Jiji (my 83-year old father-in-law) and I headed to Kamakura for a quick day trip on a lovely autumn day. Jiji had not been to Kamakura in over ten years, I seem to go in two-year cycles. Kamakura is the type of place though that you never tire. Each season offers a different experience, and there are so many temples, stores, restaurants and also the beach to enjoy. Today our goal was to see four temples and have a relaxing lunch. We had a very nice four-hour tour, and Jiji slept like a baby on the train back to Tokyo.
Day Trip to Kamakura
We took the Shonan express from Ebisu station and arrived at Kamakura station in under an hour. From Kamakura, we jumped on the Enoden Enoshima train to Hase station (two stations). The walk to the Daibutsu is clearly marked, or you can just follow the path of visitors up the street about ten mins.
The Daibutsu is always impressive at 11.4M tall and solid bronze. The Daibutsu’s face always puts me at ease, as if saying “welcome back.” Jiji and I ventured in the dark hole in the back of the Daibutsu to see how it was constructed from the inside out. Fascinating that the Buddha built in 1252 stands so strong still despite earthquakes and the wooden surrounding structure having been washed away in a Tsunami. This is one strong Daibutsu with a very kind face. I hope you feel the same.
When you depart the Daibutsu ground through the original entry, look to your left across the street, where you will see a store with a yellow awning and a picture of a pigeon. This is the Sabure cookie store (their headquarters are in Kamakura and this year is the company’s 120th of business). I can tell you my kids love these cookies and the tins they come in if you buy 20 or 40 is adorable. Highly recommend trying one of these light sugar cookies.
As you head back to Hase station, you will pass many cute Japanese and craft stores. Here are just a few I love.
Next stop Hasedera Temple about 100 meters before Hase station. I highly recommend this temple for the beautiful garden, stately Kannon and panoramic view of Kamakura bay. This temple is built on the side of a mountain thus has a lot of stairs which Jiji climbed more quickly than me. There is also an interesting cave that has Buddhas carved into the walls – kids will love it, however, it was quite difficult for Jiji to navigate in the dark lower pathways – be careful. The Hase Kannon, which is 9M and covered in gold, is located in the main temple building. The story behind the Kannon is that two were made in Nara in 721 AD, and one was kept in Nara, the other thrown into the sea in Osaka. Fifteen years later the Kannon was found washed up on the shores near Kamakura and moved to Hasedera. This temple has beautiful gardens with delightful Buddha statues of all shapes and sizes. A delightful temple to spend an hour or so.
Day Trip to Kamakura
After Viewing the Daibutsu and Hasedera Temple we took the train back to Kamakura stations and had a nice lunch of soba and tempura to recharge our batteries. If you walk from Kamakura station to Tsurugaoka Hachiman-go, you will walk up the Komachi shopping street which has plenty of restaurants, sweet and shopping. Along Komachi Street, you will also find Rickshaw drivers who can take you for 30 min to a few hours around Kamakura. Jiji had not been in a rickshaw since a child, so we took one for a spin. Great fun for both of us!
Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Temple is said to be Kamakura’s most important temple found over 1,000 years ago. It is an impressive temple on top of a very large staircase. Jiji told me the story of the famous assassination that took place at the temple. Read up on your history to appreciate this temple. This temple can be very crowded with school students so try to go early or late in the day.
After visiting Hachiman-gu, we were a bit tired of walking to jumped in a taxi (8 mins) for a final stop at Hokokuji Temple, which is not to be missed. Jiji and I both felt this was the best stop of the day. This temple is known as the “Bamboo Temple” due to the magnificent bamboo. It also has beautiful and soothing gardens to view. You can jump on a bus back to the stations that come by each 5-10 mins. Overall a great day with Jiji! If you are looking for other great one day trips from Tokyo, I recommend Kawagowe “Little Edo”.
Day Trip to Kamakura
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