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The seaside town of Kamakura, an hour’s train ride south of Tokyo, was briefly Japan's capital in the 13th century. Here the Minamoto clan ruled through a military government. During this time scores of temples and shrines, many still standing, were built and a giant bronze Buddha, the Daibutsu, was cast. The serene looking statue has weathered the centuries and remains standing at Kotoku-in, a temple at Hase, on the way from Kamakura to the neighboring seaside town of Enoshima. Here you can explore a small sacred island that is famous for its naked statue of the Buddhist goddess Benten and for its pleasant Botanical Garden. Back in ...

The seaside town of Kamakura, an hour’s train ride south of Tokyo, was briefly Japan's capital in the 13th century. Here the Minamoto clan ruled through a military government. During this time scores of temples and shrines, many still standing, were built and a giant bronze Buddha, the Daibutsu, was cast. The serene looking statue has weathered the centuries and remains standing at Kotoku-in, a temple at Hase, on the way from Kamakura to the neighboring seaside town of Enoshima. Here you can explore a small sacred island that is famous for its naked statue of the Buddhist goddess Benten and for its pleasant Botanical Garden. Back in Kamakura, a short walk or bike ride from the station, is the Minamoto clan’s guardian shrine of Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu, the location of a spectacular festival (September 14-16) featuring horseback archery in traditional costumes. At Kencho-ji, Japan’s oldest Zen training monastry, you’ll see many shaven-headed monks while another temple, Tokei-ji, is known for its year-round displays of flowers. Hikers can stretch their legs on the Daibutsu Hiking Course, a 2.2km, ridge-path walk connecting Kamakura to Hase. While in town you might also want to sample the Buddhist vegetarian cuisine known as shojin ryori.

Simon Richmond
About the Expert

Simon Richmond has written Rough Guides to Malaysia and Japan; Lonely Planet guides to India and Russia; and adventure travel guides for Frommer's on Australia, India, South America, and Southeast Asia.

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Simon Richmond for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Any time of year is good; the town's main festival is September 14-16.