Just a one-hour journey South from Tokyo by train, the small city of Kamakura is often considered one of the crowning jewels in the offerings for a weekend getaway. Kamakura is a popular summer destination thanks to its rich sailing culture and history as a beach resort. Another reason I love Kamakura is because of its vibrance and variety of local life. Kamakura has a great startup culture with startups like KAYAC creative company and KAMAKURA TOSHIN financial company. It’s a cultural melting pot with a long history from the shogunate era and a dynamic, vibrant atmosphere. Here is your complete first time guide to Kamakura to help you make the most of your visit.
1. Iwata Coffee on Komachi Street
Komachi Street is popular to enjoy many souvenir shops, nice cafes and Japanese restaurants. You have many eating options; Tempura, Sushi, French, Italian, Curry and many other asian foods. Iwata Coffee is a great little spot for a light breakfast. Visit to enjoy their famous pancake and degustation menu that features good-old diner.
2. Bakery Kibiya on Onari Street
Onari Street is located near the West Exit of Kamakura Station and is known for a dynamic foodie culture, where growers and producers, chefs, creative types and consumers are all closely connected. Onari Street has much fewer tourists and calm and sophisticated lifestyle shops and florists. If you love nice whole wheat bread, you can find it at Bakery Kibiya.
OUI OUI owned by Bakery Kibiya would be a good start to eating fine French made by Japanese. Every dish is full of local vegetables and the atmosphere is quite remarkable.
3. Kamakura Bungakukan
Kamakura Bungakukan is located near the town of Hase which has long been a home away from home for writers and artists. This house was once the second house of Toshinari Maeda. Today, it is home to the cultural hub of writers. One of the highlights of Kamakura Bungakukan is the English rose garden which showcases endless bushes of roses in every shade imaginable.
The best way to go to Kamakura Bungakukan from Kamakura Station is on foot, and there are nice cafes, bars, shops and historical houses and buildings along the way.
4. The Daibutsu: the Great Buddha
If this is your first trip to Kamakura you should make the Great Buddha your one stop, as it is here you will see the famous Bronze Buddha up close. Whilst here, be sure to experience going through the inner section of the Great Buddha which is believed to have been reborn.
5. Hasedera Temple
Located near the Great Buddha, Hasedera Temple has one of the prettiest gardens boasting the beautiful architecture of Hasedera Temple. The garden comes to life in June when hydrangeas start their days with blue and green colors.
6. vuori cafe
As one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Kamakura, I can never come to the city without a visit to vuori cafe. Here you’ll find some of the best quality coffee and handmade sweets. The cafe culture here is alive and kicking, with Cafe Sakanoshita and Namimachi Bagel. Be sure to walk around the small alleyways to find a little more under the radar and spend a long afternoon.
7. Yuigahama Beach
Not too far from Hasedera Temple, I would highly recommend a visit to Yuigahama Beach. The best time of day to visit Yuigahama Beach is in the mornings and early evenings, as this is less crowded and more of a local treasure than a tourist hotspot.
8. Funazen Japanese Restaurant
You can eat sushi at almost every turn in Japan, but if you were to ask where to brunch or lunch in Kamakura for sushi, Funazen will be hit up. This popular lunch spot has a range of sushi, sashimi and simmered local fish.
9. Enoshima Island
Enoshima Island can be reached in 30 minutes by train from Hase Station. Having visited Kamakura more times than I can count, I wanted to stay longer for a countryside escape. Enoshima Island has a long history as a worship place since the 17th-century and there are many options to stay at.
10. Kohori-noan Shaved Ice
While you’re on Enoshima Island, be sure to drop by Kohori-noan known for their generously sized shaved ices and various fresh flavors. This shaved ice shop prides itself on using the freshest ingredients to create its wonderfully snowy creations, making it one of the best places to go for shaved ice in Kamakura.