Saturday, 24 May 2014

Kamakura ( Japan )

60 minutes from Tokyo Station to Kamakura Station on the JR Yokosuka Line. Or 60 minutes from JR Shinjuku Station on the JR Shonan Shinjuku Line.
Go to Kita-Kamakura Station on the JR Yokosuka Line. Kita-Kamakura Station is one stop before Kamakura Station. Traveling time from Kamakura Station is 3 minutes. A 1-minute walk from the station.
Visiting the Engaku-ji Temple
The Engaku-ji Temple is a Zen temple built in 1282. The entire premises are designated as a national historic site.
There are many sights to enjoy on the extensive premises. The Sanmon Gate (representing the three gates to emancipation, with san meaning 'three') in particular features frequently in Japanese literature. It is said that this gate frees one of various obsessions and brings about enlightenment. Pass under the gate with a pure mind.

Sightseeing time: 60 minutes
Admission: 300 yen

Sightseeing in the local area on foot.
A 10-minute walk.

 Kencho-ji Temple
Established in 1253, this temple was the first Zen dojo (school) in Japan.
After you pass under the first gate, you will be facing the 30 m high Sanmon Gate.
The large wooden structures and the huge bell will help you to experience the Zen mindset, while the simple garden will bring feelings of wabi (austere refinement) and sabi (quiet simplicity).
Please make sure that you allow sufficient time for your visit.

Sightseeing time: 60 minutes
Admission: 300 yen

Eating Shojin-ryori
There are some famous shojin-ryori restaurants nearby where you can enjoy a traditional Buddhist vegetarian meal.

Go to Kamakura Station from Kita-Kamakura Station on the JR Yokosuka Line. A 3-minute ride.

Fare: 130 yen

From the station, walk down Wakamiya-oji Street, the main street of Kamakura. After about 10 minutes, you will reach the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine.

 Wakamiya-oji Street
Constructed along the lines of Kyoto, Wakamiya-oji Street was built by shogun Minamoto Yoritomo (1147-1199) and stretches 1800 m to the sea. The city of Kamakura was created around this street.
There is a raised stone walkway named Dankazura that leads from the station to the Hachiman-gu Shrine, forming an avenue of cherry trees and azaleas that is breathtaking in spring.

Visiting the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine
The Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine was built by shogun Minamoto Yoritomo after he established the Kamakura Shogunate in the 12th century.
Within the extensive premises, you will learn of the various legends involving samurai warriors.
If you ascend the stairs, you will have a full view of the city of Kamakura.
A lucky charm in the shape of a pigeon, which is a symbol of this shrine, is very popular for its ability to make your dreams come true.
Why not pay a visit to the Kamakura Kokuhokan (Kamakura Museum) with its impressive collection of the city's cultural assets.

Sightseeing time: approx. 60 minutes
Admission: 300 yen (Kamakura Museum)

It is fun to take a jinrikisha (rickshaw) from Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine on a quick tour of the area (9,000 yen for 2 people for 30 minutes).
After that, you can walk back to Kamakura Station.

 Komachi-dori Street
This is the busiest shopping street in Kamakura, lined with souvenir shops and cafes and shops specializing in Kamakura-bori carved items, chopsticks and bamboo ware. The Kichoan Museum with its collection of the works of Rosanjin Kitaoji (1883-1959) is also situated on this street.

Born in Kyoto, Rosanjin possessed tremendous talent in various fields including calligraphy, pottery and painting. At the same time, he was also known as a gourmet who even opened a Japanese restaurant and made all the tableware for the restaurant himself.
Recently, his art has found new appreciation in Japan. If you are interested in Japanese culture, his world will fascinate you.

Change to the Enoshima Dentetsu train from Kamakura Station.
This train, nicknamed the Enoden, connects Kamakura and Fujisawa Stations over a distance of only 10 km. It runs close to private houses and along the sea shore, so it is very popular for sightseeing and enjoying the scenery, something like riding on a tram.
Arrive at Hase Station after about 5 minutes.

Fare: 190 yen

Visiting the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) at the Kotokuin Temple
A 7-minute walk from Hase Station.
Kamakura is renowned for the famous Daibutsu. Daibutsu means great Buddha statue and its formal name is Amida-nyorai-zazou. The Buddha statue here was made in 1252.
Its height including the plinth is 13.35 m and it weighs 121 tons. It is a wonderful statue, not only for its size but also as a sculpture that has retained its appearance since it was cast.
It used to be housed inside a building, but the building was washed away by a tsunami at the end of the 15th century, and since then it has remained outside.
Although there is an additional fee for going inside the statue, we definitely recommend this if you have the chance (admission: 20 yen).
Sightseeing time: 40 minutes
Admission: 200 yen
A 5-minute walk.
Visiting Hase-dera Temple
The historical Hase-dera Temple was built in 736. Thousands of tourists come to visit in the season of autumn leaves when the temple is lit up.
The main statue is the beautiful Hase Kan'non Statue 9.18 m (30.1 ft) in height.
It is called Juichimen Kanzeon Bosatsu (11-headed Goddess Kannon) because it has 11 faces with different expressions: one on top of the head, one facing front, 3 facing to the right and left, at the back and at the apex in addition to the main face.This Bosatsu (Goddess) statue listens to the wishes of all people.
In Amida-do (the Amitabha Hall), there is Amida-nyorai. Minamoto Yoritomo had this statue made in shining gold to dispel evil spirits. The temple is situated on a hill and has a lovely view of the sea.
Its garden with a walking course is known for the beauty of the flowers.
The Homotsukan museum (free) displays a collection of treasures from the temple and deserves a visit.
Sightseeing time: 60 minutes
Admission: 300 yen

A 10-minute walk.
Walking on Yui-ga-hama Beach
In good weather, enjoy a walk along the beach at Yui-ga-hama. Known for its beautiful sunsets, the area is filled with seaside visitors in the summer.
If you are lucky, you can see Mt. Fuji over the sea in the distance.
On the 2nd Sunday in August, a popular festival is held with a spectacular fireworks display over the water.

A 5-minute walk back to the station. 3 minutes to Kamakura Station from Yui-ga-hama Station on the Enoden Line (fare: 190 yen). Yui-ga-hama Station is an unmanned station. Return home from Kamakura Station on the JR Line.

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