Kamakura, Hakone and Nikko are a few of recommended day trips from Tokyo. I had a free day and had a tough time making my choice, finally deciding on Kamakura. An hour by train from Tokyo, Kamakura is located in the Kanagawa Prefecture.

I arrived, not knowing much about this coastal town. I had no idea its size or how to get around. All I knew was Kamakura has a giant bronze Buddha statue, and bamboo trees at Hokokuji Temple. Thankfully, there was a Tourist Office at Kamakura’s station. The officer recommended some places of interest and general info on getting around (mainly bus).

I arrived at Hōkoku-ji Temple, to be greeted by amazing autumn foliage and quiet zen gardens.

autumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite WanderessIt was the second week of December and I’d never expected to see autumn foliage at all. Stepping into the temple grounds, I gasped in surprise. It was so beautiful.

autumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess

autumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderessautumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderessautumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite WanderessKamakura • The Petite Wanderessautumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess

Serenity at the zen garden
Further in, the autumn foliage within the inner grounds took my breath away. With such outbursts of colors among trees, plants, shrubs, a little zen garden ahead, and a little bamboo pipe dripping water melodiously into a tiny river, all my senses were captured right then. I took many photos, afraid my memory will fail me in future, before turning to mindfully appreciate the serenity and beauty in front of me.autumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderessautumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess

A Bamboo Garden
Hokokuji is known as the Bamboo Temple because of its bamboo garden within the temple grounds. Though a very small garden which you can walk through within minutes, the size and sheer height of the moso-bamboo (the biggest series of bamboo) from ground up were enough to overwhelm. When the sun shines through from the top and the trees sway in the wind with a hissing sound, you feel strangely enveloped by a sense of serenity. This memory became more distinct to me than experiencing Arashiyama’s famous bamboo grove.

autumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess

autumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderessautumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess

Great Buddha (Daibutsu)

After lunch at the train station, I took another bus to visit the Great Buddha. Again, autumn foliage awaits.

autumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderessautumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderessautumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderessautumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderessautumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderessautumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess autumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess

Took a walk down the road after leaving Daibutsu’s grounds since I have no more plans in Kamakura.

Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess

Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess

Not too long after, I saw signs leading to Hase-dera, and decided to visit it.

Hase-Kannon Temple (Hase-dera)

autumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess

The temple grounds have a pretty garden and ponds, an observation deck as well as a small cave where you need to duck to walk through.

(There are many staircases at this place.)

autumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderessautumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess

Hasedera Temple is known for its 9.18m-tall, wooden statue of Kannon (otherwise known as Guanyin – Goddess of Mercy), one of the finest wooden statues in Japan, housed in a hall. To pray for blessings, I lit a little candle and left it there, before leaving to explore the rest of the temple.

autumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderessautumn foliage in Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess

By 430pm in the season, the skies in Kamakura were already turning dark.

The next time I visit Kamakura, I’ll rent a bicycle to get around. With that, I made my way back to Tokyo.
Kamakura • The Petite Wanderess


Visited: Dec 2015

How to get to Kamakura from Shinjuku:
Method 1: The JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line train that is bound for Zushi (逗子) will stop at Kamakura (about one hour’s ride).
Method 2: Take JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line train and if the train is bound for Odawara, transfer at Ofuna towards Kamakura.
For other methods, refer to this page.
Tip: Kamakura Free Kankyo Tegata is a useful one-day bus pass which costs 570yen/adult, 290 yen/child, available for purchase at the Tourist Office at Kamakura station. The bus pass is not available for sale on 1-3 Jan.
Other resources referenced in this post: Japan-Guide | Kotoku-In