03 Aug Kamakura and Enoshima day trip from Tokyo
We had a day left on our 7-day JR pass and although we had already made it pay off, we thought we would use it for a day trip to Kamakura and Enoshima.
Tokyo to Kamakura
We left our airbnb apartment just before 9am. After choosing a route that only required one transfer, we ended up having to transfer twice. From Yoyogi station, we went to Shinagawa station and somehow miss-read signs and ended up on the wrong side of the platform. This made us miss the train. So, we then took another train to Totsuka station to meet the train we missed and get to Kamakura.
The Great Buddha at Kotoku-in
Once at Kamakura station we decided to walk to Kotoku-in temple to view The Great Buddha statue. Outside of the station a man was handing out area maps, I went and got an English version from him. It was a 1.7 km walk from the station to the temple. Along the way Fletcher got tired so we reclined the stroller and slowed our walking pace down. He still wasn’t quite asleep when we reached the temple, so we had to take turns pushing the stroller around while the other looked at The Great Buddha.
The Great Buddha of Kamakura is the second largest Buddha statue in Japan, behind the one in Nara’s Todaiji Temple. Kamakura’s bronze Buddha is just over 13 metres tall. It was originally located inside a temple building but over time the building was destroyed by typhoons and a tidal wave. The Great Buddha was cast in 1252 and has stood alone in the open air since 1495. I enjoyed viewing this large Buddha statue more than the one in Todaiji temple, I think it was impressive because it stood alone and being in the open meant it was easier to get a good view of the statue.
Strolling around Kamakura
After viewing The Great Buddha, we walked to Hase Temple (Hasedera). When we got there we realised it wouldn’t be possible to enter the grounds while Fletcher was sleeping in the stroller. Just beyond the entrance was a large set of stairs. We decided to walk back to a stall we had passed and buy a cup of hot garlic potato chips they were selling. They had smelled delicious and after waiting for them to be freshly cooked we found out they really were as good as they smelt. With Fletcher still sleeping, we strolled around Kamakura and got a little lost. That’s the best way to see a place, right?
We found our way and headed towards Tsuragaoka Hachimangu. When Fletcher woke up we got some lunch from a supermarket and ate on a bench seat outside. We then followed the path to the shrine which, was marked by a large torii gate. Fletcher was now ready to stretch his legs and this was a good place to do so as it was separated from any traffic. We walked along and came across tiny dogs in costumes.
As we got closer to the shrine we saw people dressed up in Kimonos and suits and a lot of them had children that were in traditional dress. After crossing the road onto the shrine grounds we saw a Shinto wedding party having photos taken.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu was founded in 1063 and enlarged and moved to its current site in 1180. It is Kamakura’s most important shrine. The main hall sits up on top of a large staircase. Before making our way up to the main hall, we wandered along the left of the shrine, viewing a display of impressive bonsai plants.
It was a slow climb up the steps as Fletcher insisted on getting up all by himself. Standing at the top in front of the main hall gives a view of the Maiden down below. You also get a view of the torii gates that are spread along the approach to the shrine. The Maiden, which is located at the bottom of the staircase, is a stage used for performances and dances. On our way out the wedding party were seated inside with guests gathered around the outside.
Kamakura to Enoshima
After Tsurugaoka Hachimangu we walked back to Kamakura station. From there we took the electric railway to Enoshima Station. The twenty four minute journey is an interesting one, with plenty to see along the way. At first you pass houses that are right alongside the track. At one point it is in the middle of a road and then it follows the ocean. After arriving at Enoshima station we walked across the long bridge onto the island.
The beach area below didn’t look very attractive with piles of seaweed and a dark dirty coloured sand. It was however October, so well outside of beach season. The beaches around Enoshima are popular spots and become crowded with Japanese people taking a break during the summer months.
We got to the end of the bridge and walked up the hill towards Enoshima shrine. After finding the entrance to the escalators, we weren’t sure there was enough time. It was now late afternoon and we still had to walk back to Enoshima station, get a train to Kamakura then Yoyogi station. It would make for a long day and the shrine was nearing closing time. So, we decided to skip it and walked back down. On the way we stopped to browse in some of the stores. I bought a cheap turtle bubble blower for Fletcher and an ice-cream that he finished off while we walked back to Enoshima station.
Enoshima to Tokyo
The ride to Kamakura station was very cramped and uncomfortable. On our journey back to Yoyogi station, Fletcher was getting cranky, so we gave him the iPad and headphones. This was the first time we had done so and afterwards wondered why it had taken us so long. It meant we had a stress free journey back without having to try keep him happy and not bother other commuters. We made it into Yoyogi station at about 6pm, picking up some dinner from the konbini (convenience store) on our way to the apartment.
Kamakura and Enoshima in one day
I had big expectations of a day trip to Kamakura and Enoshima during the trip planning. There were so many ancient sights around Kamakura and it gave the impression of having a lovely charm. Unfortunately my expectations weren’t met. In place of small town charm, Kamakura was overcrowded and very touristy. As Fletcher was sleeping in the stroller we were limited as to what we could do. We only seen two main sights and although I did enjoy both, I had been hoping to visit some of the lesser known sights of Kamakura. We should have made our way to one of them instead of heading to Enoshima as by the time we got there, we ended up turning around and going back. There just wasn’t enough time to take in all of what this area has to offer.