The small coastal town only 50 kilometers away from Tokyo boasts a remarkable concentration of temples in a small area, so many historical gems, breathtaking landscapes and a beautiful coastline. As Kamakura was once a political capital of medieval Japan, Kamakura is a popular tourist destination and its beaches also attract large crowds in the summer.
1. The Great Buddha: Kotoku-in’s Daibutsu
Built in 1252 A.D, the great Buddha of Kamakura is one of the most stunning artworks from the Kamakura period and still intact after almost 800 years. The giant copper structure is 13.35 meters and weighs approximately 121 tons. It is recognized as the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan. You will be not only amazed by the size but also by a staircase inside the Buddha, which takes visitors up to shoulder height.
Getting inside the Daibutsu allows you to understand how the statue was built – to replace a wooden statue that was badly damaged.
Founded over 850 years ago, Meigetsu-in is known as the Bright Moon Hermitage or the Hydrangea Temple since abundant hydrangeas start blooming in the temple’s garden during June. Then, we recommend you visit Meigetsu-in during June or the autumn when you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the temple. Some of the large temples in Kamakura are only a stroll away, but this temple somehow appears completely solitary and is purposefully smaller than its counterparts. The evidence lies in the temple’s comparatively smaller footprint, the tasteful garden arrangements and its authentic Kamakura infrastructure. Actually, it was originally designated as a subsidiary to Zenkoji temple, which was the great Buddhist temples in the Kanto area but demolished during the Meiji Restoration in 1867. Perhaps Meigetsu-in temple would have suffered similar devastation, it still survived as a standalone place of worship.
If you’re a flower appreciator, you’re going to dig this temple. The dry garden with impressive boulders and hedges has a gloomy, mysterious feel and looks spectacular all year round. Don’t miss out on the vibrant garden behind the main hall where irises and hydrangeas blossom. There are also flowers along walking paths as well so please amble along and enjoy it.
From Kamakura Station, take the west exit and walk down the shopping street, you will be welcomed by a beautiful typical Japanese-style garden with ponds and see Hasedera built along the slope of a wooded hill. One of the highlights of Hasedera is an amazing view from the slope on a terrace where you can catch breathtaking views of the coastal city of Kamakura. Hasedera is also famous for housing eleven-headed statue of Kannon - the goddess of mercy and hundreds of small Jizō statues.
In Hasedera, there are more than 2500 hydrangea trees and flowers in full bloom lined up, creating Hydrangea Path when summer comes.
Besides those interesting destinations above, Kamakura and its coastal neighbors also offer the chance to enjoy some sea and sand. Make your summertime meaningful with Asia Senses.