Kamakura, an ancient capital city during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), may not be as popular as Kyoto, but it is one of the few places near Tokyo where visitors can explore the nation’s ancient history.
Currently major tourist draws, the Great Buddha statue, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and other temples and shrines dotting the area reflect the power of the Kamakura shogunate (1192-1333) of times past.
Strolling through the bamboo garden at Hokokuji Temple, tourists can easily forget that it’s just an hour’s train ride from skyscraper-filled Tokyo. Visitors can enjoy the tranquility of the garden, which sports some 2,000 stalks of bamboo, while sipping matcha green tea at the temple cafe.
A little closer to Kamakura Station, many students on field trips as well as tourists flock to Tsurugaoka shrine even on weekdays via the Dankazura, a walking approach route that was recently refurbished. Visitors should bear in mind that on weekends the area around the shrine can get heavily congested as thousands of people descend on it.
But Kamakura boasts more than just ancient history.
The city is also home to the Shonan area, known for its popular surfing spots and beaches. Shonan attracts residents who commute to Tokyo but still want to live in a rural but hip seaside town.
This section, appearing in the first week of each month, explores in photographs neighborhoods of interest.