Day trip outside Tokyo: Kamakura

Kamakura is a coastal town less than an hour from Tokyo (by train), filled with temples and shrines. It is popular among local and foreign tourists and gets very crowded on weekends, so the best time to visit is during weekdays. You can take the train directly from a number of Tokyo metro stations and it takes approximately 52 minutes.

When you get to Kamakura, you have 2 ways to see the town: by bike (the bike rental office is next to the station) or on foot. If you want to cycle around Kamakura, you will have to get there before 10:00 am because the rental office runs out of bikes.

If you go on foot, you can do the Daibutsu Hiking Trail that goes from Kamakura to the next town, Kita-Kamakura, past the major attractions such as the giant Buddha (Daibutsu) and the Jochi-ji Temple. The 60-minute hike goes through a lovely wooded forest.

When you arrive in Kita-Kamakura, you can take the same train back to Tokyo or first stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants specializing in Japanese Buddhist vegetarian cuisine (shojin ryori). Note: you can also start at Kita-Kamakura and hike to Kamakura, then take the train back to Tokyo.

In Kamakura, visit the Hasedera Temple which is a 20-minute walk from the station. It is a beautiful temple complex with gardens and a deep cave filled with carvings. Inside the main temple building you will find a magnificent 9.18 metre gilded wooden statue of Kannon, the Buddha of Compassion (Avalokiteshvara in Mahayana Buddhism), depicted as a goddess of mercy in East Asia.

Just down the street from the Hasedera Temple is the main attraction in Kamakura, the great bronze Buddha statue (Daibutsu). This bronze statue was originally cast in 1252 and housed in a temple that was destroyed several times by typhoons until finally, it was left to stand in the outdoors around 1500. You can go inside the Buddha statue (20 yen, entrance at the back of the statue).

great buddha kamakura

Great Buddha statue in Kamakura

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Hasedera Temple grounds in Kamakura

hasedera kamakura japan

Hasedera Temple

buddhist vegetarian kamakura

Shojin Ryori (Japanese Buddhist vegetarian) cuisine in Kita-Kamakura

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About Esme Vos

Esme Vos is the founder of Mapplr, a travel site featuring boutique hotels, luxury resorts, travel guides and restaurant reviews. You can find her on and Twitter.