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Day Trip From Tokyo: The Ultimate Itinerary In Kamakura

Rachel
Updated Nov 10, 2017

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!

Top 3 activities to book in Kamakura

Map Location

How to travel between Tokyo and Kamakura

Route map

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

1. Engakuji Temple

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Source: Rakuten

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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

2. Kenchoji Temple

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Source: Wikimedia

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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

3. Recharge with some tasty Japanese sushi

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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.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

Walk towards Kamakura Station for the must-visit spots

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

4. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

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Source: K K

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)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

5. Romantic stroll along the beautiful Dankazura

#七里ヶ浜 #鎌倉 #shichirigahama #dankazura

A photo posted by Frank Hamano (@frank_hamano) on

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.

Dankazura

Duration: 10-minute walk

Access: outside Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

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

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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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

Continue the lovely journey to western Kamakura

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

7. The Great Buddha of Kamakura

Big budha statue

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)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

8. Hase-dera Temple

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Source: ひでわく

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)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

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

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

Bonus: Take a mesmerizing ride on the rattling Enoden train

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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!

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Kamakura and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Kamakura

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!

This article was originally published on Sep 26, 2016
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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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