This post contains affiliate links. Shizen Travel may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on this site at no additional cost to you. Find more details here.
Kamakura is a stunning coastal town about an hour south of Tokyo and is one of the most beloved day trip destinations from Japan’s capital. Famous for its iconic Great Buddha statue, glittering beaches, and ancient temples and shrines, Kamakura is a must-visit spot during your time in Japan.
If I ever feel the need to breathe some fresh air and look at the ocean, Kamakura is my top choice to visit as an easy getaway from Tokyo. This beach town is beautiful year round, but is particularly lovely during the spring for its many cherry blossoms and regularly blue skies.
Particularly if you live in Tokyo or have visited the city a few times, I strongly recommend visiting Kamakura to get a different taste of life in the Kanto Region of Japan. This seaside city has an unbelievable selection of restaurants, boutiques, and ancient temples and shrines, all while being close enough to the ocean to smell the sea air.
In this guide, I’ll share my top recommendations to spend a perfect day in Kamakura.
Combine your trip to Kamakura with a visit to Zushi to make a full day or weekend out of your travels.
What are the best ways to explore Kamakura?
How To Get There
The easiest and fastest way to reach Kamakura is by train. From Shibuya Station, it takes only 1 hour on the Shinjuku-Shonan Line to get to Kamakura Station.
From Kamakura Station, you can walk or take a short bus ride to the various sightseeing places in the city. Most of the main sightseeing destinations are within 10-20 minutes walking distance of each other.
Where To Stay
Most travelers visit Kamakura as a day trip from Tokyo since the cities are so close to each other. However, if you would like to spend the night and make a full getaway of your visit, I recommend one of the following places:
What To Do
One of the great things about Kamakura is that it is very condense and you can easily walk to the main sightseeing attractions. I listed my suggestions below in the order I recommend you visit them (each spot is 10-20 minutes walking from the next one).
The iconic Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha of Kamakura)
Kamakura Daibutsu, otherwise known as the Great Buddha of Kamakura, is arguably the most iconic image of the city and is also one of the most photographed spots in all of Japan. As the second largest statue in the country at 11.3 meters tall, this bronze Buddha towers over observers and worshippers. The Daibutsu was constructed in the 13th century and sits in Kotokuin, a temple belonging to the Jodo Sect of Buddhism. At its core, the Jodo Sect focuses on the liberation of all beings, meaning that it emphasizes the equal importance of people from all backgrounds.
The entrance fee is ¥300 (~USD $2.50).
While you’re at Kokokuin, I suggest checking out the Goshuin window to the right of the Kamakura Daibutsu.
What is a Goshuin?
Visitors line up outside of the window near Kamakura Daibutsu to receive a Goshuin.An example of a Goshuin
“Goshuin” are large stamps handwritten by monks that you can purchase for a few hundred yen at most temples or shrines in Japan. Goshuin are either pasted into or directly drawn on special accordian-style books called “Goshuincho”. You can buy Goshuincho at most temples and shrines as well.
Each Goshuin is full of special symbols and meanings that represent the location where it was obtained. I highly recommend getting a Goshuincho when you visit Japan and buying a Goshuin whenever you visit a temple or shrine. It is a very unique and individualized souvenir to remember your trip by.
Hasedera is a large Buddhist temple in Kamakura best known for its eleven-headed statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The entrance of the complex has a stunning Japanese garden with brightly colored koi fish and in the spring is full of pink and white cherry blossoms.
The entrance fee is ¥400 (~USD $3) and you can pay with either cash, card, or electronic phone payment.
The view from the vantage point of Hasedera
If you are willing to climb several flights of stairs, you will be rewarded with an incredible view of Kamakura and the coast. You can find the staircase to the view pictured above behind the main template area of Hasedera. In my opinion, this view is definitely worth the climb!
Kamakura Yuigahama Beach
Surfers, locals, and visitors alike flock to the beach in Kamakura to enjoy the expansive view and calming waves. You can walk along the beach or take a dip in the summer months. Many people bring picnics and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air as an escape from the bustling city life of Tokyo.
This beach is one of my favorite access points to the ocean near Tokyo. No matter the time of year, it feels amazing to breathe in the salty air and feel like you are somewhere far away in the Pacific.
Komachi-dori Street has many souvenir shops and restaurants.
Komachi-dori Street is a popular shopping area full of restaurants, snack stalls, souvenir shops, and local businesses. You could spend hours combing through the different boutiques and finding incredible souvenirs and gifts to bring home.
This street can get pretty crowded, so try and get here early or on a weekday if you can.
Kamakura Arai sells pottery made in Japan.The interior of Iwazaiwakura Kamakurakomachidoriten
Two stores that I recommend are Kamakura Arai (sells pottery made in Japan) and Iwazaiwakura Kamakurakomachidoriten (large souvenir store). In the ceramics store, everything is ¥600 (~USD$4.5) and made of great quality and with lots of colors. In the souvenir store, you can find a large variety of crystals and Japanese decorative items.
Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū is a famous Shinto shrine at the heart of Kamakura. In addition to Kamakura Daibutsu, this area is probably the most popular destination in the city. The site is approximately a thousand years old and has been expanded and updated over the years. The main shrine is flanked by two ponds and several smaller shrines, including Hataage Benzaiten Shrine (pictured below).
What is Shinto?
Shinto is an ancient Japanese religion and, alongside Buddhism, is one of the two main religions in Japan today. Highly simplified, Shinto is an animistic religion. Adherents believe that gods/supernatural entities (“kami”) exist in everything, including nature such as forests, mountains, and seas.
Hataage Benzaiten Shrine
Hataage Benzaiten Shrine is a small shrine on the right side of the main entrance to Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū. Many people feed birds from the bridge leading to this shrine and it is generally less crowded than the main hall.
Temizuya where worshippers cleanse their hands and mouths before entering the shrine grounds.
What is Temizuya?
Temiyuza is usually near the entrance of a Japanese shrine or temple. It has clear, running water for worshippers to cleanse their hands and mouths before entering the main prayer area.
What To Eat
GELATERIA SANTiプッチェリア べべ カマクラ
Kamakura has an incredible food scene with literally too many amazing options to try. Although the city has a small beach town feel, each of its many streets are packed with delicious restaurants and food stalls. Unlike in Tokyo, Kamakura has many al fresco dining options as well so that you can take advantage of the sunny days and ocean breeze.
This town is a great place to try traditional Japanese snacks and treats, but also has an awesome selection of international cuisines. If you visit for a day trip, I suggest eating at least one meal and one snack here so that you can try as many foods as possible!
Chicken and fish curries from Hase Curry Roza
Like I said, there are simply too many tempting food options in Kamakura, but here are a few of my top picks: