A Day Trip to Kamakura, Japan

When Amie and I were plotting out our trip to Japan, a colleague mentioned that we *had* to go to Kamakura to see the Great Buddha. Kamakura is a seaside town south of Tokyo, and after a bit more research, we discovered we could easily get there on the train with our Japan Rail Passes. So on day three in Tokyo, we woke up and the sun was shining, so we said, ‘Let’s go meet the big Buddha!’Decades ago, Kamakura was the political center of medieval Japan. Current day Kamakura is an adorable seaside town with numerous of Buddhist Zen temples and Shinto shrines.Kamakura was an easy hop, skip and a jump from Tokyo. We strolled to Shinjuku Station from our hotel, got on the Shonan-Shinjuku Line and rode the train south for about an hour. We got off at Kamakura Station, only to find that we had been transported to a completely different world! Although we discovered right away that adoration for the color pink is not limited to Tokyo!The first spot we hit up in Kamakura was Kōtoku-in, a tranquil temple and home to The Great Buddha of Kamakura.The Great Buddha is a gargantuan bronze statue of Amitābha, which is now one of the most famous icons of Japan. This guy is considered a national treasure, and was recently put fourth for review for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.Up close, he was awe inspiring and zen, and we took about ten million photos to commemorate our visit.Okay, just one more because how cute is this little chicky??Next up, we took a temple break and had our first ice creams of the trip!We both got matcha-vanilla swirl which was sweet, sweet perfection. Next up, Amie and I did a bit of back tracking and walked towards Kamakura Station. En route, we stopped at Hasedera, or in English, Hase Temple.This temple sits on a mountainside, and has beautiful views of Kamakura and the sea.The temple was a sight to behold, with stark detail, a gently curved roof, cusped windows, and paneled doors.
In addition to a gorgeous temple and view, there are more than 2,500 hydrangea trees and flowers on the grounds!Which Amie and I took full advantage of!We had a good chuckle when we saw this sign (below). Maybe we should have been scared? Apparently these large birds of prey are known for swoopping down and injuring tourists! Beware of the kites at Kamakura!From Hase Temple, we walked to the train station and hopped on a bus to our last attraction of the day: Hokokuji.And while Hokokuji has an adorable little temple, the real draws are the dense surrounding bamboo groves and tea house.How breathtaking are these sky views?!I stumbled on the walking path numerous times, because my eyes could not stop drifting to the sky (which was slightly detrimental for my feet!) I hate to end the post on a downer, especially after such an AWESOME day . . . but for our last stop in Kamakura, Amie and I decided to have lunch at Cafe Dining Bowls. We took the bus back into the town center, admittedly getting pretty hangry. We then walked six BIG blocks to the restaurant, only to find they had gone out of business!

Starving and hopeless, we walked into the next eatery we saw, which was a greasy hole-in-the-wall where we got over charged and under served. It wasn’t our finest Japanese dining experience, but after so much walking it felt great to chow down on some warm (greasy) nosh before hopping back on the train to Tokyo.

Can’t wait to tell you all about our early evening in Harajuku next!

xo Ali

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