Kamakura, Japan – A small town on the coast of Japan shines bright with clear, blue waters and an intimate ambiance. Traveling from Tokyo to Kamakura instantly reveals the change in atmosphere from busy and booming to friendly and inviting. The subway stations are essential in getting from city to city.
The most convenient route to make the trip to Kamakura from Tokyo is the Shonan Shinjuku Line, which is only an hour’s ride away. Riding the Shinjuku line, which provides a straight shot to Kamakura Station, costs about 950 JPY (estimated $7 USD).
The mom-and-pop vibe from the area draws many tourists into the culture of a seaside Japanese town. Locals may feel a deeper connection toward the temples and traditions here than those in Tokyo, as the city provides a more personal and spiritual experience without worrying about the hurriedness of the metropolis. The best view of the actual island near Kamakura can be most clearly seen from Hasedera Temple, where there are also colorful hydrangeas in the summer.
Along with Hasadera Temple, there are other popular spots that make for great sightseeing.
The mighty Kannon
The religious affiliation and rustic aspect is even more apparent at Hasadera Temple. The mellowness and quiet atmosphere may bring about emotional feelings while paying respects to the temple. Hasadera Temple is home to the Buddhist Kannon statue, which is known for its 11-headed crown. According to lore, the Kannon also has the ability to grant prosperity and wishes.
An offering box for yen is placed in front of the Kannon. Visitors should throw coins in before or after prayer. Small candles, used as amulets, can also be purchased and lit to wish for various forms of protection. The wooden Kannon stands at 9.18 meters tall (30.12 feet) and was carved to be a beacon of powerful faith. The Kannon represents hope for locals and is highly respected – photography is prohibited. This gives visitors a moment to be fully in tune with their individual spirituality. It can be a beautiful moment to remember for life.
Daibutsu and his sandals
The main attraction of the Kamakura area is the Great Buddha, also known as Daibutsu. The statue located at Kōtokuin Temple, sits in the center and gazes down at visitors in a friendly welcome. Presently, visitors of the Great Buddha can go inside the huge statue and go on a tour for 50 JPY (estimated $0.36 USD).
The story behind Daibutsu’s sandals tells a heart-warming tale of a group of children who weaved the straw to make huge warazori sandals to fit Daibutsu’s feet. Post World War II, the children presented the sandals to Daibutsu in hopes that he could walk through Japan and help rebuild the country.
Daibutsu has been well-loved and has received prayers for several centuries. Children weave a new pair of sandals for Daibutsu every three years to give thanks and hope for his return.
The magic of Komachi-dori Street
Kamakura includes a lot of magical places, including, but not limited to, the shopping boutiques available. Komachi-dori Street is kept busy by tourists but remains in a calm state of mind, as the entrance is under torii gates which are famous for being at the entrance of many Shinto shrines.
This shopping strip has unique stops such as the mini Studio Ghibli store. Sweets are also a very popular find down this street, such as candied strawberries on skewers. Dango is a sweet version of mochi rice balls that are also common. Komachi-dori can be a less-busy epicenter compared to other areas like Shibuya Crossing or Takeshita-dori Street in Harajuku, Tokyo.
Browsing and shopping are a breeze just like the wistful gusts of air coming through with the ocean. Clothing shops and hundreds of souvenir shops are available for tourists to find the perfect gifts for friends and family and to cherish the unforgettable town of Kamakura.
The entrance fee to visit Daibutsu is 300 JPY (estimated $2 USD) and the Hasedera Temple entrance fee is 400 JPY (estimated $3 USD). Komachi-dori Street is free to browse and stroll for a nice shopping spree or sight-seeing.