Kanagawa prefecture is a real treasure of Japan. A few amazing cities frequently visited by tourists (and welcoming guests who are coming to enjoy rugby!) fand high appreciated by locals are located in this area.
Among them are magnificent area in Kanagawa is Hakone, a wonderful town with the views over Mt Fuji, hot springs (and onsens!), and Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park (see more information about it in my other blog – Top 10 things I adored in Japan!).
Odawara is a home to a magnificent white castle of the same name.
Another one of them is Yokohama, Japan’s first port open to the foreign trade and capital of Kanagawa prefecture – read about it in a different blog of mine!
And, finally, Kamakura, de facto capital of Japan for over a century before the Siege of Kamakura in 1333. The whole period was called ‘Kamakura era’, or ‘Kamakura shogunate’.
Once you arrive, you are most likely to be puzzled by a number of temples and shrines – it feels like there are dozens and dozens of them! But there are a few that you simply cannot miss.
If you squeeze through the crowds, admire the beauty of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine (long time ago it was a temple) dating back to the 11th century. It is dedicated to the deity protecting the Minamoto family called Hachiman. The complex is huge and includes Torii, The Genpei Ponds, bridge, several shrines and a museum. And don’t forget to spot an ancient ginkgo tree too!
Daibutsu, the Great Buddha of Kamakura, in Taiizan Kotokuin Shojosenji temple is the most famous attraction of the prefecture.
The giant bronze statue dating back to the 13th century initially was placed inside a huge hall (like in Nara) but all the buildings were destroyed by various factors – and since the late 15th century The Giant Buddha stays en plein air. The statue is hollow, and you can also literally walk inside Buddha’s head and to see how the statue was made.
Don’t miss the shopping area nearby – Komachi Dori street is full of souvenir shops (including the cat shop!) or food with Daibutsu!
A short walk from it Hasedera Temple is located – I absolutely loved it in autumn with all foliage turning red and yellow! It is also home to almost 10 meters high wooden statue of Kannon representing mercy and compassion. This temple also provides visitors with views over the city and the beach.
Don’t forget to stroll along the Yuigahama Beach too – and maybe even swim there a bit if weather allows!
Among my favourites in Kamakura are Jomyoji and Hokokuji Temples on the other side of the city.
You can admire the rock garden of the first and bamboo grove of the latter and have a nice matcha with sweets in both!
At Engakuji temple (SAMURAI Project), one of the most important Zen Buddhist temples of the area, you can join a unique Iai Experience and Zen meditation session.
You’ll immerse yourself into a meditation led by a monk of the temple (hey, what can be more authentic than this?) and watch the sword performance session: a roll of tatami to be cut in two by katana, traditional Japanese sword used by samurai!
Besides that, a short walk from the Engakuji temple you can try a very special plant-based menu at Hachinoki. This restaurant serves Shojin ryori, traditional vegan cuisine of Buddhist monks that was considered a part of their spiritual practice. This dining style became popular in the 13th century with the growing power of Buddhism in Japan. Can you believe that all the variety of dishes on the photo is produced only from less than ten ingredients in total!
Finally, my absolute favourite among the Kamakura temples is located nearby too – it’s the 13th century Kenchoji temple, the oldest Zen temple in Kamakura. It’s beauty is very stoic and reserved, with all the wooden structures left bare. Don’t miss the sleeping dragon painting in the Hattō hall!
Read about Yokohama in my next blog!
Hope you enjoyed my today’s post!