If you're in Tokyo and don't have enough time to travel to another part of the country, hop on the train for an hour and spend some time in Kamakura, it's the perfect day trip!
As I reached the last leg of my trip, I had to start making my way closer to Tokyo since I would be flying out of Haneda Airport. However, having to be in the Tokyo area didn't necessarily mean I had to stay in the city. If you're anything like me and don't particularly like the crowds and fast pace of the city, then Kamakura is the perfect solution.
Unlike my previous blog posts, I'm going to combine my three days in Kamakura into one post. The reason for this is that I took it easy in Kamakura (like you should in a relaxing beach-town) and I spread my activities out over multiple days. That being said, you can easily do these activities in one or two days if you wanted to.
Day 1 - Unwinding by The Beach
The journey from Kyoto to Kamakura was convoluted and took longer than one would think because there's no direct train line. I had to take a train into Tokyo then backtrack about an hour to Kamakura.
Once I reached the station in Kamakura, it was another 20-minute walk to my hostel. My first impression of Kamakura was that the town had a relaxing vibe; people here seemed to move at a much slower pace than in Tokyo and they smiled a lot more. Although it's only an hour away from the city, it might as well have been a world away.
Once I checked into my hostel, I quickly realized that it was one of the best hostels I stayed on my trip and I definitely recommend staying at WeBase if you go to Kamakura. No, I am not sponsored in any way to recommend it to you, I honestly loved it because it was close to the station, almost right on the ocean, clean, professional, had yoga, a stocked lounge/kitchen and an amazing complimentary breakfast every morning!
The first thing I did after dropping off my bags was walk to the ocean. Unfortunately, It was a really windy day and sand kept blowing in my eyes so I couldn't stay on the beach for long.
I saw there was a tavern just across the street so I ordered a burger and an iced latte. After the crazy day I had, eating in front of the ocean and watching the waves crashing in front of me was the perfect way to unwind.
That evening, I hung out in the hostel's lounge for a couple hours and read some manga then I went to bed early. It was a pretty uneventful first day but sometimes you need those chill days to recuperate.
Day 2 - Shopping Day
I spent almost my entire second day in Kamakura exploring Komachi Street. This shopping street is right near the train station and is full of food, souvenirs, clothes and more.
The best part about Komachi Street was the samples! Almost every shop was giving out samples of their souvenir snacks (omiyage) and you better believe that I tried everything I could get my hands on. One of my favorite parts about traveling is immersing myself in another culture, and that includes being open to trying new foods as well.
The other great thing about Komachi Street was the Studio Ghibli store. I didn't even know there was a Ghibli shop in Kamakura but as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to scour every inch of the store. (In case you can't tell, I'm a die-hard Studio Ghibli fan).
Day 3 - Exploration
It wouldn't be a complete trip to Kamakura if I didn't visit some of it's famous landmarks. On my third day in Kamakura I walked to The Great Daibutsu (The Great Buddha) that Kamakura is famous for. It was amazing to go inside the Buddha and see how the huge statue was put together, piece by piece. But what was even more amazing was what I found when I walked beyond the Great Daibutsu grounds.
After I saw the statue and walked around the shops for a little bit, I decided that I would keep walking on the road behind the statue and see where it took me, and I'm glad I did. After a short walk along the main road, I came across a set of stairs heading up into the forest with no destination in sight. It looked like something the main character of a Ghibli film would come across that would lead to a grand adventure...so of course I had to see where it lead.
As soon as I got on the trail, the sounds of the city were cut off and were replaced by tweeting birds, buzzing cicadas and a light breeze rustling the leaves. To this day, I'm still not sure where that trail lead (if anywhere). I followed winding paths through the forest and rarely came across other people.
Suddenly, I heard footsteps behind me and turned around to see another female solo traveler, around my age, walking up the trail. After talking while hiking, it turned out that she was in almost the exact same situation as me. She had planned to go to Japan with somebody and the plans fell through last minute so she ended up going by herself. This girl was also an aspiring travel writer and was only one month older than me...it was the coincidence of a lifetime.
I ended up exploring Kamakura with my new travel buddy for about six hours. We walked to multiple Japanese gardens, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Hase Dera temple, and Hokokuji Temple.
By the way, if you want to see a bamboo forest but don't want to go to Kyoto or put up with the crowds of Arashayama, go to Hokokuji Temple in Kamakura. This temple has a beautiful, moss-covered bamboo forest behind it that not too many people know about.
After spending a whole day walking around Kamakura, our legs were aching and we decided it was time to part ways. One amazing thing about solo travel (and about travel in general) is the people you will meet along the way. The people you meet while traveling tend to be like-minded and have similar interests. I can't even tell you how many amazing conversations I've had with some truly inspirational strangers; I still talk to the girl I met in Kamakura to this day, even though we live on different sides of the world.
And with that, my third day in Kamakura came to an end. If you're visiting or living in Tokyo and don't have enough time to travel to another part of the country, hop on the train for an hour and spend some time in Kamakura. In addition to being a great destination for tourists, Kamakura is the perfect weekend getaway or day trip for burnt-out business-people who live in Tokyo or for college students. From shopping, to surfing, to sun-bathing, to sight-seeing, to hiking...there's something for everybody to enjoy in Kamakura!
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