Top Things to Do on a Day Trip to Kamakura from Tokyo
Thanks to its efficient public transport system, planning a day trip in Japan can be quite easy, even at the last minute. One of the most popular destinations for a day trip from Tokyo is Kamakura, a city known for numerous temples and shrines, delicious food, and beaches. Whatever your interests, check out this quick sightseeing guide to Kamakura, filled with some ideas to fill up your travel itinerary!
Sep 14 2018 (Sep 09 2020)
How to Get to Kamakura
The easiest way to get to Kamakura from central Tokyo is by train. Get on either the JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line towards Zushi from Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, or Shibuya Station, or the JR Yokosuka Line towards Zushi from Tokyo or Shinagawa Stations. Both lines will take you straight to Kamakura Station, with no need to transfer. It is around an hour's journey from the above stations.
Depending on where you plan to go once you are in Kamakura, the Kamakura Free Kankyo Tegata may be a convenient option. Costing just 570 yen, it is a cheap one-day pass that allows you unlimited access to buses and the Enoden train line (within a restricted area). You can even get a discount on some of the sightseeing spots around Kamakura, so it's worth checking out!
To see what other discount passes you can use in Kamakura, as well as the train fares and timetables, check out Edoden's official website.
Sightseeing Spots to Visit in the Morning
The morning is a good time to visit the multitude of temples and shrines of Kamakura, as they tend to be less crowded then. You can also appreciate the finer details of the structures in the daylight! Here are some temples that you might want to visit to start off your sightseeing tour of Kamakura.
Admire the Great Buddha at Kotoku Temple
Measuring 11.3m in height, the Great Buddha of Kotoku Temple (Kotoku-in) is a symbol of Kamakura. You can even go inside the temple to have a look! If you want to get a photo of the Great Buddha without a swarm of people around, you should go early in the morning. The grounds open at 8:00 am.
Make sure to check out the gigantic, 1.8m long warazori (traditional Japanese straw sandals) they have on display, too. They were woven with the wish that the Great Buddha would use them to walk across Japan, bringing happiness to the country that was then recovering from the aftermath of World War II.
Take in the Beauty of the Bamboo Garden of Hokoku Temple
Hokoku Temple (Hokoku-ji) is located on the opposite side of Kamakura Station from Kotoku Temple, so you will have to either take two buses or take one and walk part of the way. This temple is popular among tourists for its beautiful Japanese bamboo garden.
You can enjoy a cup of matcha (powdered green tea) and a small Japanese sweet as you admire the mystical view created by the bamboo stalks.
Purchase a ticket for the matcha at the entrance when paying the entrance fee.
Fall in Love with Kamakura's Oldest Temple, Sugimoto Temple!
Walk 5 minutes from Hokoku Temple and you'll eventually see Sugimoto Temple (Sugimoto-dera) at the end of some green mossy steps. These steps are not in use today in order to avoid accidents, but they make for a great photo! Although the temple was destroyed and rebuilt several times, it is considered to be the oldest temple in Kamakura, having been built in 734.
The photo above shows one of the two warrior sculptures at the Nio Gate on the temple grounds.
Other points of interest include the three sitting statues of Kannon in the Main Hall, which are designated as Important Cultural Assets of Japan, as well as a collection of small, five-tiered stone stupas that were constructed to commemorate the lives of the samurai who perished in a battle in 1337.
If these temples aren't really grabbing you, check out the article below for some other options!
Lunch and Dessert Options
Exploring temples is a lot of work, so don't skip out on planning your meals! Kamakura has so many options when it comes to dining, but perhaps the following places can help narrow down your choices. Try something that you can't find anywhere else in Japan!
Try Out All the Street Food on Komachi Street
One of the best things to do in Kamakura is to enjoy the various street foods sold along Komachi Street (Komachi-dori), located near Kamakura Station. You can find anything from standard street food fare, such as butaman (pork dumpling) and crepes, to more unusal food like sesame cubes, purple yam croquettes, and gold-leaf ice cream.
The above photo shows Hannari Inari's Mille-feuille of Whitebait and Salmon Roe (950 yen each).
The perfect sweet treat to have at the end of your lunch, the dango (dumplings made from glutinous rice flour) from Sakuranoyumemiya is both photogenic and delicious.
With all this food to try, you might be better served by a having local show you around, lest you become lost. You can actually Join this half-day Kamakura Walking Tour to do food tastings and learn about the culture of Kamakura while walking with a knowledgeable guide. During this tour, you'll explore Kamakura's must-see spots over three hours learning about its history, insight into manners at Japanese shrines, great photo opportunities in nature, and more!
Sample Kamakura's Specialty, Whitebait, at Kirakumaru
Kirakumaru is a restaurant located by the ocean, and is popular for serving dishes with fresh whitebait, caught locally. It is a 26-minute walk from Kamakura Station, but there are buses and trains available too.
Whitebait ("shirasu" in Japanese) is a specialty of Kamakura, so do give it a try! Don't worry if you don't feel up to trying raw whitebait, as they also have dishes with cooked whitebait.
Take a Breather at One of the Cafes Around Gokuraku Temple
The area surrounding Gokuraku Temple (Gokuraku-ji) is filled with chic cafes, so it's a perfect spot to visit for a sweet treat after your lunch in Kirakumaru.
Enjoy teatime at Fukubiyori Cafe! They offer delicious treats like the above photo at super affordable prices.
Do you love fluffy pancakes? The ones at Sakanoshita are particularly famous, having even appeared in a popular Japanese drama!
For more ideas on where to go for teatime or a quick break in Kamakura, check out the article below!
Sightseeing Spots to Visit in the Afternoon
After you've stuffed yourself with all the yummy food that Kamakura has to offer, you're probably going to want to take your time exploring a couple more spots before heading back to Tokyo. Here are some options! You may not have time to visit all three spots, so pick what you'd like to do on the day.
Shop 'til You Drop on Yuigahama Street
Yuigahama Street (Yuigahama-dori) stretches from just beyond Onari Street to the west of Kamakura Station and towards Kotoku Temple. It is packed with shops that are full of unique character.
You can find anything there - clothes, interior decorations, snack shops, art galleries, cafes, restaurants, and more!
We recommend shopping for souvenirs while you're there. If you're not sure what you should buy, check out the below article for some ideas!
Shake Hands with Dolphins at Enoshima Aquarium
If shopping really isn't your thing, why not spend the afternoon at Enoshima Aquarium? It's a little bit of a trek from Kamakura, but with the ocean as the backdrop, this beautiful aquarium is worth the trip.
Their dolphin show is on 4 times a day, including 2 afternoon performances. You can also "shake hands" with a dolphin at 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm (additional fee required).
Other highlights of the aquarium include sea turtles, penguins, otters, and even capybaras!
Watch the Sunset from Cape Inamura
It's hard to think of a better way to end your day in Kamakura than watching the sunset from Cape Inamura (Inamura-gasaki). Situated on the way back from Enoshima Aquarium, Cape Inamura is just over 10 minutes on the train from Kamakura Station.
Enjoy a sunset like no other, with a gorgeous view of Mt. Fuji.
As you can see, there are so many different things to do in Kamakura, from immersing yourself in its traditional culture and history at temples, to enjoying the modern and trendy side of the city and admiring the natural views. Hopefully, this article has provided some inspiration for your day trip!
If you want to see what else you can do in Kamakura, check out the article below!
Also, if you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our Facebook, Twitter, or tell us through this Google Form!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.