Many may think that the best temples in Japan only exist in Kyoto, famous for 金閣寺(Kinkakuji) and 銀閣寺(Ginkakuji), but there’s another great spot in Eastern Japan that holds one of the most beautiful historic monuments: Kamakura. With its beautiful shrines, temples, and the Great Buddha, the city has numerous attractions that’ll keep you busy for many days to come.
However, that’s not only it.
The city even has a popular beach that attracts many surfers from the whole nation, called the 由比ヶ浜(Yuigahama), creating an exciting atmosphere running throughout the city. I’ve taken my time to learn the best parts of it, so let me introduce what you shouldn’t miss!
Historically, Japan had numerous military governments, that held a separate identity from the regular imperial government, called the Bakufu. Kamakura was the birthplace of this type of system, with the beginning of the Kamakura Bakufu, becoming the political capital in the 12th century. The warrior who created this military government was Minamoto no Yoritomo, who was appointed as shogun (a Japanese warlord) in 1192. Kamakura’s government held reign over Japan for more than a century, being succeeded by the Hojo regents midway, until the party moved to Kyoto in the 14th century.
During the reign of Kamakura, the city saw many beautiful temples and monuments being built, most correlated with the religion that was predominantly respected at the period.
Let’s take a look at where I’ve visited, and the spots I’d like to recommend for you!
Hokokuji Temple （報国寺）
Also known as Takedara, Hokokuji was founded in the earlier periods of Muromachi’s control, and was a small family temple of the Ashikaga Clan at the time. From the temples I’ve visited in Japan, this was one of my favorites, as it had a very distinct feature of its own, the bamboo trees that surround its vicinity around the temple. It was a beauty that wouldn’t be able to be expressed by words, but I hope the photo above is enough to make my point. The temple also offers freshly made traditional green tea to drink inside, so be sure to have some when you visit!
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine （鶴岡八幡宮）
Considered to be one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan, this is another popular spot to visit while you’re in town. This was dedicated to the patron god of the Minamoto family, hence becoming one of the most valuable sites in Kamakura. Being very large with wide spaces, I recommend you go there and take your time to check out the smaller spaces in between popular sites, as you may find very interesting historical sites that many miss out!
Komachi Street （小町通り）
The Main Street that Kamakura is most famous for, the Komachi Street would be a gourmet’s favorite. Along with Japanese cultural products such as the Fuurin from the photo above, it offers a diverse range of Japanese cuisine and sweets such as the Omochis and traditional Wagashis.
Yuigahama Beach （由比ヶ浜）
The city is beautiful with its vast amount of nature spreading through the city, but it also has another face: the Yuigahama Beach. Inviting many surfers visiting to enjoy the fresh waves, Kamakura is famous for the spacious seaside during the summer. That is what’s very fascinating about the town, it has something for everyone!
Lunch of the Day
Good Mellows Kamakura
A lunch in the seaside always has to be a hamburger! Good Mellows in Kamakura is often considered to be one of the best in the area, with the restaurant having a ‘summer-house’ feel to it with the outdoor terrace allowing you to feel the breeze and listen to the waves. If you’re contemplating where to eat, this will be a great choice!
Ready to Visit?
I hope I was able to make you interested in visiting this beautiful city. I forgot to mention, it’s only 1 hour from central Tokyo by train, so there’s no reason you should make that your excuse! With the combination of history and beach, Kamakura is a must visit in your Japan travel checklist.