If you are travelling in Japan and want to learn more about the history of this diverse-culture country, the ancient capital of Kamakura is a destination you should not ignore.
Kamakura is located in the western Miura peninsula, in Kanagawa Province. This city was founded in 1939, but its name Kamakura has existed for a very long time. Surrounded by three sides of mountains, south of the coastline, this small city is the place where gathered most of political power in Japan within 140 years after the shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-1199) established the shogunate Kamakura here about 800 years ago. It’s the reason why this city owns numerous historical relics, temples and shrines. Today, Kamakura has developed into a flourishing center of religion and art, and is well-known as “The second Kyoto in the Eastern Japan”.
It can be seen that Kamakura still preserved ancient feudal principles, in addition to its convenient location just 1 hour from Tokyo by train that make up a perfect destination for foreign tourists. With a rich nature and history, Kamakura brings visitors a chance to discover the endless beauty of Japan.
Visit Kamkura to see firsthand the achievements of cultural relics of ancient history. You will feel overwhelmed by the beauty transcending the time here and explore the glamorous cuisine here.
The Great Buddha (Daibutsu)
Among many famous tourist attractions in Kamakura, it’s indispensable to mention the giant Buddha statue, known as the Great Buddha (Daibutsu). This is the symbol and the pride of Kamakura. The statue is not only famous for its magnitude but also the shape, the sitting posture of Buddha is created very gracefully.
This bronze statue lies at Kotokuin Temple, is covered with moss-green color of thousand years, sits majestically on a wide shelf and looks millions of tourists visiting Kamakura with merciful eyes . In the past, Daibutsu was originally carved from wood in 1243 but after a storm in 1247, was recasted with bronze in 1252. The statue is 13.35m in height with nearly 2m long ears. With a weight of 120 tons, the Great Buddha is the only one in Kamakura recognized as a national treasure.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
This is an ancient temple which attracts both local and foreign tourists. It was rebuilt by Yorimoto and is considered a political center in ancient era. In the heyday of Kamakura, it is the important agency of Japan’s government. Today, many historical festivals and exciting events are regularly organized in this temple such as “Kamakura Spring Festival”.
The landscape of this land is very beautiful with flowers blooming during four seasons per year, spring with cherry, summer with fragrant lotus and red leafy autumn.
Visitors can also experience many interesting things here beside sightseeing: the feeling in the horseback and trying archery, enjoying sacred traditional dances… Two paths to the shrine, Wakamiya Oji and Komachi Dori, are adorned with shops pregnanting with ancient Japanese culture.
This is a temple located near the Great Buddha Statue. From the temple, you can grab an overview of the stunning ocean.
The main feature at Kamakura’s Hasedera (also known as Hase Kannon) is undoubtedly the 11-faced statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy and compassion. Over 9 metres (30 feet) tall, it was carved in 721 out of a single camphor tree.
Hase Temple is also a famous address to watch Ajisai flowers (hydrangeas). In every June, one corner of the temple will be filled with romantic violet of Ajisai. In late fall, you can watch the beautiful red leaves at night.
Kenchoji is the oldest Zen temple in Japan. The Sanmon Gate (main gate), Butsuden (Buddhist temple), and other important buildings are arranged in a single row, matching the Zen tradition. This architecture reminds us of Buddhist architectural works of China in Song Dynasty (960-1279).
On the temple grounds, many important historical sites are preserved, among them, some relics are recognized as national heritages, such as the bell from the thirteenth century.
North of Kenchoji is Engakuji, another big Zen temple. Located in an area of 60,000 square meters and is surrounded by a deep valley, temple is famous for several buildings reflecting the spirit of Zen Buddhism, including Shariden shrine, a national treasure, and Butsunichian, the tomb of a famous samurai who has appeared in numerous immortal works of Japanese literature.
This is a suitable temple for those who need to relax in a quiet place and escape from the bustling city. In the temple, there are a large bamboo garden, so it’s also called Bamboo Temple. Walking in the bamboo forest and listening to bamboo leaves whispering in the wind will give you the feeling of peace and comfort.
From Kamakura station about 25 minutes away, visitors will arrive at a tourist paradise with excellent beauty of Kamakura’s nature. It’s a romantic island, Enoshima.
Enoshima is an island located in the estuary of Katase river which flows into Sagami Bay in Japan, with small tidal and about 4km perimeter. Today, the island is connected to the mainland by two bridges of 600 meters long. Especially, during low tide, you can walk to the island on the sand exposing when the water recedes.
Kamakura is surrounded by the ocean in the south and by wooded hills in all other directions. Hiking trails are attractive tourists which lead through the forests along these hills and connect various atmospheric temples. They are a great way to discover Kamakura’s sights.