It was so great to learn about Kamakura, Japan from my new friend Corinne Vail of ReflectionsEnRoute.com. Corrine is a teacher in Japan for the US government. She is close to retiring and loves Kamakura so much that she’ll continue to live here as her permanent home. After exploring her new home city, she knows all of the best things to do in Kamakura.
Kamakura is a city located on the beach about an hour south of Tokyo. The city is a mixture of traditional and modern with its centuries-old temples and awesome ocean waves that surfers love.
The best time of year to visit is the spring or fall, but the surfers visit all year long. In April and September is the Yobusame Festival where participants adorn traditional samurai attire and compete in activities such as horseback archery.
Kamakura is best known for its Big Buddha and numerous temples and shrines. Most of the temples and shrines are free, but some of the more popular ones have started charging a fee. The fees are generally small and worth the experience.
We share a lot of resources and local suggestions in today’s podcast, but you should also check out the Kamakura Visitor’s Guide, brought to you by the local convention and visitor’s bureau. They are a wealth of information and can help you plan an itinerary based on your time, budget, and interests.
Best things to do in Kamakura
- Enoden Train Station (reviews) – Take the electric train to Enoshima. Corinne says that this train is popular on Instagram.
- Enoshima (reviews) – Take the Enoden electric train to this little beach town and island. There are decorative candles everywhere.
- Great Buddha of Kamakura (reviews) – Big Buddha and the other temples and shrines around the city are some major tourist attractions. Kamakura is known for them. There is no skipping the lines, but they are never long. Most of the temples and shrines are free, but some of the more popular ones have a fee.
- Hokokuji Bamboo Forest (reviews) – A temple built into the mountain. Every Sunday there is a “Sunset Sitting” where the general public can also participate.
- Kamakura City Tourist Association (reviews)
- Kamakurabori Museum (reviews) – Kamakurabori is a type of wood-carving. Learn how to carve wood in ancient Japanese style
- Ten-en Hiking Trail (reviews) – Adventurous hike to explore the local temples.
- Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Shrine (reviews) – Home to one of the most interesting, and exciting festivals in Japan. The Yobusame Festival features traditional samurai competing in events like horseback archery. Happens in April and September.
- Yuigahama Beach (reviews) – The official beach season in Kamakura lasts from July to August.
- Zaimokuza Beach (reviews) – Sandy beach is situated at a calm inlet.
Best places to eat in Kamakura
- Hiyori (reviews) – Traditional Japanese cuisine in a formal setting
- Latteria BeBe Kamakura (reviews) – They have great pizza that is made in the traditional Italian style. This restaurant makes their own mozzarella.
- L’Eglise (reviews) – French bistro
- Totoyamichi (reviews) – We have the best conveyor belt sushi at Totoyamichi. On top of the normal sushi, they always have specials for local fish that are cooked and served in small individual pots as well. The scallops and oysters are amazing!
Best Places To Stay In Kamakura
- Guesthouse Irodori Kamakura – A pet-friendly hotel that provides complimentary breakfast every morning.
- Kamakura Guest House (reviews) – A hostel in a traditional Japanese setting. Pick this one for an authentic Japanese experience.
- Kamakura Prince Hotel (reviews) – The best hotel is Kamakura Prince Hotel with plenty of beach views.
- Mercure Yokosuka (reviews) – A modern and stylish hotel. All 160 rooms boast deep soaking tubs and offer free WiFi and flat-screen TVs. There are also two restaurants onsite.
- WeBase Hostel (reviews) – Another local hostel where guests share bedrooms and bathrooms. A good option to meet people if you are traveling alone.
Getting around Kamakura, Japan
When flying into Japan, there are two airports to choose from: Narita International Airport (NAR) and Haneda Airport (HND). It would take 2.5 hours to get to Kamakura from Narita, but only an hour from Haneda.
Corinne says that public transportation is cheap and easy, so there’s no need to rent a car. You can take a train to get to the city, then walk or take a bus once you’re in Kamakura. Bike rentals are also a popular method of getting around or venturing further outside the city center.
Places we talked about on the podcast
Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Corinne Vail about Kamakura, Japan. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.
- Red dots = best places to eat in Kamakura, Japan
- Green dots = best things to do in Kamakura, Japan
- Yellow dots = best places to stay in Kamakura, Japan
Who is Corinne Vail?
Corinne Vail is a teacher for the US government who is about to retire. Through her job, she has been traveling for more than 20 years to countries across the globe. Some of her stops have been in Turkey, South Korea, Japan, the Netherlands, and Germany.
She blogs with her husband, Jim, at ReflectionsEnRoute.com. They have been to more than 85 countries and encourage readers to focus on the journey as a part of the adventure. When reading their blog, you’ll learn to discover new things about yourself and the world you live in.
Here are a couple of articles that she’s written:
- A Visit to Matsumoto – Castle and Art
- 2 Days in Berlin – The Perfect Weekend in Berlin
- Japanese Soba – Buckwheat Festival
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Stay tuned for our next episode
Listen to the next episode when we celebrate our 50th episode. I’ll share what I’ve learned through over 50 interviews, discuss how we’re able to travel so much, and talk about what’s coming in future episodes. We hope you’ll join us when We Travel There.
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