For our March Peko Peko Box, we are taking you to discover Kamakura. Located less than an hour south of Tokyo, Kamakura is a coastal city in Kanagawa Prefecture. It became the political center of Japan at the end of the 12th century and until the 14th century after the shogunate settled there to rule the archipelago. Sometimes referred to as the Kyoto of Eastern Japan, Kamakura is known for its many temples and shrines.
Best thing to do: Enjoy Mt Fuji view from the beach
Kamakura’s sandy beaches draw crowds during the summer months, with many Tokyoites coming to spend their weekends there. In winter, when the horizon is clear, you can enjoy a magnificent view of Mount Fuji from the beach.
To access the beaches, we recommend that you take the charming, scenic Enoden train from Kamakura Station to Enoshima Station.
Best temple to visit: The great Buddha of Kamakura
One of Kamakura’s must-sees is its bronze statue of Buddha Amida, which stands at Kotokuin temple. Built in 1252, it is 11.5 meters high and weighs over 120 tons. It is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan, surpassed only by the Todaiji temple statue in Nara.
The statue was originally located inside a large hall. However, after it was destroyed, the monks decided to leave the statue in the open air.
Best shrine to visit: Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū
In the center of the city, from Kamakura Station, you can follow the dankazura, a 450-meter-long pedestrian path lined with 177 sakura, and leading to Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū Shrine.
Founded by Minamoto Yoriyoshi in 1063, it is the most important shrine in Kamakura.
It was enlarged and moved to its present site in 1180 by its descendant, Minamoto Yoritomo, founder and first shogun of the Kamakura government.
The shrine is dedicated to Hachiman, the protective god of the Minamoto family and of the samurai in general. Indeed, Hachiman was considered the protective kami of the warrior class.
It is said that Hachiman was guided to the shrine by doves. This is why you will find many representations of this bird. As for example: on the plaque at the top of the main building, the “hachi” character is drawn with representations of doves.
Best place to relax: Hokoku-ji temple and its bamboo forest
One magnificent temple that should not be missed while visiting Kamakura is Hokoku-ji. Slightly out of the way, it stands in the middle of a residential area. It is often called the bamboo temple. Indeed, its main attraction is the magnificent bamboo forest hidden behind its walls. No less than 2000 bamboos stand there. A magical place.
In the center of the forest, a tea house where you can enjoy a matcha drink and some sweets for 500 yen, while admiring the light playing hide and seek between the bamboos. A great place to relax for a few minutes.
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