A couple of weekends ago I went to Kamakura with my friend Mayumi, and her friend Roomi. It was meant to snow or rain that day but luckily it didn’t!! I’ve been wanting to go to Kamakura since we moved here, because it has a lot of history. It was once the seat of the Shogunate and has an ancient giant Buddha statue (Daibutsu). It has also nice beaches, great cafes and a real artisan craft culture.
We met at Tokyo Station and got on the JR Tokaido Line for Kamakura. It was a pretty quick journey, only about 50 minutes. Our first stop was Kita Kamakura station, just 1 stop north of the main station. Mayumi had searched online and found a great organic cafe in a converted old house, so we headed there first. It was a bit early for lunch though and the kitchen was closed, so we walked around instead. We found a lot of small shops selling handmade crafts from Kamakura and around the world. We had lots of fun browsing all these handmade and zakka stores. I bought some things at a tiny store selling lots of cute things; my favourite thing was the delicious Taiwanese tea which came freeze-dried, and then unfurled into a big bunch of fragrant leaves in hot water.
We also talk a walk to a shrine famous for its hydrangeas in summer; Mei Getsu-in. It was pretty stark in winter, but still beautiful on a clear, sunny day. We saw the famous round moon window, a centuries-old cave with statues and some rabbits and squirrels!
We headed back to the cafe where we had organic chickpea curry and exotic tea; mine was Korean lily root which had a nice subtley sweet flavour.
We got back on the train and got off at Kamakura Station a few minutes South. It was sooo busy here, especially compared to peaceful Kita Kamakura. Everyone was visiting the famous Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū shrine for the new year. We wandered along the long main street which was full of cafes, small handmade stores and Japanese souvenir shops. Somehow I managed not to buy anything! We headed towards the Hachiman-gū shrine which was on a hill and reminded me a bit of the two famous shrines in Kyoto – Kiyumizudera and Fushimi Inari.
We headed back up the long street and had some delicious hot sweet sake (amaizake). We hopped on the vintage tram and made our way along the coast towards the place with the giant Buddha statue. It was a 10 minute walk from the station, walking along a street lined with old wooden buildings and traditional souvenir stores. We got to the Buddha and found it was completely under construction!! It turns out the bronze needs to be thoroughly cleaned once every 50 years.
We got back on the tram and had a nice sleepy ride around the rest of the coast and up to Fujisawa station. We caught the JR back to Tokyo Station which took about 50 mins.
It was a great day! We had lots of fun exploring and I can’t wait to go back in summer for some swimming.