Kamakura is a small Japanese city in the Kanagawa Prefecture. Today, Kamakura might be relevantly small but it is a city with a great heritage and historical importance. I was surprised to find out that this small city used to be the capital of Japan during the Kamakura period.
Less than an hour away from Tokyo via the JR line, and with such a glorious past, Kamakura is the perfect destination for those who want a little break from the buzzing Tokyo metropolis and those who love Japanese Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.
Put on a comfortable pair of shoes and get ready for quite some walking because there are plenty of temples and shrines around Kamakura!
But if you are looking for a temple with a serene vibe and away from the crowds then you might want to visit Hokaiji or Hōkai-ji. This Buddhist temple is one of the most peaceful ones in Kamakura and definitely a place to find inner harmony. Egara Tenjin shrine is equally beautiful and calm.
If you are more interested in a beautiful Japanese garden, head to Hokokuji or Hōkoku-ji, an old temple of Zen Buddhism. This temple is surrounded by a mini bamboo forest where you can also enjoy a cup of tea. Don’t forget to have a look at the beautiful Zen gardens with the perfectly circular gravel patterns.
But Kamakura is not only about temples! If stunning temples constitute a precious reminder of Japan’s splendid past, then colourful vending machines located at almost every corner definitely represent Japan’s present! So don’t hesitate to wander around in order to discover Japan’s past and present, follow little alleys, check out local food and grocery stores and admire the cute house entrances.
And if after spending most of your day exploring Kamakura’s streets and temples you feel hungry don’t ignore your appetite and satisfy your hunger with a proper Japanese meal. Ignore the mainstream tourist restaurants and head to Tsukui restaurant for a proper Okonomiyaki!
Tsukui is hidden in a tiny alley just by Kamakura train station (west exit). There is no English sign so make sure you use your map app to find it! And last tip from me…don’t forget that shoes need to be removed so feel free to put on your fancy pair of socks for the day!