Translated by Lester Somera
Just a Kansai guy trying to get by
Located an hour from Tokyo in Kanagawa Prefecture, Kamakura is home to the Great Buddha Hall and a myriad of other historic buildings. This comprehensive guide explains all you need to know to enjoy Kamakura to the fullest!
Kamakura is a city in the southern part of Kanagawa prefecture. More than eight centuries ago, it prospered as the seat of the Kamakura shogunate, back when samurai were the ruling class of Japan. Up until that point, Kyoto had been the nation’s capital, but the lord Minamoto no Yoritomo carried out his nation-building endeavors with Kamakura as the hub of the country, and the culture of Kamakura still remains in many temples and traditional arts.
Even in modern-day Kamakura, there are many temples that evoke the character of Kamakura’s time as the capital, as well as places to try Zen meditation and participate in tea ceremonies. The city’s seafood dishes, popular among gourmets, use fresh young sardines from the nearby ocean. In addition, there are many cool cafes and a variety of stores, making Kamakura a popular tourist destination for men and women of all ages.
1. Kamakura Area Guide
2. The Weather in Kamakura and What to Wear
3. How to Get to Kamakura
4. Getting Around in Kamakura
5. Convenient Kamakura Tour Buses
6. 20 Kamakura Sightseeing Spots
7. Recommended Kamakura Cafes
8. Kamakura Shopping Spots
9. A Model Itinerary for Kamakura
10. Accommodations in Kamakura
11. Kamakura Events and Nature
12. Kamakura Dining And Souvenirs
13. In Conclusion
The districts throughout Kamakura have their own highlights, from the spots around the station and the giant Buddha in the famous Hase area, to the relaxed atmosphere of the cafes in Kita-Kamakura. We’ll introduce you to some of the best sights in Kamakura.
Right outside of Kamakura Station, Komachi Street is Kamakura’s number one shopping spot, lined with stores selling Japanese sundries, restaurants serving up local Kamakura cuisine, sweets shops and more. At the end of the street, the Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine still retains an aura which exemplifies how Kamakura felt when it was the prosperous heart of the nation. Komachi Street is a must-visit.
The area around the Enoden Hase Station is particularly famous in Kamakura, with its rows of shrines and temples. Foremost among these temples is Kotokuin Temple, with its Great Buddha hall. Others include Hasedera Temple, with its reputation for hydrangeas, Kosokuji Temple, Jugenji Temple and Gorei-jinja Shrine.
This picturesque spot at the Enoden Kamakurakokomae train stop frequently appears in anime, manga and movies. Snap a photo of this tranquil scene for yourself, with the sweep of Shichirigahama Beach’s sand and surf spreading out behind you.
For more information, check out our Slam Dunk! Let's Go To Kamakurakōkōmae Station article.
Kita-Kamakura has cool cafes, traditional art and temples like Meigetsuin Temple. Its understated, refined vibe feels totally different from the Kamakura Station area, with its crowds of tourists.
Kamakura has a relatively gentle climate. The best time to see the hydrangeas is in June, and November and December are the peak for fall foliage. Check them out at the city’s famous spots if you visit in early summer or fall/winter.
See Best Spots To See Kamakura’s Fiery Fall Foliage! for more on Kamakura in the autumn.
Kamakura has many highlights, with plenty of interesting places within walking distance from the station. You’ll want to wear sneakers or other shoes that emphasize function over fashion. Near the coast, you may encounter stronger winds or chillier temperatures than towards the station, so it is a good idea to bring an extra cardigan or light jacket with you in the spring and summer, and to dress in layers in the fall and winter.
To get to Kamakura from Ikebukuro, Shinjuku or Shibuya Station, your most convenient route is via the Shonan Shinjuku Line on a train bound for Zushi. From Ikebukuro, the journey is one hour and three minutes; from Shinjuku, it takes 57 minutes; from Shibuya, it takes 52. The fare is 920 yen from all three stations.
Be careful when taking the Shonan Shinjuku Line. If you get on a train bound for Kozu or Odawara, you’ll need to switch midway at Ofuna Station and transfer to the JR Yokosuka Line. You don’t need to transfer on trains bound for Zushi, Yokosuka or Kurihama.
You can head directly to Kamakura Station from Tokyo Station, Ueno Station or Shinagawa Station via the Yokosuka Line. The fare from Tokyo Station is 920 yen (57 minutes), and from Shinagawa Station, it’s 720 yen (49 minutes).
For more information, check out our Visit The Great Buddha: How To Reach Kamakura From Tōkyō article.
Next we’ll talk about how to get from major airports to Kamakura Station. First, you’ll need to take the Narita Express to Ofuna Station. (110 minutes, 4620 yen on a regular train). From Ofuna Station, transfer to the JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line (10 minutes, 160 yen).
You need to head to Yokohama Station from Narita Station, so take the Keikyu Limousine Bus from the airport (30 minutes, 560 yen). From Yokohama Station, take either the Yokosuka Line or Shonan-Shinjuku Line to get to Kamakura Station (330 yen, 20 minutes).
Trains on the Yokosuka Line, Sobu Line and Shonan-Shinjuku Line operate out of JR Kamakura Station. Trains on the the Yokosuka Line stop at the neighboring Kita-Kamakura Station.
Yokohama Keikyu and Enoshima buses operate in the city, allowing riders to visit tourist spots around Kamakura and go as far as Yokohama.
The Enoden travels between Fujisawa Station and Kamakura Station. Some of its stops are Hase, which is close to the famous Buddha and Hasedera Temple, the well-known photo spot Kamakurakokomae, and the busy Enoshima Island. It’s an indispensable train line for visitors to the Kamakura area.
While Kamakura does have taxis and rental car services, there are many narrow streets, and they can be crowded during peak tourist season; it’s best to either take public transportation or rent a bicycle.
We recommend visiting the area’s temples by bicycle; since they are somewhat spread out geographically, the Enoden can get pretty crowded. If your body is up to the challenge, rent a bicycle to travel around Kamakura.
Two people can hitch a ride on a rickshaw in front of JR Kamakura Station. The man pulling the rickshaw will go around the surrounding areas and introduce the local tourist spots. For more information, take a look at What To Do In Historical Kamakura: 6 Sightseeing Spots.
Kamakura has convenient bus passes for tourists, so find one that covers the areas you want to visit.
The Noriori-kun pass (600 yen for adults/300 yen for children) gives holders unlimited rides on the segment of the Enoden line between Fujisawa and Kamakura Stations and can be purchased in Enoden stations or from affiliated shops. Some of the spots on this segment include Jojuin Temple - famous for the Great Buddha and hydrangeas - Hasedera Temple, and Inamuragasaki Cape, with its beautiful sunset. This pass is sure to be of use to anyone visiting Kamakura’s most well-known temples.
This pass (700 yen for adults/350 yen for children) gives holders unlimited rides on the JR lines in the Kamakura and Enoshima areas, the Enoshima Rail lines and the Shonan Monorail. Pick one up at a vending machine or ticket counter located in these JR East stations: Ofuna, Fujisawa, Kamakura and Kita-Kamakura.
This pass (570 yen for adults/290 for children) gives holders unlimited rides on these bus routes: from Kamakura Station to Hase Station on the Enoden line, and the buses departing from Kamakura Station’s east exit, bound for Jomyoji, Daibutsu-mae. They’re sold at places like Kamakura Station’s city tourism information counter, the Kamakura office of the Shonan Keikyu Bus company and Enoden information booths. You can also buy them at Hase Station or at Engakuji Temple near Kita-Kamakura Station, as well as the Kita-Kamakura Kominka Museum.
Now we’ll list off 20 of the best places to visit in Kamakura, from famous temples to beaches with gorgeous sunsets.
At a height of roughly 11.4 m while seated, and weighing 121 tons, this giant Buddha is the symbol of Kamakura. You can check out the inside of the statue for just 20 yen, too.
For more information, see Learn More About The Giant Buddha In Kamakura - Kamakura-Daibutsu.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Hase 4-2-28
Hasedera Temple is five minutes’ walk from Hase Station on the Enoden. Called the “Temple of Flowers,” it’s popular as a place where visitors can watch the scenery change with the seasons. For more information, check out our What To Do In Historical Kamakura: 6 Sightseeing Spots article.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Hase 3-11-2
Komachi Street is right outside the east exit of JR Kamakura Station, and spans 360 meters in length, with Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine at the end. The street is always busy with shoppers, even at mid-day during the week, to say nothing of weekends. At the rows of stores on Komachi Street, you can stroll around and snack on Japanese treats, visit souvenir stores and pick up fashion accessories and other goods. The street also has all sorts of genres of food. To get there, take a left out of Kamakura Station’s east exit and walk for one minute.
Hokokuji is known as “the bamboo temple” by tourists for the beautiful bamboo forest that spreads out behind the temple itself. Kamakura, Hōkokuji: A Secluded And Fascinating Bamboo Temple has more on this charming spot.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Jomyoji 2-7-4
A short walk from Kamakura Station, the Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine still retains an aura which exemplifies how Kamakura felt when it was the prosperous heart of the nation, which you can feel for yourself when you visit. For more information, check out our What To Do In Historical Kamakura: 6 Sightseeing Spots article.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Yukinoshita 2-1-31
It has long been thought that the Zeniarai Benten shrine, nestled deep in the Kamakura mountains, can bestow blessings of financial prosperity. Put your money in a strainer at the shrine and rinse it with spring water from the shrine compound, and it will multiply many times over, or so the story goes. Take a look at Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine - The Miraculous Water Of Kamakura to learn more.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Sasuke 2-25-16
Engakuji Temple is a short walk from Kita-Kamakura Station, and is known for its giant “Sanmon” temple gate, as well as the dragon painted on the temple ceiling. Every morning at 6 AM, the temple conducts a free dawn meditation meeting, which doesn’t require a reservation. Check out Refresh In The Morning: Free Zazen At Engaku-ji Temple for more.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Yamanouchi 409
Kosokuji Temple belongs to the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. It is well-known for its flowers; every time the seasons change, the flowers paint the temple grounds new colors. It’s also famous for its hydrangeas, with more than 200 varieties planted in the compound.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Hase 3-9-7
Belonging to the Rinzai sect of Buddhism, Zuisenji Temple is Kamakura’s first temple of flowers, and is also known for its fall foliage. No matter when you visit, you will behold a cornucopia of blooms, with daffodils, plum blossoms, cherry blossoms, wisterias, hydrangeas and more.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Nikaido 710
This Rinzai Buddhist temple, 15 minutes from Kamakura Station, is famous for its clovers; many people visit the temple in September, said to be the best time to view them.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Ogigayatsu 4-18-8
This gorgeous temple has a garden which is only open for visitors to see on spring and fall weekends when the weather is clear. Chojuji is also the grave site of Takauji Ashikaga, a prominent figure in the waning days of the Kamakura era.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Yamanouchi 1503
Meigetsuin Temple in Kita-Kamakura is also called “the hydrangea temple” for its flowers. You can view the garden through the “windows of enlightenment,” shaped like circles, which symbolize enlightenment, truth, and the cosmos. The garden behind the temple is only open for viewing during the fall foliage season. For more information, read Meigetsuin Temple, Kamakura - Japanese Aesthetics At Its Finest.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Yamanouchi 189
Close to the Enoden Gokurakuji Station, Gokurakuji Temple has famous hydrangeas and is located in a quiet residential neighborhood. The main temple building has a stately air.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Gokurakuji 3-6-7
10 minutes away from Hasedera Temple, this shrine is a popular photo spot despite its comparatively small size. You can capture great scenes of blooming hydrangeas around a torii gate up ahead, while an Enoden train rattles by in the distance.
For more information, check out our Enjoy Stopovers And Plenty Of Wonderful Scenery From The Enoden Train article.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Sakanoshita 4-9
In the spring, many visitors come to see the park’s flowers, then come again during the rainy season, when the hydrangeas are in bloom. In the fall, you can see vivid foliage colors. The park also has hiking trails and picnic spots. Kamakura’s Best Spots To See The Fall Foliage has more.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Ogigayatsu 4-7-1
The Kamakura Museum of Literature was once used as a residence by Eisaku Sato, former Prime Minister. It is said that here in this Western-style structure, he became close with the Nobel Prize-winning writer Yasunari Kawabata, and the building is rich with history. The roses in the garden are in full bloom from mid-May to late June, and from mid-October to late November. For more information, see Kamakura Museum of Literature: Yukio Mishima’s Novels.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Hase 1−5−3
Erected 80 years ago, this extravagant building was the home of Hironobu Kacho. The residence was made using the half-timbering style, and it was selected as one of Japan’s top 100 historical parks.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Jomyoji 2-6-37
16 minutes away from the Enoden Fujisawa Station, this picturesque spot at the Enoden Kamakurakokomae train stop frequently appears in anime, manga and movies. Many people gather here on weekends to snap a photo at the railway crossing, with the sweep of Shichirigahama Beach’s sand and surf spreading out in the background. The fare is 260 yen. Check out our Slam Dunk! Let's Go To Kamakurakkomae Station article for more details.
Yuigahama and Inamuragasaki are the beaches that run alongside the Kamakura seaside. When summer rolls around, the beaches will be flooded with people enjoying the water and taking part in fireworks festivals. Both of these places are known for their gorgeous sunsets, as well. For more information, check out our Enjoy Stopovers And Plenty Of Wonderful Scenery From The Enoden Train article.
Kamakurabori refers to a type of carved wooden lacquerware that has been made in the Kamakura area since the late Heian and Muromachi periods of Japanese history. At the Kamakurabori Assembly Hall, not only can you see ancient examples of these works, but even dine on tableware made from modern pieces in their vegetarian restaurant, Cafe Guri. Read Kamakurabori, The Place To Go For Exquisite Kamakura Carvings for more information.
Kamakura has many cool cafes. We’ll introduce you to a few of our favorites.
This cafe is located at the foot of the mountain that looms above the Great Buddha. We recommend Itsuki Garden’s homemade cakes and herbal teas. For more information, see Itsuki Garden In Kamakura: A Cafe In The Sky.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Tokiwa 917
Get a rice bowl that fuses Japanese and Western tastes at this cafe. One of the most popular menu offerings for tourists is the Shonan young sardine pepperoncino. For more information, check out Ever Heard Of Donburi? Try One At Donburi CAFE Dining Bowls.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Komachi 2-14-7
Spend a relaxing time at this cafe by Kita-Kamakura Station, which offers refreshing drinks and sweets that are light on the stomach.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Yamanouchi 377-2
Mushinan is a popular cafe by the Enoden Wadazuka Station. Its most popular menu item is the an-mitsu, bean jam and fruit coated in syrup.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura,Yuigahama 3-2-13
This cafe, renovated by IDEE, was built out of the residence of writer Jiro Osaragi, who truly loved Kamakura. The cafe feels like you just stepped back in time to the Taisho era (1912-1926). For more information, read Feel Warmth At 3 Recommended Old House Styled Cafes.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Yukinoshita 1-11-22
Kamakura still retains much of its traditional townscape. Many shrines, temples and other historical sites are crammed into a small area, which sees hordes of Japanese and international tourists visit every day. Shopping streets in this area, like Komachi Street, Onari Street and Walk Omachi have all sorts of fascinating stores. What’s more, many of these places are privately owned and operated, so you’re sure to find something unique to a particular store. We recommend that you do some hunting in these areas.
Both sides are lined with places where you can pick something up to eat while you stroll along. Sample senbei rice crackers, takoyaki and more! There are also peculiar accessory stores, among the many genres, so try visiting as many places as you can.
Onari Street, near the west exit of Kamakura Station, sees a greater number of local shoppers compared to Komachi Street, and has more of a working-class vibe. Low-key cafes and cool accessory shops line the street.
Walk Omachi is a little shopping mall about a ten-minute walk from Kamakura Station. There are eight tenants in the two-story terrace house buildings, which were renovated from old Japanese-style homes.
Some of these places include Goto Udon Sara, which serves up Japanese udon, and the unique bookstore Books Moblo. Walk Omachi has recently garnered a lot of attention as an interesting new place in the area, so drop by if you have tha chance.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Omachi 1-1-13
Five minutes from the Kamakura Station west exit, Kamakura Moyai Kogei sells Japanese crafts from as far north as Akita to as far south as Okinawa, with an emphasis on pottery.
The products inside the shop have all been carefully handmade by artisans, and are of supreme quality! Using traditional techniques and materials from every region in Japan, each and every piece is precious and valuable, yet reasonably priced. Drop in and make some crafts from Kamakura Moyai Kogei part of your day-to-day life.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Sasuke 2-1-10
If you’ve only got a day to spend in Kamakura, try this route.
Pay your respects at Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine, then go shopping on Komachi Street on your way back and grab some Japanese sweets and souvenirs. We suggest your stroll around with a delicious snack in one hand as you check out the variety of stores.
Behind Hokokuji Temple, known as “the bamboo temple,” a forest comprising over 2000 bamboo trees lies in wait. A visit to this whimsical, mysterious scene is highly recommended for tourists. From Kamakura Station, the bus to Hokokuji is about a 12-minute ride, while it takes up to half an hour to reach the temple on foot.
Stop for lunch at Akimoto, right in front of Kamakura Station. The restaurant is well-known for expertly using young sardines and locally-grown vegetables in its cuisine.
Take the Enoshima Rail train (Enoden) from Kamakura Station. When riding the Enoden, you should use the Noriori-kun day pass (600 yen for adults/300 yen for children), which allows holders unlimited rides on the line for one day. Head three stops to Hase Station and stroll over to Hasedera Temple, five minutes away. You can enjoy the Kamakura colors here all year; in June, you can see hydrangeas, and check out the foliage from late October. From Hasedera Temple, head to Kotokuin to see the Great Buddha.
After you see Kamakura’s most exemplary temples, hop on the Enoden from Hase, go four stops on a train bound for Fujisawa and get off at Kamakurakokomae. Once the sunlight starts to wane, head two stops back towards Kamakura Station and head for Inamuragasaki Station. The beach five minutes away from the station has a great reputation as a place to watch the sun set. If you’re lucky and the weather is good, you can even see Mt. Fuji at the same time.
If you plan to see as much of Kamakura as you can, then you should stay at a hotel in the area. Kamakura has many very charming places to rest your head, like the Kamakura Guest House and Kamejikan, which operate out of renovated Japanese-style homes, while IZA Kamakura Guest House And Bar also has an attached bar with a cool vibe. Hostel YUIGAHAMA+SOBA BAR is a great hostel built in a former rickshaw storehouse that has its own soba bar too. For more information, check out our Kamakura Guest House, Kamejikan, IZA Kamakura Guest House And Bar and Hostel YUIGAHAMA+SOBA BAR articles.
This festival is held by fishermen at Sakanoshita Beach and Zaimokuza Beach on January 2nd. They gather to give thanks for their safe voyages over the past year, and to pray for bountiful catches and safe travels in the year to come. It’s customary for fishermen to climb atop their ship masts with raised banners, and throw Mandarin oranges and sweets into the sea.
At this elegant event, meant as a remembrance of the Kamakura shogunate’s founder, Minamoto no Yoritomo, people dressed in period-appropriate garb march in parades. You can see mounted archers on horseback riding alongside, and a woman dressed as Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune’s lover, Shizuka Gozen, performing her traditional dance.
Rainy season is the best time to see the hydrangeas planted all over Kamakura. Their vibrant blooms lend plenty of color to the area’s venerable temples, creating a tasteful and beautiful scene.
At this September event held at Tsuruoka Hachimangu, witness Kamakura bowmen - clad in Kamakura karishozoku outfits - firing arrows while on horseback.
In fall and winter, the leaves of Kamakura’s trees turn a fiery red and draw photographers and nature-lovers from across Japan and around the world with their beauty.
Dishes featuring freshly-caught shirasu, or young sardines, are Kamakura dining table staples. Some of the many variations include shirasu rice bowls, shirasu-topped pizza and shirasu pasta. In addition, Kamakura-grown vegetables are prized by gourmet chefs, so visit some restaurants which serve locally-sourced vegetable dishes if they pique your interest.
As we mentioned earlier, you can find incredible all-vegetarian meals served at the Kamakurabori Assembly Hall, while Hostel YUIGAHAMA has its own soba bar. But if you're looking for something lighter, then head to the Tobira Branch of Toshimaya, just outside of Kamakura Station, where you can enjoy freshly baked sweet and savory buns and rolls, plus hot and cold drinks in their cafe space.
Kamakura is also well-known for ham. Business began making ham in the areas around Kamakura over a century ago, during the Meiji era, and ham came to be one of Kamakura’s most well-known products. Since the ham is sold in vacuum-sealed packages, you may be able to buy some as a souvenir. However, many countries do not allow meat to be brought in through customs, so you’re probably better off savoring a slice at an affiliated restaurant.
Kamakura’s most famous souvenir item is Hato Sable, shortbread cookies shaped like doves. These cookies are perfect for afternoon tea. Other souvenir possibilities include Kamakura carvings, lacquerware and other traditional crafts. Japanese blades from Masamune Kogei are also an option, as well as konnyaku jelly soaps for ladies.
For more information, check out our Kamakura's Best Souvenir: Toshimaya's Hato Sable article.
One of Japan's old capitals, Kamakura is a fascinating place to visit all year round. With so many historically significant buildings, beautiful natural landscapes, and incredible foods to enjoy, you're sure to find yourself spending a fulfilling day in the area. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, or if you have the chance, travel by rickshaw, and see all that this stunning former capital has to offer!