Less than an hour away from Tokyo, Kamakura was once the center of political government in the country during the Kamakura Shogunate. After the fall of the Kamakura Shogunate, the majority of the population moved to Tokyo and only left around 7,000 people in the city.
It wasn’t long before Kamakura turned from an important political city to a small fishing village. Even so, the temples, shrines and other historical monuments that once prospered during its golden era still remains in Kamakura and is now a very popular tourist destination.
Take a peek and see these amazing temples and shrines in the beautiful city of Kamakura
1. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine (鶴岡八幡宮)
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is considered as the most important Shinto shrine in Kamakura and is dedicated to the patron god Hachiman. Surprisingly, in the past, it also served as a Tendai Buddhist Temple which is not known to many people. The shrine also houses the deified spirit of Emperor Ojin along with his wife Hime-gami and her mother Empress Jingu. Hachimangu Shrine can get very crowded especially during festivals, which makes the place more lively.
Address: 2-1-31 Yukinoshita, Kamakura 248-0005, Kanagawa
2. Kotokuin Temple (高徳院) /Great Buddha (Daibutsu)
Have you heard about the famous Giant Buddha of Kamakura? If not, then it would be best to add Kotokuin Temple in your itinerary. It is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan with a height of 13.35 meters and weighs 121 tons. If you like, you can even enter and look inside the statue! You can’t afford to miss visiting Kotokuin Temple when you visit Kamakura.
Address: 4-2-28 Hase, Kamakura 248-0016, Kanagawa
3. Hasedera Temple (長谷寺)
Hasedera Temple (usually called Hase-Kannon) houses the famous eleven headed statue of the goddess Kannon. The statue of Kannon has a height of 9.18 meters and made up of camphor wood, gilded in gold. Hasedera Temple is located halfway up on Mount Kamakura and gives an impressive view of the city of Yuigahama. Hasedera Temple is also famous for its seasonal flowers, especially the hydrangea in June.
Address: 3-11-2 Hase, Kamakura 248-0016, Kanagawa
4. Meigetsuin Temple (明月院)
Meigetsuin, the famous Hydrangea Temple of Kamakura was founded in 1160. Contrary to popular belief, the Hydrangea flowers are only a recent addition to the temple because the location is suitable for the flowers to grow. When summer arrives, the flowers are in full bloom and a steady stream of visitors frequent the temple just to see the beautiful flowers of Meigetsuin. The circular window looks like a moon and is especially beautiful in autumn, when the leaves changes its color.
Address: 189 Yamanouchi, Kamakura 247-0062, Kanagawa
5. Zeniarai Benten (銭洗弁天)
Zeniarai Benten is a unique temple that is found on the western part of Kamakura. The founder of the Kamakura Government, Minamoto Yoritomo had a dream on which a god told him to build a temple in order to bring peace to the country. The locals believe that if you “wash” your money on the temple’s spring, your money will be doubled.
Address: 2-25-16 Sasuke, Kamakura 248-0017, Kanagawa
6. Hokokuji Temple (報国寺)
Hokokuji Temple which is located in the eastern part of Kamakura is famed for its bamboo garden. The bamboo garden is found behind the temple, and for a small fee, you will be able to enjoy a drink of their matcha tea along with a few sweets.
Address: 2-7-4 Jomyoji, Kamakura 248-0003, Kanagawa
7. Kenchoji Temple (建長寺)
Kenchoji Temple is the oldest Buddhist Temple in Kamakura. It was founded in 1253 and is one of Kamakura’s five great Zen Temples. Due to its rank, the temple grounds is clean and well maintained. There are many important cultural properties in Kenchoji Temple, such as Butsuden (Buddha Hall) and Karamon (Grand Gate).
Address: 8 Yamanouchi, Kamakura 247-0062, Kanagawa
Website: http://www.kenchoji.com (Japanese Only)
8. Engakuji Temple (円覚寺)
Engakuji Temple which is located in the forested hills of Kamakura is built to honor the fallen Japanese and Mongolian soldiers during the Mongol Invasion. The temple that was founded in 1282, holds the second rank among the five great Zen Temple of Kamakura. The best time to visit Engakuji Temple is during autumn, because of the beautiful display of colors from the maple leaves that surrounds the temple grounds.
Address: 409 Yamanouchi, Kamakura 247-0062, Kanagawa
Website: http://www.engakuji.or.jp (Japanese Only)
9. Jojuin Temple (成就院)
More than two thousand hydrangea flowers in full bloom, and a scenic view of Shonan Beach makes Jojuin Temple a hotspot for tourists during summer in Kamakura. Jojuin Temple was established in 1219 by the third regent of the Kamakura Shogunate. Aside from the beautiful scenery, the temple is famous for couples because they believe that the temple specializes in successful love relationships.
Address: 1-1-5 Gokurakuji, Kamakura 248-0023 , Kanagawa
10. Zuisenji Temple (瑞泉寺)
Zuisenji is one of the masterpieces by the famous garden designer Muso Kokushi. Most of the buildings in Zuisenji Temple was re-built after the Taisho Period. The temple has a large number of Plume trees which displays their full splendor during autumn.
Address: 710 Nikaido, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa
All information in this article is as of January 2017.
Thumbnail image is from Flickr