Kamakura is a great option for a day trip out of Tokyo, and is known for its beautiful temples and Daibutsu (Great Buddha). There are also another couple of hikes in the vicinity of Kamakura, one of which is quite short if you are time poor.
Arriving late morning, we did two out of three walks on a single day and found this to be quite comfortable. If we’d arrived earlier in the day I’d be confident in saying that we could have completed all three (for a more casual summary of our day in Kamakura, drop by my blog entry here).
Trains are relatively frequent to Kamakura. If you have a JR Railpass all you need to do is get to one of the stations on the JR Yokosuka line such as Shimbashi or Shinagawa. As we were staying in Asakusa we walked across to Ueno station and then took the JR Yamanote line to Shinagawa and transferred through. From Shinagawa or Shimbashi you’re looking at just under an hour to Kamakura, while from Ueno it’s another 20-30 mins.
While we walked the trail from Kamakura up to Kitakumakura, you could just as easily hop off the train in Kitakamakura and then take the hiking trail down into Kamakura where you could have lunch and then plan the rest of your day using Kamakura as your base.
1. Leaving the railway station at Kamakura, you have a choice of either walking the 2km (30-40mins) to the Great Buddha of Kamakura (Daibutsu), or you could take a taxi to save a bit of time. The walk isn’t all that strenuous, and takes you through suburban Kamakura, at one point passing through a tunnel in the hillside.
2. The enormous bronze statue of the Buddha (Daibutsu) is found inside the Kotokuin Temple grounds, and will cost Y200 to enter, with an option to climb up inside the statue for an extra Y20. The temple grounds are very pretty, and while it is quite busy it is still a very worthwhile place to visit, particularly in either spring or late autumn when the cherry blossoms or autumn leaves frame the statue in the foreground and background.
3. Continuing up the road from Kotokuin Temple you will see the hiking trail commence on the right hand side, just prior to the tunnel. Take this trail up the steep hillside and follow the well made trail along the ridge top.
4. The hiking trail takes you through some beautiful forests, giving occasional good views through the trees to the north and south over Kamakura. About half way into the hike there is a small park on your left hand side (just prior to a temple complex) where there is a picnic table you can use to take a break and have a bite to eat. If you’re lucky you might even get your very own kitteh to cuddle!!
5. The trail continues through the forest, eventually emerging at Jochiji Temple approximately 1-1.5hrs after you left Daibetsu. Following the access road to the temple, you will come to the main road that links Kamakura (to the right) and Kitakamakura (to the left). We took the road to Kitakamakura as we were on our way back to Tokyo and wanted to take the next train. Alternatively, you could just as easily walk back into Kamakura, giving you the option of also walking the Tenen hiking trail if you’ve got the time (commencing from Kenchoji Temple, about 700m down the road to Kamakura on your left hand side).
It took us approximately 2.5hrs to do the whole walk, allowing for time to see Daibutsu and to enjoy the scenery. As mentioned above, taking a taxi can save you some time if necessary.
A really good walk that can be successfully completed by anyone of average fitness levels. Those with mobility issues may struggle, as there are a couple of steep sections near the start of the hiking trail, but once you get through those sections the walking is fairly easy.