Kamakura Travel Guide

http://www.city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp/

Being just fifty minutes from downtown Tokyo, Kamakura is the closest day trip and incidentally the most noteworthy for those in Tokyo. If one had to choose between Nikko, Hakone and Kamakura the choice would clearly be Kamakura.

Kamakura is in fact so packed with sights to see that if one was just on foot it would take a few days. In light of this fact people often rent bicycles to enable them to be more mobile.

It is not surprising that this town on the shore should be one of the top tourist attractions in all of Japan, for here was the center of Japan from 1192 to 1333, during the Kamakura Period, where Japan was ruled from this very city. And as you might assume the area has as superfluity of temples, shrines, trails interspersed with a few museums, galleries and if that wasn’t enough Kamakura has some of Japan’s most famous beaches: Zaimokuza Beach and Yuigahama Beach.

Kamakura Restaurants & Food [view all]
Experience Local Dinning

Hato Sabure

Toshimaya’s not only got your souvenir hookup at has Kamakura’s signature ‘dove cookie’. While probably over-rated, the ‘hato sabure’ (dove cookie) has become one of the symbols of Kamakura and something every one eats when they visit. It is simply a butter/sugar cookie in the shape of a dove. They cost around 90 yen.

Toshimaya
Komachi-dori | Kamakura Town, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
+81 467-25-0505

Murasakimono Aisu Kurimu (Purple Sweet Potato Ice Cream)

Another local snack is purple sweet potato ice cream, don’t worry! As strange as it sounds we swear it is delicious. As with Senei and Hato Sabure you can find the purple ice cream at any snack shop in Kamakura. We recommend ‘Imo no Kichikan’ who are particularly famous for their potato ice cream. The ice cream is soft served and will cost you about 300 yen.

Imo no Kichikan
+81 467-25-6038

Senbei

Possibly the most well known of all snacks in Kamakura and certainly the most stereotypical, these rice crackers are baked fresh daily (and sometimes right in front of you). Flavors vary from savory to sweet, some are served with a sheet of nori (seaweed).

Senbei are rather delicate in their taste and to some, may seem to be lacking a certain punch. That being said we challenge the adventurous traveler to purchase to plain senbei with no spice (preferably a sweet senbei), and then purchase a soft served purple sweet potato ice cream and make a sandhich. You could even try the Hato Sabure for that mater. Either way the combination of these two local favorites will be sure to please and probably turn some heads.

Konichi tonkatsu

Kamakura’s Konichi Tonkatsu has been serving up fried pork for over fifty years. This endurance has earned it a reputation for some of the best katsu (fried pork) in Eastern Japan. The meat is very tender and is described by some customers to ‘melt in your mouth’, due to its popularity and high demand there is usually a wait ahead of you.
1-6-12 Komachi, Kamakura-shi
0467-22-2025

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http://r.tabelog.com/kanagawa/A1404/A140402/14002406/

Usagi

If you want the 100% authentic eating experience while in Kamakura, then you’ll need to check out ‘Usagi’ and when you arrive make sure you order the deep fried pumpkin (if in season), as well as the specialty dish: “Usagi Salad”, which consists of slices of chicken and omelette over chopped apples and assorted local veggies.

Monte Building 1F, 2-12-37 Komachi, Kamakura-shi
0467-23-6311

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Hanabi Ramen

The name literally means Fireworks Ramen, and with a name like that you can’t help but anticipate the sensational time you’ll soon be having. The shouyuu ramen is recommended (soy sauce). Expect to pay 780 yen for your bowl of ramen, which is pretty standard for a bowl of ramen, but you’ll be glad you did. They also offer ‘tsukeme’ ramen which is ramen noodles which you dip in a sauce.

1-2-5 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0016, Japan

+81 467-23-9005

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Kamakura Sightseeing & Attractions [view all]
Our top picks of things to see and do

Engaku-ji Temple

Built in the year 1282 the Engaku-ji Temple is one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kamakura. The Sanmon Gate to the Temple is said to be able to free an individual from obsessions and therefore bring about enlightenment, while this remains to be seen why not give it a try? The most you have to loose is 300 yen.

Sightseeing time: 60 minutes
Admission: 300 yen

Kencho-ji Temple

Shortly before the Engaku-ji the Kencho-ji Temple was erected in 1253. Its claim to fame is the fact that it is the first Zen Dojo built in all of Japan. The temple has a rather large gate, which towers over at over 30 meters.

Since you’re at the heart of Zen Buddhism why not experience how they eat? Be a guest and enjoy a standard Buddhist lunch. (vegetarian)

Sightseeing time: 60 minutes
Admission: 300 yen

Wakamiya-oji Street

The main artery of Kamakura, this street has the majority of your shopping and restaurants on it. It starts behind Kamakura station (at the Hachiman-gu Shrine) and goes all the way to the beach.

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine

The original center of Kamakura, built by the shogun himself Minamoto Yoritomo nine hundred years ago. From the top floor you have a panoramic view of Kamakura, where you can look down on the city just as the shogun did 900 years before you.

Continue your fun and education at the Kamakura Kokuhokan Museum where you can look back at the Kamakura Period like a window into the past.

Sightseeing time: approx. 60 minutes
Admission: 300 yen (Kamakura Museum)

Komachi-dori Street

A section of the Wakamiya-oji, Komachi-dori (street) is crammed with souvenir shops, restaurants, craft shops, everything you’ll want to buy and eat you’ll find here. For further edification into the history and culture of Kamakura, you’ll also find the Kichoan Museum on Komachi street.

Daibutsu at the Kotokuin Temple

At last we’ve come to what you’ve all been waiting for, the pride of Kamakura: Daibutsu (Great Buddha). The 120 ton, 13 meter tall Buddha made its debut in 1252. It is without a doubt the most photographed feature in the city.

During spring time the statue’s neighboring cherry blossoms bloom creating a most magnificent image.

If it had not been for a tsunami 500 years ago this Buddha would be inside a temple, however the temple was completely destroyed and washed away, but it could not wash away or destroy this steadfast statue.

Sightseeing time: 40 minutes
Admission: 200 yen

Hase-dera Temple

Take trip in a time machine and check out the Hesa-dera Temple. You’ll be going back 1300 years... to the year 736. One of Japan’s oldest temples, its needless to say the Hase-dera pulls in a lot of tourists. The temple is near the sea and offers a fantastic view of the coast and ocean.

Sightseeing time: 60 minutes
Admission: 300 yen

Yuigahama Beach

Weather permitting you can enjoy a delightful stroll (preferably in the warmer months) along the yuigahama beach. And if the weather is even better you’ll be able to spot Mt. Fuji off in the distance.

Shopping

Being a tourist town you won’t be able to walk a block without running into a tourist shop. Here is where you can find both the kitsch and the traditional intermingled, from hand carved kokeshi dolls to neon colored jellie Buddhas. You will find the highest concentration of said stores near the train stations: Kita Kamakura, Kamakura, Wadazuka, Yuigihama, Hase.

Kamakura Hotels & Accommodations [view all]
Cheapest and best places to stay

Kamakura Park Hotel

With rooms starting at a steep $250 a night you’ll find the Kamakura Park Hotel to be the most expensive and elegant hotel in the area (however if it is not posh enough for your tastes then you could quite realistically lodge in Yokohama and take the train in to Kamakura for your sight seeing).

The Park Hotel is designed in the European style, with liberal use of floral patterns and marble. You’ll have access to free wifi, free parking, and LCD TVs.

The hotel is noted for its specialty in the French culinary arts.

248-0021 Kanagawa, Kamakura, Sakanoshita 33-6
+81 467-25-5121

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Guest House Kamejikan

With rooms starting only at $44 the Kamejikan is an excellent choice for those who want to save a few bucks. (Compared to the Park Hotel which is 5x the price) Keep in mind however, that this is a mixed dormitory and such living conditions are not for everyone indeed (However the budget traveler would be most interested). The Kamejikan has free wifi, shared bathrooms and a shared Kitchen. It is conveniently located right on Zaimokuza beach.

248-0013 Kanagawa, Kamakura, Zaimokuza 3-17-21

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Mercure Hotel Yokosuka

If you’re not satisfied with what you can find in Kamakura proper then by all means think outside of the box and seek accommodations elsewhere, specifically Yokosuka. Just five train stations South of Kamakura (by the JR Yokosuka Line) it serves as an excellent base for your Kamakura Adventure.

A single occupant standard room will come in near $105, and a double occupant around $135. Travelers are apt to favor the Mercure over the Kamakura Park Hotel, as it is newer, fresher, more modern and just feels more crisp.

Rooms come complete with all the modern necessities: free internet, LCD TV, coffee maker, blow dryer, etc etc etc.

238-0041 Kanagawa, Yokosuka, Honcho 3-27
+81 46-821-1111

http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-7490-mercure-yokosuka/index.shtml

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Transportation

By Shinkansen

If you’ve got the bucks, you can take the shinkansen (Narita Express) from Tokyo to Ofuna (45 minute and 2500 yen), and then transfer at Ofuna to the Yokosuka Line bound for Kamakura Station. (5 minutes and 150 yen)

By Train

A far more affordable and sensible way is to take the JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo Station directly to Kamakura station. The fee is only 890 yen and the trip is a very fast 56 minutes, making the shinkansen option only a few minutes faster.

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