here, you are definitely spoilt for choice of what you can do!

Komachi-dori (小町通り)

Address: Komachi, Kamakura-city, Kanagawa

Opening Hours: individual shop opening hours vary

Duration: around 2 to 3 hours required.

Access: in between JR Kamakura Station and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

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Continue the lovely journey to western Kamakura

7. The Great Buddha of Kamakura

The Great Buddha of Kamakura (Daibutsu)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ray in Manila used under CC BY 2.0

A trip to Kamakura is not complete if you miss the Great Buddha of Kamakura (鎌倉大仏, Kamakura Daibutsu). From Kamakura Station, take the green Enoden line to Hase Station just three stops away to see the iconic Buddha statue with your own eyes. This 13.35-meter (44 feet) tall bronze statue standing on the Kotokuin Temple grounds is the second tallest in Japan. Since 1945, it has been standing in the outdoors due to multiple destructions by typhoons and tidal waves of the temple building. It is a magnificent statue, in terms of size as well as a sculpture that has retained its appearance since it was cast. Pay a mere 20 JPY (0.20 USD) to enter the statue for an awe-inspiring tour. In addition, don’t forget your camera as this is an ideal place for picturesque shots of Daibutsu surrounded by lush greenery and colourful flowers.

The Great Buddha (鎌倉大仏)

Address: 4-2-28 Hase, Kamakura,Kanagawa Prefecture

Price: 200 JPY / 2 USD

Opening Hours: please refer to official website

Duration: around 40 minutes required.

Access: 7-minute walk from Hase station on the Enoden line

Contact: +81 467-22-0703

The Great Buddha (鎌倉大仏)

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8. Hase-dera Temple

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bernard Gagnon used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Walk back towards Hase Station and drop by the Hase-dera Temple (鎌倉長谷寺). This temple is well-known for its eleven-headed statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. At the temple entrance located at the base of a slope, a pretty garden with ponds welcomes you. Ascend to the main buildings of the temple on the terrace halfway up the slope. Take a short rest at the small restaurant here to enjoy some light Japanese refreshments, while soaking in stunning views of the coastal town.

Hase-dera Temple (鎌倉長谷寺)

Address: 3-11-2 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture

Price: 300 JPY (3 USD) per adult, 100 JPY (1 USD) per child

Opening Hours: please refer to official website

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 5-minute walk from The Great Buddha or Hase station

Contact: +81 467-22-6300

Hase-dera Temple (鎌倉長谷寺)

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9. End the wonderful day at Yuigahama Beach

Just a 10-minute walk south of Hase-dera Temple, you will arrive at Yuigahama Beach. It is one of the most popular beaches in Kamakura and attracts a lot of people living around Tokyo as it is the closest beach with good facilities to the capital city. Many visit Yuigahama Beach for its alluring sunset besides engaging in some sunbathing, swimming and surfing. By the time you are done with exploring the above sights, it should be just in time to catch the sunset. So end your day in the Home of the Samurai with a sweet sunset view!

Yuigahama beach (由比ヶ浜海岸)

Address: 4 Yuigahama, Kamakura-city, Kanagawa Prefecture

Price: free

Opening Hours: always open

Access: 5-minute walk from Yuigahama station or 10-minute walk from Hase-dera Temple

Map Location

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Bonus: Take a mesmerizing ride on the rattling Enoden train

Enoden 1000 series at Enoshima Station 01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Σ64 used under CC BY 4.0

If you want to make full use of your JR Kamakura-Enoshima Pass or Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass, get onto the nostalgic Enoden electric railway for a relaxing ride along the coastline through fascinating landscapes. There are 15 stations on the 10-kilometre (6.2 miles) track and it will take 30 minutes from Kamakura Station to Fujisawa Station. In fact, riding on this tiny rail line warrants an attraction on its own for your day in Kamakura. So add this in if you have purchased the unlimited free pass!

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Book a tour! (82 USD)

Kamakura kotokuin 02
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Σ64 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Make the most of your day in Kamakura by booking this nature and culture tour! This is a small group excursion that lasts about four and a half hours. Included in the tour rates are five food and drinks samplings as well as tour photos. The first part of the tour is an exciting food tasting of the best snacks and street foods on the lively shopping street of Komachi-dori. After filling yourself up, you will then tour around historical shrines and temples, while learning about Kamakura’s history. You can enjoy all of these against the beautiful backdrop of nature, perfect for photo-ops that are guaranteed insta-worthy! So take a break from the city and leave it to your guide for you to have the best time in Kamakura with this unique tour package!

Kamakura Nature & Culture Tour

Duration: 4.5 hours

Price: 82 USD

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Kamakura Nature & Culture Tour (82 USD)

Source: Photo by Flickr user Blondinrikard Frö... used under CC BY 2.0

Kamakura’s historical shrines and temples await you on this all-inclusive 4.5-hour tour! You’ll enjoy a sumptuous and healthy lunch at the Hasa-dera Temple where you’ll also meet the Goddess of Mercy, the eleven-headed Kannon. Your guide will also tour you through a lively shopping street where you’ll learn about its history while enjoying a Japanese sweet called dango. And of course, a trip to Kamakura will never be complete without visiting the Great Buddha! Did you know, you can even enter the colossal statue for a mere 20JPY (0.18USD)! Kamakura has a lot to offer, and if you have time to spare, make sure to ask our guide for recommendations to see a side of Japan that’s off the beaten track!

Kamakura Nature & Culture Tour

Duration: 4.5 hours

Price: 82 USD

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A memorable day in Kamakura with something for everyone

Because of the quick and frequent train intervals back to Tokyo, you can have more time to immerse yourself fully in the Home of the Samurai. Regardless of whether you are a history buff, religious buff, hiker or beach lover, there is something for everyone in Kamakura. Thus it is a no-brainer that a day trip to Kamakura from Tokyo will be a satisfying one for all in the group. Have a great trip!

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Rachel has forgotten when and exactly how she caught the travel bug. What she does remember is the triumphant feeling she enjoys when she sees the fascinating world out there with her own eyes. She...Read more

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