Kamakura is an hour's train ride from Tokyo, and is the former imperial capital. Regardless of whether you have done the route of the Great Buddha (Daibutsu) or come directly by train, it's a highly recommended place to visit. The area around the train station is full of people moving around. It's one of the favourite tourist spots for Tokyoites to escape the big city. It's well worth a walk down the Komachi Dori street, full of small Japanese souvenir shops. Nor do you want for food, with lots of restaurants, and even a burger joint in case you're missing western food. It's a comfy city to walk in and you can get to its main attractions without much effort. For those who want it, it's a safe bet that the traditional rickshaws taxis (Jinrikisha) will make it easy.
The Great Buddha of Kamakura (Japan), also called "Daibutsu", is not only a national and religious treasure but a true work of art. Cast of bronze in the 13th century, it has survived countless storms, fires, wars, and even a tsunami. Fitting for a deity of Buddhism that represents wisdom, tolerance, and peace.
The mountain Komaga-take is 1357 meters above sea level and is an excellent area to try to see Mount Fuji. I say try, because we did not have much luck when we climbed this peak on our first trip to Japan. To ascend to the top of Komaga-take, it is best to catch a cable car from Hakone. It's great fun, although those with vertigo better stay ashore. The cable car ride takes about 5 minutes and the return ticket costs 630 yen. From the top, the views are spectacular, even though we didn't have a great view of Fuji. However, you can see the lake and the occasional Shinto shrine. Of course, if you are from Tokyo, it is advisable to relax and disconnect outside the city. A little fresh air never hurt anyone, after all.
Although it is more commonly called Lake Ashinoko, this is not necessary. Its real name is Ashi (芦), no (ノ) is a link between the two words and Ko (湖), in Japanese, means lake. It would be best to call it Lake Ashi. It is one of the most famous and scenic places to visit in the area. As well as the calm waters of the lake, you can see Mount Fuji in the background on a clear day , along with the thick vegetation of the mountains. People often cross the lake in [poi = 78241] pirate galleons [/ poi], a form of transport which is not remotely related to the environment, but which is actually quite popular with Japanese tourists.
Very close to the train station in Hase (about 10 minutes walk) you will find this wonderful temple dedicated to the bodhisattva of mercy, Kannon. When entering we can find an amazing garden that will excite fans of photography, and even those who aren´t fans. On the way to the main campus you will see many statues dedicated to Jizo, Buddhist protective deity of travelers and unborn children or those who died before their parents. The main enclosure has the largest wooden statue in the country of Japan, a 11-faced Kannon, representing each step to enlightenment. Nearby we have a vantage point where you can have a fantastic view of the city of Kamakura.
The Yokohama Landmark Tower is the tallest building in Japan. It is situaed in Yokohama and is almost 300 meters high. It's full of shops, restaurants and offices, and you can go right up to the top with a lift in just 1 minute. If it's a clear day you might be able to see Mt. Fuji. If you go up at night, the city views are breathtaking.
Engakuji Temple in Kamakura is close to Kita Kamakura station where it is worth going go before arriving at Big Buddha. It is an ancient temple, founded in the year 1282, a year after the 2nd attempt of the Mongol invasion so its purpose was to honor the Japanese and Mongolian soldiers who died. The structures have been damaged by fire many times, but the truth is that the well preserved antiquity is still impressive. In this temple there is a big bell which is Japan's national heritage. Although the temple has one, what I liked best was part of the lake with wooden houses on a tiny hill. There is usually a monk with a long beard walking around, which adds mysticism to the place. Admission is 300 yen.
The black eggs of Owakudani are usually cooked in the sulphurous waters of [poi = 78236] Owakudani [/ poi], hence the black color of their shells, but on inside you have just an ordinary boiled egg. It's interesting that they have a small set of strings and pulleys to bring the boxes of eggs from the base station to the sulphurous water area to cook them there. According to the legend for each egg you eat, your longevity increases by seven years.
Owakudani (大 涌 谷) in Japanese literally means boiling the Great Valley, and it's no wonder why! It's a volcanic valley with active sulfur water geysers, which is really cool to see. It is a rather popular for its views, especially towards the [poi = 78232] Mount Fuji [/ poi]. It is also common to eat eggs boiled in sulfurous waters, called [poi = 78238] black eggs [/ poi].
After spending all day in Yokohama Chinatown, the largest one in Japan, I decided to walk to the Minato Mirai district. I discovered this park, extending over 750 meters into the docks of the city. This is certainly one of the most beautiful walks you can go on in the city. Weather permitting, you can find many locals sitting around enjoying the views. At first I sat on a bench at the entrance and then, resisting to leave, I sat at a small table at the end of the walk, quite near Minato Mirai. A Japanese lady invited me to sit with her and we conversed in English. I was amazed that a lady so old could speak English. I enjoyed the beautiful sunset. A can highly recommend this walk.
One of the most popular Shinto shrines in the city of Kamakura. It was constructed in the year 1063 in honor of Emperor Ojin, Minamoto no Yoritomo although it moved to its present location in the year 1191. You can walk around in peace and enjoy the environment around you.
One of the most amazing things that I enjoyed during my visit to Kamakura was in the Temple Kenchoji. It is a Zen garden with a beautiful pond, situated in the rear of the 2 story building called Kuri. The garden was designed by the priest Muso Soseki, one of the high priests of Zen gardens famous for its design like Myoko-chi, and the founder of Zuisenji, another Kamakura temple on its eastern side. It was the 1st Zen garden, but was renovated in the Edo period. They said that the best time to visit is in May when the flowers have bloomed (the flowers Rhododendron lateritium) and iris (Iris nertschinskia). The garden was remodeled in the year 2003 and no longer has these plants. A shame. Without a doubt a place any traveller can´t miss out on.
Yokohama Station is an important interchange, which is situated in the district of Nishi in the city of Yokohama. It is the busiest station in Kanagawa Prefecture and the fifth busiest in all of Japan. On a daily basis, it is used by about two million people. After several renovations, the current station was inaugurated in 1928. Many lines converge on this station, as it is very well connected to the city of Tokyo. However, if you want to use the bullet train (shinkansen), you have to catch it at Shin-Yokohama Station. At this station there is also a mall called "The Diamond" and lots of shops.
This is a forest with a path that is followed between trees. A Japanese home is here that the public can enter to take a look at how people lived at that time. It has been restored since 1965 and buildings from all regions in Japan were brought here, that is 23 different buildings. It's kind of village in the forest, so the walk is required. Inside the houses are preserved utensils typical of the time and can see teapots, farm implements or early versions of woven straw floor later evolved into the mats we know now. There is also a soba noodle restaurant, a stage featuring traditional Kabuki performances in specific days, and indigo dyeing workshop. To go, take the Odakyu line from Shinjuku Station to Mukogaokayuen.
The chapel is the last distant Enoshima Yasaka Jinja that we found in our journey in Enoshima. As one can imagine... It has a cave that is a small temple guarded by a dragon and an altar to the god Benten. Another interesting thing about this chapel is the existence of Enoshima turtle rock, which is considered sacred.