Make the most of a day out in the charming coastal town of Kamakura, only 1 hour from Tokyo, with our Kamakura Day Trip Itinerary.
The Big Buddha at Kotoku-in Temple. - image © Florentyna Leow
Kamakura has been called “Little Kyoto” by many, not least because of its numerous temples and shrines around the area. It’s a charming little coastal town, with hiking trails and sights aplenty. Located just an hour outside of Tokyo, it makes a fantastic day trip outside the capital. Make the most of a day out in Kamakura with this itinerary.
Small statues at Hasedera Temple. - image © Florentyna Leow
Notes Before You Go
- A direct, one-way journey from Tokyo Station costs JPY920 one way. Use an IC card or purchase tickets from the machines outside the JR station barriers. The journey is an hour each way.
- We suggest aiming to arrive by around 8:30am. This will give you a full day there, with ample time to explore at a leisurely pace.
- Itinerary timings are approximate. Adjust them to suit your schedule. Add or subtract places from this itinerary as you prefer, but it’s generally better to enjoy a few places properly than to sprint through many places.
- This itinerary is a guideline. There are far more temples and shrines than can be realistically included for a comfortable day out; this is one that’s on the leisurely side of days out. But it’s easily adjustable, and is meant to allow for enough time to shop and explore. If you like walking, throw in a hiking trail or visit a few more temples, such as Meigetsuin or Engakuji Temple near Kita-Kamakura Station.
- This is a walking itinerary. Although you can reduce the amount of walking by taking the Enoden train or even buses at times, there’s still plenty of walking involved. Short of renting a bicycle, it’s one of the best ways to explore Kamakura. Put on your most comfortable shoes and give it a shot.
Underground Marunouchi entrance to JR Tokyo Station on a weekday morning. - image © Florentyna Leow
Here is our full one-day itinerary. Scroll to the bottom of this page to find a Google map which has the whole route and all the places mentioned marked on it.
7:30am JR Tokyo Station
Start at any JR gate in Tokyo Station. We’ve taken the underground Marunouchi entrance in this case.
Signs to the JR Yokosuka Line. - image © Florentyna Leow
You’ll be looking for the signs pointing to the Yokosuka Line. Platforms for trains on this line are located several floors below, so if you’re heading on a downward escalator, you’re most likely going in the right direction.
Into the belly of Tokyo Station. - image © Florentyna Leow
Trains on Platforms 1 and 2 are bound for Zushi, while trains on Platform 3 and 4 are bound for Narita.
Signboards for the Yokosuka Line. - image © Florentyna Leow
Look for platforms 1 and 2 heading towards Zushi. You’ll know they’re the right ones when you see “via Kamakura” written next to the final destination on the signboard.
In the morning, trains towards Kamakura depart frequently - around every 5 minutes - so you won’t be left waiting too long before the next train arrives. You will be traveling during rush hour, so expect to be surrounded by commuters in black suits. Many will alight at Shinagawa Station, and again at Musashi-Kosugi Station, so you’ll have some room to breathe then. Grab a seat while you can, because the journey from Tokyo to Kamakura takes about an hour.
8:30am Breakfast in Kamakura
Once you’ve arrived at Kamakura Station, the first order of the day is to have breakfast - or, at the very least, coffee. You deserve it after surviving an hour of Tokyo’s morning rush. You can grab coffee, pastries and onigiri (rice balls) at several places near the station.
At the entrance to Tsurugaoka Hachimangū. - image © Florentyna Leow
9:15am Tsurugaoka Hachimangū
Now that you’ve fueled up, it’s time to head over to Tsurugaoka Hachimangū - Kamakura’s most important shrine. Dedicated to Hachiman, the tutelary god of warriors, the shrine complex was moved to its current site in 1180 and has remained there since. It is also the reason Kamakura has no tall buildings - none of the structures in town are allowed to tower above the shrine.
Komachi-dori Shopping Street near Kamakura Station. - image © Florentyna Leow
There are two ways to reach the shrine - either via the main approach, or the shopping street. The latter will likely mean many stops for window shopping.
The torii gate that marks the start of Komachi-dori Shopping Street. - image © Florentyna Leow
The scenic and less distracting route is via the main approach. Exit the station, turn left at the McDonald’s into the shopping street, marked by a large torii gate.
Walk straight for a block. Take the next right. You’ll come out to the main road. Cross the road at the traffic lights just to your left.
The large torii gate leading to the shrine. This crossing is called Ninotorii-mae. - image © Florentyna Leow
You’ll arrive at the main approach to the shrine, marked by a large torii gate.
Nearing the shrine. - image © Florentyna Leow
Walk up the main approach, and the shrine will come into view.
If you need to shop, it may be worth visiting the shrine first and then returning this way via the shopping street.
Minamoto Pond to the right of the shrine. - image © Florentyna Leow
Entrance to Tsuruoka Hachimangu is free. The shrine complex is much larger than it appears. While visitors tend to crowd around the main buildings, it is very pleasurable to duck off the main drag, either to the left or right, accessible via the red curved bridges.
Koi in the ponds. - image © Florentyna Leow
You’ll find quiet paths flanked by babbling brooks and small canals, ponds filled with vivid orange and white koi, and depending on the season, lotuses. Take some time on the benches in front of the pond to enjoy the view.
Peonies at the shrine garden. - image © Florentyna Leow
In February, there’ll be a peony garden right next to the entrance of the shrine on the right, accessible for an additional JPY500 or so. It is entirely worth the additional entrance fee.
The main temple building at Myohonji. - image © Florentyna Leow
Myohonji is one of the oldest Nichiren Buddhist temples in Kamakura. Spacious and imposing, the temple complex is flanked by mountains and connected to the Gionyama hiking trails. Because it’s relatively far from the beaten tourist track and requires a little walking through the backstreets to get there, there are usually fewer visitors, and can be beautifully tranquil on weekday mornings. (That being said, it doesn’t make that much difference when the autumn leaves are out in full force.)
Exit the shrine and head back down the way you came. This time, instead of walking down the central approach, stay on the left side of the road. You’ll pass Verve Coffee Roasters and Maruyama Coffee - perfect for another caffeine break.
At the traffic lights at ニノ鳥居前 Ninotorii-mae, turn left. You’ll know when you see the Family Mart on your left.
A nondescript-looking street. - image © Florentyna Leow
Walk until you reach a T-junction. Turn left. Walk past 7-11 then take the next right - it’s a small street just after 7-11, pictured above.
A small bridge. - image © Florentyna Leow
Cross the small bridge and take the next right turn. The entrance to Myohonji is a short walk ahead to the left.
The gate to the temple. - image © Florentyna Leow
When you see the gate pictured above - it will be on your right - turn left and walk up to find the Myohonji temple complex.
The underside of the roof. - image © Florentyna Leow
There’s much to see on the temple grounds. Take a moment to sit down and examine the joinery of the temples eaves - it’s remarkable just how intricate it is.
Along the verandah of the main building. - image © Florentyna Leow
If you’re lucky, one of the priests will be conducting the morning prayers. The sound of the prayer bell and chanting, the birds chirping in the surrounding forest, dappled sunlight filtering through the trees… visiting Myohonji is like a personal meditation retreat.
Kotori, a charming stationery shop. - image © Florentyna Leow
11:15am Walking to Lunch
It’s not quite time for lunch, but once you’ve walked the distance there it will be.
This is an old building converted into a kindergarten! - image © Florentyna Leow
First, retrace your steps to the bottom of the Myohonji temple complex. At the kindergarten, turn left into the narrow road.
Turning left from the kindergarten takes you into this road. - image © Florentyna Leow
Keep walking straight. Stop by a shrine or two on the way, if you like. When you reach the main road, turn right.
A ceramics shop. - image © Florentyna Leow
This section of road up till the Geba Crossing is not a designated shopping street like Komachi-dori Shopping Street near the station, which makes it delightfully non-touristy. (For now.) At first glance it looks bereft, with old houses and little else. But as always, first impressions are misleading. You’ll want to spend some time walking and exploring the numerous little shops and cafes on both sides of the street, on your way to the next destination.
If you're looking for vegetables, keep an eye out for this sign. - image © Florentyna Leow
I do suggest a particular spot for lunch later in this itinerary. But, there are lunch options a-plenty along this street for you to discover and walk into. There’s a small Korean diner that conducts fermentation workshops; an organic vegetable cafe tucked away in the back of an old machiya house; a dilapidated-looking Chinese-style noodle shop with many regulars slurping away.
Then there’s all the other shops ranging from old-school bakeries to ceramic shops. My favorite was a meticulously curated stationery store filled with ultra-cute, gift-worthy items - like tiny envelopes, cheerful postcards and stickers. This is a real slice of local Kamakura that’s worth slowing down for.
Tori tsuttai - cold Yamagata-style chicken ramen. - image © Florentyna Leow
12:30pm Lunch at Soba Bar Fukuya
Keep walking along this road. You will pass two large train crossings, and a large intersection (Geba Crossing) with Mobil and Softbank on the left side.
The entrance to the soba bar. - image © Florentyna Leow
The soba bar will be on your left shortly after the second railway crossing, on the ground floor of Hostel Yuigahama.
The interior of Soba Bar Fukuya. - image © Florentyna Leow
It is hard to overstate how much I like Soba Bar Fukuya’s Yamagata-style noodles. Their noodles are the closest approximation I can get in this part of Japan without actually hopping on a bus up north. They serve rustic, slightly thick-cut buckwheat noodles with meat (niku soba), or my personal favourite, tori chuka, ramen noodles in chicken broth.
It's said in Japan that noodle connoisseurs tend to have their soba cold regardless of the weather, in order to better appreciate the firm, al dente texture of each slurp. Even in the depths of winter. Yes, I recommend having them stone cold, even in February. A deep, sweet, dashi and chicken-rich broth that’s long on flavour and short on fat is fantastic when cold.
Unadorned soba pudding. - image © Florentyna Leow
Jiggly soba pudding makes a great, not-too-sweet end to lunch.
A few other recommended restaurants along the way are marked on the accompanying Google Maps.
Inside Hasedera Temple. - image © Florentyna Leow
1:15pm Walking to Hasedera Temple
Finding Hasedera Temple is simple: exit the soba bar and turn left. Walk along the main road until you reach the temple. Alternatively, take the Enoden two stations down, from Wadazuka Station (a short walk from the soba bar) to Hase Station.
Hand-drawn by the owner of Gokuraku Curry. - image © Florentyna Leow
Between the soba bar and Hasedera is approximately 1.3km of walking. You could skip this, but I do recommend going on foot. As you may have surmised, there’s plenty in the way charming shops and buildings to explore.
Indigo-dyed clothes shop, with more antiques displayed inside. - image © Florentyna Leow
Crafts, antiques, French patisseries, kooky curry cafes, secondhand kimono, sundry shops, blue-and-white ceramics and indigo-dyed clothes - even if you’re not a hardcore shopper, it’s still fun to browse and get a feel for this part of town.
The lantern in front of Hasedera Temple. - image © Florentyna Leow
At the end of the road, when you can’t go any further, you’ll arrive at Hasedera Temple. Like every other major temple in Kamakura, it’s clearly signposted. Entry to the temple is JPY300.
A small statue of the goddess Benzaiten. - image © Florentyna Leow
You could easily spend around 45 minutes exploring the temple grounds. It's home to all kinds of little nooks and crannies, and charming little statues and decorations. Crawl into the cave housing hundreds of tiny Benzaiten statues, stroll around the lotus pond, or enter a small temple hall at the top and spin the prayer wheels. Take your time here,and watch out for kite hawks above.
The view from the top of Hasedera Temple. - image © Florentyna Leow
Give yourself enough time to climb to the top of the temple and enjoy the view of Kamakura from above. If the timing’s right and you’re here during the rainy season, walking along “Prospect Road” is a must. This hyperbolically-named path is a small walking loop built into the hillside at the top of the temple. It’ll be clearly marked and you’ll spot the gorgeous hydrangea bushes a mile away.
People photographing the Great Buddha. - image © Florentyna Leow
3:00pm Kotokuji Temple
Once you’re finished with Hasedera Temple, it’s time to head to the final stop of the day - Kotoku-in Temple, which houses Kamakura’s Great Buddha.
Coffee lies this way. - image © Florentyna Leow
Head back towards the main road from the entrance of the temple. If you’d like a quick coffee break, turn left into the road just before the intersection. The turning is pictured above.
Kannon Coffee. - image © Florentyna Leow
Kannon Coffee is a great little place to refuel with coffee, cookies, or handheld crepes. You can also save this for a later pit stop after visiting the next temple.
The entrance to Kotoku-in Temple. - image © Florentyna Leow
Once you’re on the main road, turn left. Cross the road now or later on, but you’re heading up the gently inclining Daibutsu shopping street. You can’t miss this either: there will most likely be tourist buses roaring up and down the road, and a steady stream of other visitors coming to and from the temple. Keep walking until you see the entrance to Kotoku-in Temple.
It’s a reasonably spacious temple, but the main thing to see here really is the Great Buddha. For an additional 10 yen, you can enter the statue itself, which is really quite impressive.
Exit the temple and meander back down the shopping street in the direction of Hasedera Temple.
At this point, you can either stop for coffee or ice cream at one of the numerous cafes and shops along the road. Or, if it’s already that time of the evening, have an early dinner. (Or you can do all of the above. No one is judging.)
4:00pm Returning to Kamakura Station
To return to Kamakura Station, walk back along the shopping street leading away from Hasedera Temple and turn left at the intersection with Mobil on it.
Alternatively, walk to Hase Station on the Enoden line. From Daibutsu Shopping Street, keep walking straight, with the ocean in front of you. In a few minutes, you’ll see train tracks in front of you. Hase Station is to the left on the tracks. Buy a ticket here and hop on the train bound for Kamakura Station. Trains depart regularly.
However, if the timing’s right, you don’t take the train back to Kamakura Station just yet. Walk over to the beach straight past Hase Station, find a spot, and enjoy the sunset.
Once you’ve reached Kamakura Station, you can transfer to the JR lines and retrace your morning’s journey to take the Yokosuka Line back to Tokyo Station.
Along the hiking trail. - image © Florentyna Leow
If you have time to spare by the time you’ve visited the Big Buddha and you’re feeling particularly fit and energetic, we recommend hiking back to Kamakura Station via Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine to finish your day trip here.
A map of hiking trails around this side of Kamakura. - image © Florentyna Leow
This hiking course is around 2.2km and takes around 75 minutes to complete, but I’d estimate a little more time and distance than this, since you’ll have to walk to the start of the route, and then onwards to Kamakura Station after visiting the shrine. This option is only recommended if you have appropriate footwear and you’re reasonably confident about hiking. We can’t really recommend doing the hike when it’s raining. This will also take you back to Kamakura Station, so you can either eat your evening meal in the area or return to Tokyo for dinner.
A sign pointing to the hiking course. - image © Florentyna Leow
Once you exit Kotokuji Temple, turn right and follow the road upwards, away from the direction you came in.
You’ll know you’re going the right way when you see signs like the one above. As the picture suggests, take the staircase before the tunnel when you see it.
A gentle stretch along the trail. - image © Florentyna Leow
The hiking course is very clearly signposted, and it’s pretty much impossible to stray from the designated path. It begins with a moderately stiff climb and alternates between flat, gentle sections with steeper uphills and downhills - you’re essentially crossing a small mountain to get to the other side.
Keep following the signs to Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine. - image © Florentyna Leow
There’ll be a sign every few hundred meters, as though to reassure you that you’re on the right track. (If only life was the same way!)
Follow this sign. - image © Florentyna Leow
Around 700m in, you’ll see a sign pointing to a cafe.
Itsuki Garden, a charming cafe set into the hillside. - image © Florentyna Leow
Following the sign will take you to a charming terraced cafe set into the hillside, overlooking the trees below. (You could drive here from the other side and walk in through the front door - but where’s the fun in that?) It’s a nice place for a mid-hike cup of tea.
Trees along the trail. - image © Florentyna Leow
Otherwise, continue along the hiking path towards the shrine.
The entrance to Zeniarai Benzaiten Shrine is through this tunnel. - image © Florentyna Leow
Enter the shrine through a chilly, low, echoey tunnel.
Washing your money in a wicker basket. - image © Florentyna Leow
The idea at this shrine is to wash your money in its waters, as it’s said that this will cause it to return to you fivefold when spent. Visitors don’t just wash coins here. You’ll see some people rinsing stacks of paper notes, and then drying them carefully with handkerchiefs afterwards! Spend them wisely and what you’ve spent will return to you quintupled. Let’s hope that’s true.
JPY100 gets you a candle, incense, and use of the wicker baskets for money-washing. - image © Florentyna Leow
Once you’ve explored the shrine, continue walking down the hill. Keep following the signposts to Kamakura Station. You’ll know you’re going the right way when you begin to hear more cars and see more tiny cafes. You’ll also pass a Starbucks on your left, a sure sign that you’re nearing a station. Eventually, you’ll reach the West Exit of Kamakura Station, where you can buy a ticket that’ll take you home to Tokyo.
Kamakura Day Trip Map
View the full size version of our Kamakura map which has each of the places discussed above marked on it
Recommended Accommodation for Kamakura
Although Kamakura is an easy day trip from Tokyo, you might want to slow down and spend a night there. This will give you a break from the city and allow you to explore the area in more depth. Here are some recommended accommodations.
- Kamakura Prince Hotel
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
This hotel is located at Shichirigahama Beach, a few stops down from Kamakura Station on the Enoden line. It’s just far enough from the tourist hotspots but close enough that they’re very accessible. The hotel rooms are brightly lit, with floor-to-ceiling windows; some have panoramic ocean views, making for beautiful sunsets from your bed. Highly recommended for those looking for somewhere comfortable and a little special.
- Kamakura Park Hotel
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
A European-style hotel located 5 minutes away from the beach on foot. Both Japanese and Western-style rooms with stunning ocean views are available at this hotel. A spa is also available on-site for guests who just want to relax. Major temples and stations - Hasedera Temple and Hase Station, for instance - are located within 10-12 minutes walking distance from the hotel. They also offer bicycle and car rental services. If you are checking out but exploring for the day, the 24-hour front desk also offers luggage storage.
- Inn By The Sea Kamakura
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
Run by Helen and Hisashi, this cozy and friendly guesthouse is a short walk from Yuigahama Beach and features Japanese-style guest rooms with tatami floors and traditional futon bedding. Stays can include breakfasts, and they are usually happy to cater to special eating requirements with detailed advance notice.
- Hostel YUIGAHAMA + SOBA BAR
(View on Booking.com or Agoda.com)
A clean, brightly-lit, welcoming guesthouse with an excellent soba bar on the ground floor. Previously a Japanese-style storehouse, the building was renovated, with one cozy double room and several dormitory-style rooms. It’s an 8-minute walk from JR Kamakura Station and a 10-minute walk from the beach. They also offer bicycle rental.
- Kiyaza Kamakura Resort
(View on Booking.com)
A brightly-lit, charming guesthouse situated 3 minutes away from the beach. Both dormitory beds and private rooms are available, and depending on your group numbers you can choose either Japanese or Western-style rooms. Enjoy the garden, hang out with a drink on the terrace, or chat to other guests at the bar. It’s great if you’re looking for a reasonably priced but quiet place a little further away from the main tourist spots.
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals. Check my guides to arriving at Narita Airport and at Haneda Airport.
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world