Kamakura used to be the capital of Japan from 1185 to 1333. In the 12th century governmental power in Japan had been moved from court nobles to warriors called “samurai”, and Minamoto Yoritomo succeeded in establishing his new military government in Kamakura which was independent from the Imperial Court. Although it was overthrown in 1333, the political form of the military government called “Bakufu” had been inherited and kept until the Meiji Restoration for about 700 years.
Kamakura has a unique quiet atmosphere of the old capital. You can enjoy not only the historical structures, but also seasonable nature such as cherry blossoms, hydrangeas and autumn leaves. It is a very popular destination for a day trip from Tokyo.
Zen Temples in Kita-Kamakura
There are some Rinzai Zen temples around Kita-Kamakura station which flourished during the Kamakura era. The first rank of Kamakura Five Temples is Kenchoji which is the oldest Zen temple in Japan, and the second rank is Engakuji which was established for paying respects to the dead of the Mongol Invasion. Jochiji quietly standing at the foot of the mountain is the fourth rank. My additional recommendation is Meigetsuin which is famous for an elegant circular window and hydrangea blooming during the rainy season around June.
Shrines related to Minamoto Yoritomo, the founder of the Kamakura government
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the symbol of Kamakura, and many tourists enjoy walking around the prosperous streets from Kamakura station to the shrine. If you have enough time and strength, I would like to recommend the hiking the small mountain from Kita-Kamakura to Kamakura so that you can visit the unique shrines on the way such as Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine and Sasuke Inari Shrine. It is said that money washed in Zeniarai Benzaiten will double!!
Great Buddha of Kamakura & Hasedera Temple
Kotokuin and Hasedera Temple is about 10 minutes’ walk from Hase station of the Enoden Line, which is small but famous railway in Kamakura. Kotokuin Temple is famous for its Great Buddha “Kamakura Daibutsu”, which is the second largest Buddha in Japan after the Great Buddha of Nara. Hasedera is famous for its statue of “Kannon”, and I would like you to enjoy the additional attraction in this temple such as the beautiful garden and observation deck to see the coastal city of Kamakura.
* Please refer to this site to check other general information of Kamakura.
Kamakura station is about 1 hour ride by JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo station. You can get off the train at Kita-Kamakura station to see the Zen temples such as Engakuji and Kenchoji. The nearby railway station for Great Buddha of Kamakura or Hasedera is Hase station, which is about 5 minutes’ ride by Enoden Line from Kamakura station.
You can enjoy a day trip from Tokyo, but you should depart early in the morning to visit all of the above recommendations. If you stay overnight at Kamakura, you can have enough time to visit not only other attractive temples in Kamakura but also Enoshima, the tiny island located in 7km west of Kamakura, which is about 30 minutes’ ride by Enoden line from Kamakura station.
|1||Tokyo -> Kita-Kamakura (Japan Railway)
Kita-Kamakura -> Kamakura (Hiking)
Kamakura -> Hase -> Kamakura (Enoden)
Kamakura -> Tokyo (Japan Railway)
|Zen Temples in Kita-Kamakkura
Shrines related to Minamoto Yoritomo
Great Buddha of Kamakura