Recently I went on a trip to Japan and fancied a day out the city from Tokyo. I was hemming and hawing for a while on were to go but decided on Kamakura in the end mainly, it was by the ocean and had good reviews. So glad I did! Because it turned out to be one of my favourite/most memorable days of 4 months of travel and one I look back on very fondly. Imagine it to be like what Brighton is for Londoners, a quiet city escape by the ocean and super close. Here is what I got up to:
1.5 HOUR JOURNEY
Worth getting up a little early because it always takes a little longer navigating from Tokyo and different stations. I got confused a few times! Even with google maps and asking locals, I guess it is a good thing to start early. Because people go by the Japanese language and they use a lot of sign language.
Morning – Temple / Bamboo forest / Matcha tea
I arrived late morning and it was brilliant sunshine, then took around a 3-minute walk to Kamakura Komachidori-Dori street. Yes, it is super touristy and busy but it is a nice introduction into the town and can pick up snacks and local pottery here (I got some cups!). Make sure you try these peanut cracker snacks in one of the shops on this street. Annoyingly I forgot the name of the place but they have these snacks you can try (to die for! I had to remove myself from the shop) and came in an assortment of flavours: wasabi, blueberry, strawberry flavoured.
After this I walked to the Yukinoshita temple…this is just off of the Kamakura Komachidori-Dori street (around a 10 min walk). You don’t have to pay to get in and takes about 30-45 minutes to look around. I have to admit – I have been travelling Asia for 4 months so was a bit temple-d out at this point (apparently it is an actual thing!). However, it was stunning and the most important Shinto shrine of Kamakura so certainly worth a visit.
Then I took a 20 min walk to the bamboo forest called Hōkoku-ji. It was a little tricky to find the entrance as I walked there from the temple, but WOW! So glad I visited, it was a small garden of Zen Buddhism. Perfect place to cool down after walking in the heat, I had a quiet stroll here. Also make sure to try the traditional matcha tea! You sit out and enjoy the tranquil bamboo forest with matcha made by geishas.
Afternoon – Traditional Japanese Onsen + Sunset
I am not huge on doing touristy things for the sake of it (as my long suffering boyfriend knows from experience!) and as I was on my own I decided to treat myself to something I would really, really enjoy and haven’t tried yet…… a traditional Onsen Spa!
Inamuragasaki Hot Spring is the major one in town and you have to jump on a train 2-3 stops to get there. It was super quiet, local and very NAKED! As a British person I think I manage to get climatise to this fairly quickly. Also worth noting if you go as a couple, men and women are separate with different areas. Additional you can visit if you have tattoos as well, which seemed to be an issue (as I found out) in some of the Tokyo based Onsens.
What I didn’t expect was the blackened water from the natural springs, I wish I had some pictures because it looked stunning against the backdrop of blue sky, sunlight coming in and wooden panels. However, it didn’t feel like the right place to start taking pictures especially as I was alone! The place was well equipe with 3 pools, a sauna and also natural shampoos, conditioners, which was nice to not have to bring with you on a day trip
After I felt a bit sleepy and rested after chilling out in the Onsen pools, so crossed the road about 30 meters towards the ocean to watched the sun set on the beachy area at the front of the Onsen. It was on the side of a cliff-face and beautiful to watch the golden light come down on a perfect day (awhh I can be romantic sometimes!).
Evening – Soba noodles + whiskey cocktails
In the evening I did a quick google search for nice places to eat traditional Japanese food. The one that came up was a soba noodle restaurant called Matsubaraan which seem to have a lot of positive reviews.
I think I fell into a lot of luck today because this restaurant was the perfect end to an amazing day! The restaurant was set in a traditional Japanese style house with sliding doors, you take your shoes off and overall atmosphere was very peaceful. I think if you were with friends or a rowdy group it would have been better to sit outside in the patio.
I would really recommend their whiskey and soda cocktail, sashimi and will admit noodles are not my favourite food ever but these noodles had a delicate smoky flavour.
And there we have it, the perfect day in Kamakura!