Ancient shrines and temples — even a giant Buddha statue — connected by hiking trails. A seaside town with good food, artsy boutiques, and hip cafes. Sandy shores and the occasional wave, plus fireworks and beach shacks in summer. Kamakura has ALOT going for it. No wonder it ‘s one of Tokyo’s most popular day trips.
Video guide to Kamakura
Kamakura: Why visit?
A long-ago political capital alongside Nara and Kyoto, Kamakura is a great place to get your taste of ancient Japan if you can’t reach Kansai.
Where is Kamakura?Kanagawa Prefecture
About an hour south of Tokyo
Kamakura is a destination on the Shōnan Coast, south of Tokyo and Yokohama and on the shores of Sagami Bay. It’s easy to reach by train from either city — one reason it’s such a popular daytrip.
Getting to KamakuraJR lines to Kamakura Station
Depending on your departure station, getting down to Kamakura from Tokyo takes about an hour and costs between ¥670 and ¥950 one-way. Both JR Shōnan–Shinjuku and JR Yokosuka line trains can take you there direct.
Cheapo tip: If you’re traveling from Shibuya Station, rather than the JR Shōnan–Shinjuku Line, you can save a few yen by taking the Tōyoko Line to Yokohama Station, and then changing to the JR Yokosuka Line towards Kamakura.
You can also get to Kamakura via the local Enoden Line that runs between Kamakura and Enoshima, in which case you can make use of the Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass.
What rail passes cover travel to Kamakura?
You can use the JR Pass, the Tokyo Wide Pass, or any JR East regional rail pass to travel to Kamakura by JR lines. However, since getting to Kamakura from Tokyo doesn’t cost much, we don’t recommend using a pass. Unless maybe you’ve got an extra day to use up.
The Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass1-day pass
Odakyu Line from Shinjuku (or Fujisawa) to Katase-Enoshima and the local Enoden Line
¥810 from Fujisawa; ¥1,640 from Shinjuku
This pass won’t take you all over Kamakura (it does not include local buses), but it is convenient if you are planning on a day trip to Enoshima with a little bit of Kamakura thrown in. Whether you choose the digital or physical pass, both can take you on one round-trip journey from Tokyo using Odakyu Lines to Fujisawa Station — this is only worth it if you are coming from Shinjuku Station. It’s worth noting that you’ll need to pay extra if getting on the faster, fancier train: the Romancecar.
At Fujisawa Station, you’ll have to change to get to Katase-Enoshima. You can take as many trains as you want between Fujisawa and Katase-Enoshima, as well as on the Enoden to Kamakura and back. You can also get discounts on local attractions, including Hasedera Temple.
Tours from Tokyo to Kamakura
Kamakura can be an easy place to get lost in — which is half the fun. However, if you’d like to save time then it’s worth jumping on a tour. You can combine Enoshima and Kamakura in one day with this tour for around ¥8,000, which includes transport from Tokyo and a few iconic anime spots.
If you’d like an air-conditioned bus and a guaranteed English-speaking guide then there’s also this tour from Viator for ¥9,000.
How to get around Kamakura
Kamakura is so lovely that even the transport is part of the experience. There are plenty of buses as well as the JR line, so if you don’t fancy walking, you will still be able to see plenty of sights!
The Enoden Line (The Enoshima Electric Line)
The Enoden Electric Railway was founded on Christmas Day in 1900 and has kept every inch of its old-fashioned charm. Popular in anime, manga, and TV dramas, it adds a touch of nostalgia — be it from childhood stories or local old-school trams.
Tickets can be bought from vending machines. If you are unable to buy one in time, you can also use IC touch transport cards or contactless credit cards.
Local Kamakura buses
You may have to use a bus to reach the more difficult areas of Kamakura, including the north and east. For general bus tickets, take a numbered ticket as you board and then simply pay the amount signified on the board above the exit in exact cash when you leave. You can also go contactless and touch your IC card in and out.
Kamakura Free Environment Bill1-day pass
Kamakura buses and Enoden train till Hase Station
While having a slightly funny-sounding name, this pass does allow you unlimited access to the Enoden Bus and Keikyu Bus routes around Kamakura, as well as the Enoden train line from Kamakura until Hase Station only. You can pick it up at the Enoden Kamakura Station or Hase Station.
You can also opt for only unlimited Enoden Bus rides for ¥600 — this ticket can also be bought online here (Japanese only).
If you just want unlimited rides on the Enoden train all day — including to Enoshima and Fujisawa Station — then you can opt for an Enoden hop-on, hop-off ticket for ¥800.
Top things to do in Kamakura
Kamakura is most famous as the home of one of Japan’s great Daibutsu — or Great Buddha — statues. It’s also generally known for its temples, which include many Zen temples, as well as some truly old and atmospheric ones.
Thanks to its hilly location, Kamakura is also a great destination for hiking. A real bonus is that you can take some trails between sights. There are also some lovely beaches, as well as shops in town.
Things to do in Kamakura: Temples
Ok, so there are plenty of temples and shrines to choose from, but these are some of the loveliest! We have divided them by the nearest station to help with planning. If you are arriving at Kamakura Station from Tokyo, we suggest you first stop at the temples in northern Kamakura (you can get off a station before at Kita-Kamakura Station), then either walk the Daibutsu Trail (60–90 minutes) or catch the Enoden train from Kamakura Station to the temples in the south-west (near Hase Station). There are plenty of ways to do it, so choose your own adventure!
Explore the forests of Engakuji Temple2-minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station
Engakuji Temple was built in 1282 to console the souls of the fallen soldiers following the second invasion attempt by the Mongols and is one of the leading Zen temples in Japan.
It stands surrounded by impressive sloping cedar forests and has a series of stunning structures leading to the main hall (the Butsuden) which houses a wooden statue of the Shaka Buddha. Beyond the hall is the Shariden; a hall which enshrines the tooth of Buddha and can only be seen from a distance for the majority of the year. There is a particularly beautiful spot by the large bell — with a tea house where you can try traditional tea and sweets. It is particularly popular in autumn as it is surrounded by beautiful red leaves which peak in early December.
Admire the gardens and grounds of Tōkeiji Temple and Jōchi-ji Temple5-minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station
¥200 for each temple
Tōkeiji was once known as the “Divorce Temple” as it offered refuge to women escaping abusive husbands and mother-in-laws before women could initiate divorce. The former nunnery (now a monastery) is the only remaining one of the original network of five called the Amagozan. As well as being known for its pyramidal roof, it has particularly beautiful gardens with a wide variety of flowers that blossom throughout the year.
Jōchi-ji Temple is right next door and nestled in a hillside cedar forest. Although it was badly damaged in the Great Kanto Earthquake, you can still see the three surviving wooden statues of the Buddhas of Past, Present, and Future which have been designated as important cultural assets. Follow the moss-covered stairs to the beautiful bell tower and explore the grounds.
Marvel at the Great Daibutsu at Kotoku-in10-minute walk from Hase Station (Enoden) or 8-minute bus from Kamakura Station
Originally housed in a temple hall, the impressive 93-ton Amida Buddha has been out in the open air for over 500 years, sitting tall at just over 13 meters. One of the most famous icons of Japan, the bronze Buddha is only out-sized by its counterpart in Nara but is still stunning.
The original statue was wooden and destroyed in a storm a few years after being finished in 1243. Its bronze replacement was funded and finally finished ten years later, with three halls being destroyed around it over the years. Once upon a time, the statue was gilded, and you can still see flecks of gold around the ears, and against the bright blue skies, it makes for a very pretty picture indeed.
Great Buddha of Kamakura
Explore the many mysteries of Hasedera Temple5-minute walk from Hase Station (Enoden) or 11-minute bus from Kamakura Station
This Jodo-sect temple is home to Japan’s tallest wooden statue: the 11-headed Kannon Goddess of Mercy and is known for its tree-guarded entrance.
Standing 9 meters tall and gilded, the Kannon is an impressive sight and was supposedly originally carved from the same tree as the similar statue in Nara’s Hasedera Temple. The statue is housed in the main hall, and the surrounding grounds are beautiful. The Kannon Museum is next door where you can see treasures such as temple bells, statues, and scrolls (entry is an additional ¥300). There is also a wooden bookcase which, if rotated, promises to give you knowledge of all the texts within.
Built on the slope of a wooded hill, the temple has a wooden terrace that offers amazing views of Kamakura. The temple entrance is at the bottom of the slope with a pretty, traditional garden, complete with ponds and a small temple hall and cave with dozens of statues dedicated to the Goddess of Health and Beauty, the Goddess of Music, and many fearsome protectors of Buddha.
Follow the path to Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Shrine10-minute walk from Kamakura Station (East Exit)
After visiting the temples in the southwest, you can head back to Kamakura Station on the Enoden Line and see the most important shrine in Kamakura: the Tsurugaoka Hachimangū. It’s not hard to miss; with a cherry blossom-lined pathway leading through the city center, you will be led straight to its gate.
You may notice two ponds on either side of the entrance: the left pond with three islands represents the Minamoto clan while the other represents their arch enemies, the Taira clan with four islands (four sounding like death in Japanese). The temple was founded in 1063 before being modified and moved to its current site in 1180 by the founder and first shogun of the Kamakura government, Minamoto Yoritomo. Dedicated to Hachiman, the family’s patron god, the shrine grounds feature a stage, a main hall with a terrace, a museum, and a secondary shrine.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Shrine
Relax in Hōkokuji Temple (aka Bamboo Temple)12-minute bus from Kamakura Station
This small and unassuming temple of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism may seem average on first impressions, but it has a secret. Beyond the simple gate and just behind the modest main hall lies a beautiful bamboo grove, with a forest of over 2000 stalks surrounding the picturesque tea house nestled in the grounds of the temple.
Traditional matcha and sweets can be tried for ¥600 (incl. entrance) in the teahouse. Although this temple is slightly out of the way from others, it can be a great place to take a breather and escape the crowds! It takes about 20 minutes from the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, and you can catch a bus back to the station after.
Things to do in Kamakura: Shopping
Komachi Street is a major shopping street in central Kamakura, filled with souvenirs, treats, and restaurants — perfect after a day of exploring the shrines and temples.
You’ll have no trouble finding it either, with the large red torii gate to your left when you leave Kamakura Station, you can follow the street straight up to Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine. Started as a market at the shrine, it now expands with myriad side streets and alleys, all offering local food and products
Things to do in Kamakura: Hiking trails
With this many temples, shrines, mountains, and valleys all so close together, it would be a shame not to make the most of them and explore the wild side of Kamakura. There are three main sections you can hike, depending on what you prefer to see and how much time you have in town. This includes the Daibutsu Hiking Trail we mentioned above. We outline all of them in our handy hiking in Kamakura article.
Things to do in Kamakura: Beaches
Yuigahama and Zaimokuza are two of Kamakura’s most popular sandy beaches and can be enjoyed by sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers alike! Since they are some of the closest to Tokyo and Yokohama, they do get very busy during beach season (July to August); there will be a lot of people on the 1 km stretch of sand. There are plenty of cafes, shops, and rental spots for swimming gear too!
Not too far away is Enoshima, a holiday island with some of the closest beaches to Tokyo as well as shrines, aquariums, and even caves. It has so much to offer we gave it its own guide!
While Kamakura has plenty to keep you busy on a regular day, it is never better than during a festival. The streets are lined with stalls, busy crowds, and great displays.
- January: Chona-hajimeshiki (a festival to celebrate the beginning of the working year for local construction workers who use traditional tools for the ceremony at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine).
- April: Kamakura Festival (a week of events celebrating the city and its history).
- May: Kusajishi (archers in samurai outfits fire arrows at straw deer while reciting old poems at the Kamakura Shrine).
- June: There will be many temples celebrating hydrangeas throughout the month.
- July or August: Kamakura Fireworks (an hour-long fireworks display at Yuigihama Beach).
- September: Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Grand Festival (a famous festival featuring yabusame, horseback archery).
Accommodation in Kamakura
Kanagawa Prefecture has plenty to see and has three main Tokyo day trips — Hakone, Kamakura, and Enoshima — within its borders. While Hakone can be a tad expensive and Enoshima has limited accommodation choices, Kamakura is just right. Kamakura has budget hotels that start from ¥8,000 a night, such as Gen Hotel Kamakura, as well as swankier options like the evergreen Kamakura Seizan.
This post was originally published in April 2017 and last updated in May 2023. While we try to ensure that all information is correct, dates and other details may vary.