Kamakura Day Trip from Tokyo


Asia, Japan / Monday, January 14th, 2019

Kamakura is a small town about one hour south of Tokyo in the Kanagawa Prefecture, rich in historical sights and breathtaking landscapes. As Kamakura was once a political capital of medieval Japan, is it filled with numerous beautiful temples and shrines giving it traditional features and a taste of old Japan. You can also find great hiking trails, and gorgeous beaches. If you’re tired of the constant activity and crowds of Tokyo, an escape to Kamakura is the perfect day trip to get some fresh air and recharge your batteries.

Three main train stations surround Kamakura – Kamakura, Kita-Kamakura, and Hase – and most of the main sites are located around them. There are also buses and taxis available to reach the most distant sites, but if you’re in shape we strongly recommend you to walk around and even take the hiking trails to enjoy beautiful views on your way.

Wether you want to explore Kamakura’s traditional side with its shrines and temples, spend a day in nature hiking and stopping by the beach, doing some shopping in less crowded areas than in the capital, Kamakura is the perfect off the beaten path day trip from Tokyo.

Arriving in Kamakura for a day trip from Tokyo

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How to get to Kamakura from Tokyo

From Tokyo to Kamakura by train

Good news, there is more than one way to get to Kamakura from Tokyo by train. It can be confusing to use the transportations in Tokyo, so here are the main ways to reach the coastal town from the capital.
Tip: The 3 first lines listed below are JR lines, which means they are free to use if you have a Japan Rail Pass (which you should have if you’re going all around Japan! Be careful: you can only purchase it from outside of Japan so don’t forget to order it before you leave!).

Tokyo station to Kamakura
The fastest way to reach Kamakura if you’re in the centre of Tokyo, is to take the JR Yokosuka Line (dark blue colored) from Tokyo Station to Kamakura Station [towards Zushi].
It takes 1h, and costs ¥920 ($8.90) one way.

You can also take this line from Shinagawa Station.

Shibuya to Kamakura
From Shibuya to Kamakura, take the JR Yamanote Line (green colored) to Shinagawa Station. Then switch to take the JT Yokosuka Line (dark blue colored), and get off at Kamakura Station [towards Zushi].
It takes 1h and costs ¥920($8.90) one way.

(If you don’t have the Japan Rail Pass and you’re looking to save a few yens, you can take the Tokyo Toyoko Line at Shibuya and change at Yokohama to take the JR Yokosuka line to Kamakura.)

Shinjuku to Kamakura
From Shinjuku to Kamakura, take the JR Shonan Shinjuku Line (red colored) from Shinjuku Station to Kamakura Station [towards Zushi].
It takes 1h and costs ¥920 ($8.90) one way.

You can also take this line from Ikebukuro.

Odakyu line and Enoden tram line: the slow picturesque way
If you have more time and want to enjoy some beautiful coastal view, you can reach Kamakura with the Odakyu line and the Enoden tram line.
Take Odakyu line from Shinjuku to Fujiawa. Then switch to the old Enoden tram line until the Kamakura terminus.
It takes around 1h30 (one-way) and costs ¥1470 ($14,40) for a round trip and unlimited usage of the Enoden train.

For this way to reach Kamakura, be sure to take the Enoshima Kamakura free pass.

Crossroad in Kamakura Japan

Kamakura day tours from Tokyo

If you don’t feel like organizing your day trip to Kamakura by yourself, you can always choose to go on a guided tour. Check out these ones:

Things to do in Kamakura on a day trip

1. The Great Buddha : Great Daibutsu at Kotoku-in

The Great Buddha at Kotokuin on a day trip to Kamakura
The most popular attraction in Kamakura is the Great Buddha (Great Daibutsu), located on the Kotoku-in Temple grounds. This is the second tallest Buddha statue in Japan (after the Todaiji Temple in Nara), standing outdoors at 13,35m (44 feet). Made of bronze, it is still intact after almost 800 years.

You can get inside the statue after paying 20 yen. It’s not a ground-shattering experience, but it’s not every day you can get inside a Buddha statue! You will also get information about how the statue was built – to replace a wooden statue badly damaged.

Don’t miss the huge 1,8m long traditional Japanese straw sandal (warazori) on display at the Kotoku-in Temple!

Access from Kamakura station:
-take the green Enoden line to Hase Station (3 stops). Then it’s only a 5-10min walk away.
-take a bus from gate 6.

Entrance fee to Kotoku-in Temple: 200yen
Kotokuin Temple gate from upclose

2. Hasedera Temple

The Hasedera Temple, overlooking the ocean and known for it’s entrance guarded by trees, is famous thanks to its eleven-headed statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. It’s Japan’s tallest wooden statue, standing at 9m tall and gilded. The temple’s entrance at the bottom of the slope is made of a beautiful typical Japanese-style garden with ponds and numerous statues dedicated to Goddesses and protectors of Buddha in a small temple hall. On the wooden terrace halfway up the slope, you can get some rest and refreshments at a small restaurant, and enjoy gorgeous views of Kamakura.

Don’t miss the hundreds of small Benzaiten statues lining the walkways up the wooden hillside.

Visit the Kannon Hall next door for an additional 300yen, in order to see beautiful statues, temple bells, and scrolls.

From June to July, don’t forget to take the “Hydrangea Path”, were more than 2500 hydrangea trees and flowers in full bloom are lined up.

Access to Hasedera Temple:
5min walk from Hase Station (Enoden line)
5-10min walk fromthe Great Buddha

Entrance fee to Hasedera Temple: 300yen.

3. Hokokuji Temple

The 700 years old Hokokuji Temple is also known as the “bamboo temple” because of the lush bamboo grove of over 2000 trees that will welcome you beyond the gate, behind the small hall, on the grounds of the temple.

Don’t miss: the tea ceremony at the small tea house. Or at least have a cup of matcha during your visit to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Access to Hokokuji Temple:
-30-40min walk from Kamakura Station
-Bus from Kamakura Station.
-20-25min walk from the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

Entrance fee to Hokokuji Temple: 200yen
Pay an additional 500yen for a matcha ticket to the tea house.

4. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu main building in Kamakura on a day trip from Tokyo

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is the most important shrine in Kamakura – in fact, the city has been built around it (and no building is allowed to tower above it!). It stands beyond multiple big torii gates, after a 1,8km long approach stretching all the way into the city center, and at the top of 62 steps.

After the entrance bridge, you will see the two ponds on either side, representing enemy clans. More than 1000 year old and housing the Hachiman god for warriors, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine also holds a small museum (where you can learn more about culture and legends of the samurai warriors) and a beautiful garden, making it the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of traditional Japanese architecture.

Don’t hesitate to spend a bit less time at the main building of the shrine to have the time to stroll around the garden and smaller structures.

Access to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine:
-10min walk from the East Exit of JR Kamakura Station.

Entrance fee: none!

The gardens at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine in Kamakura

Bridges of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine on a day trip to Kamakura

5. Shopping and food at Komachi Street

Komachi Dori in Kamakura on a day trip

If you only spend time in one street in Kamakura, it has to bee the busy Komachi-dori. You’ll find many cute cafes, small restaurants and snacks and stylish shops. You won’t have any issue finding the street, as it is indicated by a large red torii gate after Kamakura Station, and leads directly to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

6. Engakuji Temple

Founded in 1282, Engakuji Temple is a Zen temple built after the second invasion attempt by the Mongols. Pay attention to the Butsuden structures leading to the main hall, which houses a wooden statue of the Shaka Buddha. Beyond the main hall, the Shariden Hall holds an enshrined Buddha tooth, and you will also not be able to miss the temple’s large bell on the grounds.

Visiting Engakuji Temple is particularly great in Autumn, thanks to the many maple trees at the entrance.

Don’t hesitate to take a break and a hot cup of tea at the tea house.

Access to Engakuji Temple:
Short walk from Kita-Kamakura Station

7. Kamakura hiking trails

Beautiful view spot from the hiking trail in Kamakura

One of our favorite ways to experience the beauty of Kamakura is through hiking some of its trails. We got a bit lost at the beginning, but the views were definitely worth it! In fact, the different trails in Kamakura connect together most of the popular temples.

The Daibutsu hiking trail after the Great Buddha, but it starts from Kita-kamakura Station, goes past Tokeiji and Jochiji temples, then arrives close to the Great Buddha and Hasedera. It takes around 1 to 1h30 to complete the trail.

Another shorter trail is the Gionyama Trail, which takes only half an hour, beginning close to Kamakura Station at the Myohonji Temple and leading to the Yagumo Shrine and the Harakiri Yagura (cave tombs), with great views on the way.

The Tenen Trail stretches from Kenchoji, goes around the northern hills, through Shishimai Valley and to Zuisenji. It takes around 1h30 to complete. You’ll be able to see tombs along the way and the trail is particularly gorgeous in Autumn.

We took on a trail after visiting the Big Buddha and hiked towards Kamakura Station, passing by the gorgeous and too often overlooked Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine. As we went in early December, the hike was not in the best state around the Big Buddha so we would recommend to make sure you’re up for it. Later on the trail, the path is much more accessible. There are signs, and – of course – gorgeous views.

View of the coast from the hiking trail in Kamakura

8. Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine

Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine in Kamakura on a day trip

We really enjoyed our visit to the Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine, dedicated to a water deity and located inside a cave where a spring flows. As the belief of the temple is that if you wash your money in its waters, you will get it back – and more ! – when spent, you’ll see many people washing their coins and notes at the shrine using the small bamboo baskets provided by the spring.

Access to Zeniarai Benten:
-25-minute walk from JR Kamakura station’s West exit
-on the Daibutsu hiking trail

9. Kenchoji Temple

Kenchoji used to be way more massive, with numerous smaller temples and seven Buddha halls. Several halls and sub-temples remain in this Zen temple, and the Bonsho temple bell is a national treasure. Don’t miss the small Hojo garden behind the main hall and walk the path beyond it to find the Hansobo shrine (protecting Kenchoji), where you’ll see gorgeous views – including of the Mount Fuji, weather permitting.

Access to Kenchoji Temple:
15-20 minute walk from the Kita-Kamakura Station.

10. Tokeiji temple

Tokeiji Temple was built by a woman for women, and used to provide a refuge to women at a time when they were not allowed to divorce.

Don’t miss the lush gardens offering numerous variety of flowers, blossoming at different times of the year.

11. Sugimoto Temple

The Sugimoto Dera – founded in 734 – is the oldest temple in Kamakura and features mossy stone steps going from the bottom of the complex to the top, where the Kannon is housed. If these steps are gorgeous, they are now pretty dangerous and not used anymore – instead you can take one of the newest paths to the sides.

Apart from the Kannon housed in the main hall, don’t miss the five-tiered stone stupas commemorating the lives of samurai who died in battle in the 14th century.

Access to Sugimoto Temple: 
5min walk from Hokoku Temple

 

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Bonus Kamakura attractions when you have more time:

1. Go to the beach

Kamakura is a coastal town, and you might cross some vans heading to the beach with surf boards on the roof!

Yuigahama beach is only a 10min walk south of Hasedera Temple and it’s one of the most popular Kamakura beaches. It’s probably where you should head if you want a day trip to the beach from Tokyo and Yokohama – even if you don’t plan on visiting Kamakura since it’s the closest to Tokyo and has great facilities (shops, bars, cafes, rental shops,…).

Zaimokuza is another one of Kamakura’s most popular sandy beaches, where you might see some surfers. It can be pretty busy in the summer and there are numerous cafes, shops and rental spots to be sure to have a great time at the beach!

A great way to end your visit to Kamakura could also be to catch the sunset with a beautiful view of the Mount Fuji from Cape Inamura, 10min away by the train from Kamakura Station.

B. Take the Enoden Train for the views

To enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the coastline, take a slow ride on the old Enoden electric railway, stretching over 10km, which will take you around 30min from Kamakura Station to Fujisawa Station. It connects many tourist attractions like the Enoshima Shrine, the Enoshima Iwaya caves, etc.

Tip: you can buy tickets from vending machines, but also purchase one on-board from the conductor. Suica and Pasmo cards can be used to purchase tickets (we found it to be the easiest and most convenient way to buy or tickets when in Tokyo!).

Don’t miss it if you have purchased the unlimited free pass!

 

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C. Step on Enoshima island

On a clear day, the views of Mount Fuji draw many tourists and locals to Enoshima island, along with a trip to Enoshima shrine, exploring of the caves, and walking along the coastline. There are also beautiful gardens and observation decks, and cafes and restaurants perfect to let you spend a good amount of time on the island.

Access to Enoshima Island:
Enoden line from Kamakura to Enoshima Station. It takes 25 minutes and costs ¥260.

Where to stay in Kamakura

While we’ve only spend the day in Kamakura, I would definitely go back to explore it more thoroughly and would love to stay in Kamakura in order to spend some time at the beach. Kamakura is a great day trip from Tokyo, but there’s more than enough to see to spend a couple of days around!

Best Hostels in Kamakura

The WeBase Hostel Kamakura has family rooms, 12 futons traditional rooms double rooms and bunk beds dormitory rooms, as well as a yoga studio. It’s a beautiful place only a short walk away from Yuigahama beach, 15min away from Kamakura Station by feet and a few minutes walk away from Enoshima Dentetsu station.
Check the latest prices and reviews on Booking.com

The Hostel YUIGAHAMA + SOBA BAR is a modern and welcoming place with a soba bar on the ground floor and a bicycle rental service. It offers both a double rooms and dormitory rooms. The hostel is only 8min away by feet from Kamakura Station and the Yuigahama beach is a 10min walk away.
Check the latest prices and reviews on Booking.com

Best Budget Ryokan in Kamakura

As always in Japan, staying in a ryokan makes for a great authentic experience.

Kakiya Ryokan is not in the center of Kamakura, but it’s a 3min walk away from the Enoshima beach and 3min walk away from the Enoden Koshigoe Station. Being a ryokan, it offers traditional bedroom with tatami straw mats floor and futon beds. They have both room with shared or private bathroom.
Check the latest prices and reviews on Booking.com

Great hotels in Kamakura

The Kamakura Park Hotel
 is a 4 star European-style hotel a short walk away from the beach (and the rooms have a beach view!). There’s parking, wifi, and a spa on-site. The hotel is not far from the historical center as it’s only a 10min walk away from the Great Buddha and the Hasedera temple, and a 12min walk away from Hase Station.
Check the latest prices and reviews on Booking.com

The Kamakura Prince Hotel, also a 4 star European-style hotel, offers rooms with a gorgeous view either on the bay, or on the Mount Fuji. They also provide a yukata in the room, which I personally really enjoy wearing to lounge! It’s a 8min walk away from the Enoden Shichirigahama Station and a little far from the main historical attractions and temples in Kamakura so you might want to make sure you want to take the transportations, or it’s great if you have a car!
Check the latest prices and reviews on Booking.com

Practical Tips for a Day Trip to Kamakura

Audio Guide: To learn everything there is to know about Kamakura’s sights, you can rent a multi-lingual audio guide for 500yen at the Tourism Information Center at the East Exit of Kamakura Station. Be sure to bring it back before the (early) closing time.

The Kamakura Free Kankyo Tegata Travel PassIt allows you unlimited rides on the 5 bus routes that run through Kamakura, and on the Enoden Line (within a restricted radius). The ticket costs 550 yen for adults and 280 yen for children and can be bought at the Tourism Information Center at Kamakura Station, Enoden Kamakura, Hase Station, Shonan Keikyu bus station and from certain locations in Kamakura.

When to go to Kamakura: It’s a great day trip from Tokyo any time of the year (we went in late Autumn and it was amazing), but we recommend you arrive early in the morning. Since most of the temples, attractions and shops close pretty early in the afternoon (around 4 to 5pm), it’s better to be there in the morning so you can have plenty of time to explore.

What to pack for Kamakura: Most important would be to be sure to wear comfortable shoes and there’s likely going to be a lot of walking around involved and some stairs climbing in the temples. If you plan on hiking, take a good pair of waterproof hiking shoes. And of course if you’re planning to stop by the beach, don’t forget to take your favorite swimsuit and beach stuff!

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