Kamakura Things to Do

  • Money Washing at Zeniarai Benten Shrine
    Money Washing at Zeniarai Benten Shrine
    by Rabbityama
  • Things to Do
    by Ewingjr98
  • Things to Do
    by Ewingjr98

Most Recent Things to Do in Kamakura

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    Shopping along Komachi Street

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jul 13, 2013
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    Kamakura's main shopping area is called Komachi Street, and is stretches nearly a half mile from Kamakura Station north to Hachimangu Shrine. The street has a variety of shops and restaurants slling everything from souvenirs to liquor. There are many restaurants on the main street, and on many of the small side alleys.

    While here, we had a snack at a restaurant called Cafe Biscuit, we shopped in a small craft store that sells Japanese cloth, and we looked through a few other stores such as a sake shop. This is a really great area and worth a visit.

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    Hiking Around Kamakura

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jul 13, 2013
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    There are a number of hiking trails around Kamakura connecting the great Daibutsu, the temples and the shopping areas of town. The trails generally follow the hills that surround the town and make it a natural fortress.

    The three main trails are the Daibutsu Hiking Course to the west, the Tenen Hiking Course to the north, and the Gionyama Hiking Course to the east. The trails are narrow dirt paths, very steep in locations and muddy when it rains due to the lack of drainage.

    We hiked part of the Daibutsu trail, which begins just a quarter mile north of the Daibatsu next to a small traffic tunnel. The steps lead up from the road, to the muddy trail. We met some other hikers who were dirty and tired due to the bad trail conditions.

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    Hase-dera Temple

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jul 10, 2013

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    Hase-dera Temple, officially known as Kaikōzan Jishōin Hase-dera, was founded in 736 AD. According to legend, a priest at the original Hase-dera Temple in Nara carved two giant statues of Kannon from a single tree. He placed the first statue in in the temple in Nara, and set the second adrift in the ocean in 721 AD. Fifteen years later, the statue washed ashore in Kamakura, and the namesake temple was constructed here.

    Today the temple is famous for it stunning views over Kamakura and the nearby beaches, its hydrangeas that bloom in June and July, its cave tombs, and, of course, its ancient 30 foot tall wooden gilded statue of Kannon.

    Admission Fees
    300 Yen for Adults
    100 Yen for Children 12 and under

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    The Beaches of Kamakura

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jul 8, 2013
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    Besides the Kamakura Buddha and the numerous temples, many visitors to this town enjoy the sandy beaches. Kamakura has two main coastal areas, Yuigahama and Zaimokuza Beaches. Yuigahama Beach is said to be very lively in the summer, though the water is not the cleanest around. The beach has many temporary huts during July and August, but the area attracts many foreigners.

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    Inside the Daibutsu

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jul 8, 2013
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    For a dirt-cheap 20 Yen, you can venture inside the Kamakura Buddha. After paying, you walk down a narrow set of steps, under the base of the statue, then up another set of steps to the large, hollow interior of the Buddha. Inside you can clearly see how the 30 separate pieces of bronze were cleverly pieced together from the bottom up. There are two bronze shutter at the shoulders of the Buddha to let in light and fresh air. You will also notice where the neck of the Buddha was reinforced in 1960 with a strong plastic.

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    Side Trip to Yokohama

    by Ewingjr98 Written Jul 7, 2013
    Yokohama Chinatown
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    Yokohama, Japan's second largest city with about 3.5 million residents, is located a quick 30 minutes south of central Tokyo by train. The city was just a small fishing village until American Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in 1853, then again in 1854, with a mandate to open Japan to international trade. In 1858 Yokohama was selected to be among the first five ports open to commercial trade, and the port opened in 1859. Foreigners soon followed, establishing a community in a separated part of the city no Kinnai, meaning behind the barrier. Yokohama became Japan's first city to publish a newspaper, the first to have gas lamps, and--most important--the first city to brew beer.

    We visited Yokohama in July 2013. In the morning, we passed through Yokohama on our way to Kamakura, then returned later that afternoon. We stayed at the Daiwa Roynet Hotel next to Chinatown and the Yokohama Stadium, and explored Chinatown during the evening. The next morning, we checked out, and again strolled through Chinatown on our way to the historic Motomachi and its historic Western houses. We then walked several miles from Harbor View Park, along the waterfront, to the central business district of Minato Mirai, before jumping on the train and heading back to Tokyo.

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    Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kamakura Daibutsu)

    by Ewingjr98 Written Jul 6, 2013
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    The Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kamakura Daibutsu) is Kamakura's most famous landmark. It stands 13.35 meters tall, making Daibutsu the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan. Cast in 1252, and constructed of some 30 separate pieces, the statue was originally inside of Kotokuin Temple. The temple was repeatedly destroyed by storms in 1334, 1369, and 1498. The base was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, but soon replaced, and the statue's neck was strengthened in 1960-1961.

    Entry to see the Buddha is 200 Yen per person. The Buddha is impressive, but it stands alone, with no gardens, buildings, monuments or other objects of interest. Massive crowds gather around the Buddha, even in rainy weather... we even saw a group of monks from Cambodia or Thailand in the orange robes.

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    Kotokuin Temple

    by Rabbityama Written Jan 3, 2012
    Kotokuin's Famous Daibutsu
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    Although the temple is Kotokuin, most just call it the Great Buddha (Daibutsu), because this is where Kamakura's famous Buddha is located! The 121 ton Buddha took ten years to finish (starting in 1252). The main building of the temple once housed the Buddha (like Todaiji in Nara) but the temple was toppled in 1369 and never rebuilt. The Buddha that you see today is the exact same Buddha that was built in the 13th century: It has survived many floods and earthquakes, making it all the more impressive.

    There are some other things here aside from the Buddha, as well. Behind the Buddha is a small but pretty cedar forest and temple building from Korea, taken during WWII. It is said that the hall is supposed to be returned to Korea.

    Entrance to Kotokuin is 200 yen. You can also enter the Buddha for an additional 20 yen. Personally I think it's worth entering to see more closely how it was made and simply because it's interesting. Plus, the temple entrance fee is already very cheap considering its fame.

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    Zeniarai Benten Shrine

    by Rabbityama Written Jan 2, 2012
    Cave of Zeniarai Benten Shrine
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    Zeniarai Benten Shrine was possibly my favorite place in Kamakura. It was built during the Kamakura Period. The entrance is through a cave-like pathway through the stone hillside. Upon entry it does not appear to be so different from most other shrines but if you walk past the honden there is an area carved into the hillside. This is the unique feature of the shrine: It is said that if you wash your money in the spring in the cave that whatever amount it is will be doubled. You can get the baskets for washing in front of the honden and bring it into the cave. Put in your money and pour the water on it. Let the money dry naturally (and put the basket in the area to the left) and sometime in the near future you should find that amount double for you!

    The shrine is dedicated to the goddess of fortune, Benzaiten, and it is also a snake shrine. Benzaiten is associated with the zodiac snake, and the shrine was founded after a dream that occurred on the day, month, and year of the snake.

    Entrance is free.

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    Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

    by Rabbityama Updated Jan 2, 2012
    Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
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    Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the most important shrine in Kamakura. It was built for Emperor Ojin, Empress Jingu, and a Hime-gami (female goddess). It was moved to its current spot in 1191 by Yoritomo Minamoto who helped establish Kamakura as the capital. The shrine buildings you see today were rebuilt in 1828 by Ienari Tokugawa.

    To the left of the staircase stood an 800 year old gingko tree until it died in 2010. The tree was older than even the original shrine. The assisination of Sanetomo Minamoto (third shogun) took place under that tree. Today the tree's stump remains along with shoots of young trees from the original gingko, reminding visitors of the cycle of birth and rebirth and the impermanence of all life, even after existing for 800 years.

    The shrine is impressive and the grounds are large. There are two ponds flanking the central entrance to the shrine and many buildings within its precints. There is also a small museum of treasures owned by the shrine.

    The shrine grounds are free. The treasures cost 200 yen to see.

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    Jufukuji Temple

    by Rabbityama Written Jan 2, 2012
    Jufukuji Temple
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    Although you cannot enter Jufukuji Temple, there are still a few reasons to visit. First, the temple was founded by Eisei, the priest who introduced Rinzai Buddhism to Japan as well as the art of tea-drinking. It is also one of Kamakura's Gozan Temples (5 Mountain Temples), so those coming to visit should stop by. The graves of the haiku poet Takahama Kyoshi and the writer Osaragi Jiro are also here.

    The pathway leading to the temple and the temple gate are actually very beautiful. In the autumn it is a popular place to come and see the changing leaves.

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    Hase-dera

    by Rabbityama Written Dec 30, 2011
    Hase-dera's Benten-kutsu Cave
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    Kamakura's Hase-dera was named after and is associated with the Hase-dera Temple of Sakurai in Nara Prefecture. It is said that a priest from that temple carved two statues of Kannon from the same tree and placed one in the temple in Sakurai and the other was dropped in the ocean in hopes that wherever it appeared it would bring peace to the people. That statue was said to have washed up on the shores of Kamakura and so Hase-dera was built. The main hall today was rebuilt in 1992, so it is not old, but temple treasures can be viewed in the Homotsukan.

    Some of the interesting features of the temple include the garden that you see upon entry, the Kannon-do Hall which features a large golden statue of Amida Buddha, the Buddhist swastika-shaped pond, the Kyozo Sutra Archive (in the past visitors could turn it but they recently stopped permitting it), and the Benten-kutsu Cave. It is dedicated to Benzaiten, the only goddess among the Seven Lucky Gods. The cave is very unique and interesting. There are carvings in the rocks of Benzaiten and 16 children. You can donate money and place a tiny wood carving in the cave.

    Entrance to Hase-dera is 300 yen. The Homotsukan (treasure hall) is an additional 100 yen.

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    Great Buddha (Daibutsu)

    by aukahkay Written Apr 22, 2008

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    The Great Buddha of Kamakura is a bronze statue of Amida Buddha that is located on the grounds of the Kotokuin Temple. With a height of 13.35 meters, it is the second largest Buddha statue in Japan (the largest is located in the Todaiji Temple in Nara).
    The statue was cast in 1252 and originally located inside a large temple hall. However, the temple buildings were washed away by a tsunami tidal wave in the end of the 15th century, and since then the Buddha stands in the open air.

    You can enter the Buddha for a small fee of Y10. Don't expect anything inside - it is empty.

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    Hasedera Temple

    by aukahkay Written Apr 22, 2008

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    The Kannon-do Hall of Hasedera
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    The Hasedera Temple is the main temple in the Kamakura area. It has been known as the 4th station among the 33 holy places in the Kanto region. In the Kannon-do Hall is a 9m 11-headed statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy - destined for enlightenment and representing compassion, mercy and love.

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    Hase-dera Temple

    by dancinbudgie Updated Apr 14, 2008

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    I loved walking around the grounds of this temple. They are extremely tranquil and inviting, even with the crowds. The biggest attraction here is the 11 faced Kannon of mercy (pictured below), but I liked the hundreds of little Jizo statues, even though they were a bit saddening, as they represent the souls of miscarried and aborted children. Above the Jizo hall is a bell which was made in 1264, making it the oldest in Kamakura.

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