WHEN TO GO
- Kamakura is just over an hour by train from Tokyo, and has nice temples and beach, so it tends to fill up on weekends and holidays.
- On January 4 at 1 pm a festival is held at Hachiman-gu that attracts almost two million visitors a year.
- Between the second and the third week of April the big week of the city, Kamakura Matsuri, is celebrated with all kinds of events, parades and processions.
- On May 5 there is a demonstration of archery with weapons and samurai attire.
- On August 10 there is a full fireworks hour at Yuigahama Beach.
- From September 14 to 16, another great festival is held in Hachiman-gu, known as Yabusame, a demonstration of archery riding on backwards on a horse, wearing the samurai attire.
How to get there:
- Kamakura does not have an airport, the closest is Tokyo Narita.
- Most visitors arrive at Kamakura Central Station or at the previous Kita-Kamakura by train:
- Using the Japan Rail Pass. From Tokyo it takes approximately 1 hour to arrive. In case of not having it, the rate is ¥ 940 one way. From Yokohama it costs 340 ¥ and it only takes 25 minutes.
- Or we can use another private rail line, the Odakyū Enoshima / Kamakura Free Pass. Valid for 24 hours, it leaves Shinjuku and reaches Fujisawa (¥ 1470), where we can use the Enoden local network. The total time to arrive with this option is 90 minutes.
How to get around: the main attractions are concentrated in four areas:
- Near Hase station, to the southwest, is the Big Buddha and Hasedera temple. This station does not belong to the Japan Rail but to the private company Enoden Railways, therefore the JRP can not be used, but there is a combined pass called JR Kamakura – Enoshima pass (not to be confused with the Odakyu pass of the same name) that allows to use all trains in the area for 700 ¥ during 24 hours; a simple ticket costs 190 ¥. It takes approximately 25 minutes to walk from Kamakura Station. At the east exit of the same, buses 1 and 6 go in that direction (190 ¥).
- Kencho-ji and Hachiman-gu are about 20 minutes walk northeast from JR Kamakura Station.
- To the north, near JR Kita-Kamakura Station, there are four more temples.
- The temples of the east require almost 40 minutes walking or go by buses 23, 24 or 26 from the Central Station; It takes 10 minutes to arrive.
Apart from the temples, Kamakura is famous for the trails that connect them, so I recommend walking as much as possible.
Another good way to tour the city is to rent a bicycle; Kamakura Rent-a-Cycle is facing the east exit of Kamakura Station and east of Hase station. Bikes cost 800 ¥ an hour or 1800 ¥ a full day.
WHERE TO EAT AND SLEEP
- Almost 90% of the restaurants are in the vicinity of the main avenue that connects Kamakura Station to Hachiman-gu Shrine. There is also a good number on the avenue that goes from the main one to Hase area.
- Accommodation. Most visit Kamakura as a day trip, few are those who spend the night. Hotels are also distributed basically near the main avenue, but somewhat further south than the restaurants, closer to Yuigahama beach than to Hachiman-gu. It has a scarce but very well valued offer of hostels, although only two are really well located, close to the beach, WeBase Kamakura and Kamejikan.
DANGERS AND PROBLEMS
The most dangerous thing that can probably happen to you in Kamakura is be trashed about a wave while surfing on the beach, or twist your ankle on one of the trails.