A perfect escape to the seaside – Kamakura Day trip

No doubt we loved the hustle of Tokyo. But hailing from a small town, my heart beats for a small town. We wanted to do something simple and quieter yet rooted in Japanese culture. Hence we picked Kamakura for a day trip from Tokyo. Little did we know that Kamakura would become my favourite place in Japan.

13 metres tall buddha statue in meditating pose at Kamakura on a sunny day during day trip from tokyo


Is Kamakura worth seeing?

moving yellow car on asphalt road beside pacific ocean coastline at Kamakura on a sunny day during day trip from tokyo

Who doesn’t love the idea of soaking up the sun while surrounded by centuries-old monuments? Come to Kamakura for the culture, stay for the scenery and leave with seaside memories. This indeed sounds like an ideal place to lay back and relax. So doesn’t that mean it is crowded with a floating population?

Kamakura is neither touristy nor flooded with people. You may see it on some traveller’s lists. But not every tourist who comes to Japan would go here. This makes travelling to Kamakura from Tokyo easy without getting shoved and pushed by the tourist crowd.

What is special about Kamakura?

small buddhist shrine surrounded by green forest with two lion figurines at the entrance at Kamakura on a sunny day during day trip from tokyo

The quaint streets are devoid of skyscrapers and full of colourful foliage. A 500-minute walk can take you to the sandy beaches. Or a forest if you walk in the other direction. You may have soaked yourself in Japan’s modern capital Tokyo. But this small town shocks you because Kamakura was the nation’s capital during the military dictatorship of Japan (1190s–1860s).

If you need breathing time from Tokyo buzz and the one who loves to indulge in simple pleasures like strolling through tranquil streets, gardens or by the seaside, come to Kamakura. The Buddhist shrines for spiritual people and small eateries for foodies all have a fantastic view of the largest and deepest ocean on the Earth-Pacific. Not only a day trip to Kamakura from Tokyo is cheaper. But also, everything else in this small town is super pocket friendly.

What is the best season to visit Kamakura?

13 metres tall buddha statue in meditating pose behind yellow autumn foliage at Kamakura on a sunny day during day trip from tokyo

Anything in Japan looks best with the sprinkle of Sakura during March-May. But this comes with a huge cost. We recommend September to December when the prices are lower and the charming streets are dotted with kaleidoscopic foliage. Kamakura rarely receives snowfall during February. The snow on the giant Buddha’s head may make the place feel ethereal, but much public transport will be interrupted when it snows heavily.

How long to spend in Kamakura?

Man sufring in Pacific ocean at sunset time in Kamakura

Kamakura is only an hour’s train ride from Tokyo. So it makes a good day trip destination. Whether to stay here for two days or just a day trip depends on what you want to do here and how long you are in Japan.

If you are on a short vacation in Japan for 15 days, a day trip to Kamakura from Tokyo is ideal. Suppose you are on a month travelling through Japan; spending two to three days in Kamakura is good for exploring the small town, cycling, and surfing with a visit to Enoshima island.

How long does it take from Tokyo to Kamakura?

tokyo skyscrapers with autumn foliage in foreground during december month

Kamakura is located in Kanagawa prefecture, 70km from Tokyo. Renting a car is expensive and unnecessary as the train’s convenience is at its best. JR Yokosuka Line (for Kurihama) is a direct train that leaves Tokyo station and takes around 60 minutes to reach Kamakura at the cost of 900+ yen for a one-way ticket.

screenshot of jordudan transit planner showing train connectivity between Shibuya and Kamakura for a day trip from Tokyo

Remember that you don’t need to get to Tokyo station to catch the Yokosuka train, as it goes through many other Tokyo JR stations. With the Jorudan Transit planner, check the nearest JR station through which this line passes and get to that station using the subway.

The next option is to take Odakyu Railway Lines from Shinjuku. However, it takes longer to reach Kamakura and is more expensive.

Can I use JR Pass from Tokyo to Kamakura?

JR pass is allowed on this train. However, buying a JR pass just for this trip isn’t logical and economical. Our post here helps you calculate if you need to buy a JR pass.

Things to know before going to Kamakura.

It is indeed super easy to get to Kamakura. The small town is almost walkable. At maximum, you may take the prettiest Enoden line to reach nearby places. Certain things to know before you make a day trip to Kamakura from Tokyo are:

What time does Kamakura close?

Most temples and shrines in Kamakura close between 4 pm and 5 pm, meaning trains towards Tokyo are usually crowded until 6 pm as most visitors head home. Anyways, there are many things to see and do in Kamakura. So consider leaving the charming town from 7 pm onwards and ensure you reach Tokyo before midnight as Tokyo city transportation shuts from 12 midnight to 5.30 am.

To spend a full day, aim to arrive at 9:00 am.

beautiful sloped roof beige painted house on a hillock at Kamakura with womterfoliage on a sunny morning in december
  • This is a walking itinerary that also uses the Enoden Line. You can reduce time by renting a bicycle. Wear comfortable shoes for walking.
  • Wear layers during your day trip to Kamakura from Tokyo in December. It is as cold as Tokyo.
  • If you are on a day trip to Kamakura, we don’t suggest you explore every shrine in detail. Instead, pick things unique to Kamakura and don’t find anywhere else.
  • There are many other spots to explore that aren’t in this itinerary! If you stay for two nights and two days, consider visiting Enoshima island to view Mt Fuji from the ocean.
  • Kamakura gets inactive at night. So don’t expect a hundred options for dining post 9 pm.

What food is Kamakura known for?

kamakura famous seafood white in colour in a bowl

Kamakura is famous for the veggies it grows. But finding vegetarian dishes here is tougher. And seafood lovers can have a delight.

If you want options for food, Kamakura and Hase station is your place. The inner neighbourhoods have a few eateries. Any eatery at the entry/exit point of a tourist interest place is more expensive.

Where to get down in Kamakura when you come from Tokyo?

The Yokusuka JR line stops at Kamakura. Most tourist attractions are located more than a km from here. Most tourists prefer to catch Endoen train further. But we suggest you walk from here.

Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass may work for those who take Odakyu Railway Lines from Shinjuku. However, remember that these passes don’t cover any JR lines.

Accommodations in Kamakura

If we had stayed in Kamakura, we would have opted for the midrange accommodations guesthouse SHIBAFU or Guest House Kamakura Zen-ji.

Where to go nextfrom Kamakura?

If it isn’t a day trip, we recommend you head to Kawaguchiko or Hakone from Kamakura.

What are five things you could do in Kamakura in December?

1. Walk towards Shinsasuke tunnel

As soon as tourists get off at Kamakura station, they catch the Enoden line to get to Hase station. From there, the Big Buddha statue is a 400m walk. But we suggest you don’t do that.

From Kamakura station, walk 2km to the Kotoku-in, AKA Big Buddha temple, via the Shinsasuke tunnel. During this easy hiking, you go through a strange transition from a busy train station full of tourists vibe to a “Is there anyone living here vibe.”

There hides a serene walkway ideal for a short hike and cycling lined with trees and pretty home-run cafes. Hardly any tourists take this route; hence, the street may feel like your own!

After crossing the tunnel, a left lane takes you through the prettiest neighbourhood of Hase. The residential street is filled with beautiful Japanese houses. This gives an insight into how meticulously the Japanese pay attention to detail, even in their home gardens.

The sloped roof houses, with charming gardens, come in subtle grey, beige and brown. The autumn colours in December add vibrance to that neighbourhood where things are still, the air is chilly, and plenty of sunshine lifts your mood up, keeping you calm.

2. Kotoku-in: Great Buddha

This open-air religious place is the reason why both domestic and foreign tourists visit Kamakura from Tokyo. You will meet a few Tokyoites on the train who come to this shrine regularly as a ritual.

Why is Kamakura famous?

This 13m high bronze Buddha statue is the second tallest in Japan, next to the one in Nara. Like elsewhere in Japan, they display all history and technical-related information on the place inside the tranquil park.

There may be hundreds of giant Buddha statues. But this one feels like it has a personality. Just take a look at its facial expression. It conveys a sense of compassion, in line with Buddha’s teachings of empathy and kindness.

That gentle smile on its face. It’s almost as if the statue is saying, “Hey there, don’t worry about a thing. I’ve got your back.”

Call me a sadist – You see hundreds of Buddha statues inside a temple, but not the ones in the open air. The surrounding forest makes a perfect setting turning even a non-spiritual person to rethink one’s beliefs.

What are some interesting facts about the Great Buddha at Kamakura?

But don’t let the Buddha’s serene expression fool you. This statue has seen some things. The Great Buddha has stood tall, from earthquakes to tsunamis to a World War. And if it could talk, I’m sure it would have some pretty interesting stories to share.

And let’s not forget about the locals. The people of Kamakura take great pride in their beloved statue for a good reason. It’s a symbol of their history, culture, and resilience. In fact, the Great Buddha is so beloved that it’s even been featured in movies and TV shows. That’s right, this statue is a bonafide celebrity.

Don’t forget to wander around the park to observe how domestic visitors deeply show devotion to their deity. In addition, many collect “Goshuin” – a Japanese stamp from a shrine that once used to be collected by monks as proof of their visit to holy places. Now it is a perfect souvenir to take home from Japan among domestic and foreign tourists.

3. Hokoku-ji temple bamboo forest

bamboo forest in Kamakura on a sunny and cold afternoon during a day trip from Tokyo

Visiting too many shrines may drain you unless you are on a pilgrimage as a Shinto or a Buddhism follower. But Hokoku Ji’s temple’s bamboo forest shouldn’t be missed. It is ok if you skip the temple but wander in the bamboo forest. It is different from Arashiyama’s forest.

The Hokoku-ji temple has a long history of being associated with shadowy warriors; some say their spirits still haunt the forest today. So if you hear rustling in the bushes or catch a glimpse of a mysterious figure, it is a ninja watching the temple.

There is a beautiful tea house in the forest. We found the place over-priced. But it is a kind of experience to sip Matcha by the bamboo grove.

4. Walk and relax on the shoreline.

Kamakura may be a small town. But it is always full of shops for snacks. Get an ice cream or tasty rolls from a Kombini, get to the main road and walk by the beach. If you are here in summer, you can get to the water. On the day we went in December, it was high tide. Still, sitting by the beachside on the parapet wall and wondering how these surfers fight the cold temperature and why Kamakura is beautiful was mesmerizing.

Beware – Two hours fly in five minutes when you sit like this. Make sure you wander in areas near Hase station for an inimitable view of the majestic Mount Fuji with the Pacific ocean in the foreground.

5. Go to Kamakura Kokamae station

Japan has mastered the art of making everything cute – including their train. The Enoden line’s green electric train looks pretty. The scene gets prettier when the train runs through an enchanting station. If not for anything else, making a day trip from Tokyo to Kamakura is more than worth it for Kamakura Kokame station.

Take the Endoen line at Hase station, and watch the world pass by for the next 20 minutes by the bay until you reach one of the most beautiful train stations in Japan (Or the whole world), Kamkura Kokamae.

This station is like Tiramisu, with many layers.

For starters, the station is built to resemble a traditional Japanese house, complete with a sloping roof and wooden beams. It’s like stepping into a miniaturized version of a bygone era, and it’s sure to charm even the most jaded traveller.

The next and best thing is the locality. On one side of the track is a humble, beautiful neighbourhood stretching across the slope. The other end adds magic to the locality, making it the most beautiful spot in Japan -the railway line is adjoined by the road that hugs an endless coastline.

kamakura kokomae station with green train enoden moving between sea and asphalt road

Now tell me, if it isn’t a Tiramisu?

The road, sloping neighbourhood, coastline topped with a charming station, and Enoshima island dot the entire sight. I can’t believe we spent more than 3hrs here watching every train pass by until sunset.

What are your thoughts on making a day trip to Kamakura from Tokyo, especially in December? Let us know in the comment section below.

Heads up – we are very honest and keep it no secret.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you buy or book something with our links, we’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Think of it as a way of saying thanks for helping you plan better! Don’t fear – We only recommend something if we use it for ourselves. The hard-earned money and time should always be well-spent.

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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