See Kamakura on a day trip from Tokyo and visit rural shrines and temples

Get out of Tokyo and take in some fresh air on a trip out to Kamakura where you can see temples and a giant bronze Buddha

Authored by James, 18th May 2016

Surprisingly close to Tokyo is a dense area of shrines and temples within the rural location of Kamakura, linked by the Kuzuharaoka Daibutsu hiking trail.



Just an hour's train journey from Shibuya is Kamakura, a city in the Kanagawa prefecture. As a city however it feels very different from Tokyo, being far more rural and traditional, and nestled within deeply forested hills. Secreted in the forests lie a huge concentration of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines many of which are over a thousand years old. It's also home to the giant bronze statue of Amida Buddha at Kōtoku-in - the Great Buddha.

This day trip involves a 2 mile hike through the forest on the Kuzuharaoka Daibutsu hiking trail, you will need walking footwear and a bottle of water.

Itinerary

Kita-Kamakura

Take the train from Tokyo (Shibuya is a good starting point) to Kita-Kamakura, which takes about an hour. Buy a return ticket to Kamakura though, as you'll be returning from the main station.

Get off the train at Kita-Kamakura - once you're at this small station and the train pulls out, you'll feel like there won't be another one for a week. Leave the station, and continue walking down the road in the same direction as the train went, you'll find a map on the left. It's worth taking a picture of this map, as it shows the footpath you'll use later to cross the hill. From this map you can continue down the road to the Engaku-ji buddhist temple and spend an hour exploring this amazing area.

Engaku-ji Temple

Engaku-ji Temple

Return to the station and cross the tracks to the other side of the station, then continue to the main road. Follow the main road to the left, and walk about 300 meters until you see a Family Mart combini on the right. Handy to stock up on water and onigiri for lunch.

Crossing the tracks

Crossing the tracks

Another 50 yards down the road is a small road or track on the right, signposted to the Jōchi-ji temple. This is a stunning temple with lots of gardens to explore, even a little tunnel through the hill.

Once you've seen Jōchi-ji, leave by the main entrance and turn right, continuing up the hill. This is the start of the walk over the hill following the Kuzuharaoka Daibutsu hiking trail, and is about two miles over mostly good paths, steps and occasional tree roots and scrambly bits. There's a little picnic spot at the top of the hill with views.

Sign posts on the hike over the hill

Sign posts on the hike over the hill

Continue following the path until it begins to lead downhill, and turns into sets of steps leading down to civilisation. You're heading towards Kōtoku-in. The hiking train will finish at a busy main road, which you can follow downhill for about 300 meters to the entrance to Kōtoku-in on your left. You won't miss it because there will probably be hundreds of other tourists here! This is where the Great Buddha of Kamakura resides, and you'll want to spend some time exploring the temple and the areas around the Great Buddha.

Afterwards you should head for Kamakura. You can catch a bus from right outside Kōtoku-in, next to the souvenir shop. It's about 7 stops, ¥190. You could also walk for a mile and a half along the main road - check the map.

In Kamakura, the area north of the bus station has lots of little streets with Japanese restaurants, perfect for a late lunch.

Then take the train from Kamakura station back to Tokyo.