Under the wide-open sky sits the imposing bronze statue of the Great Buddha, Kamakura’s most popular attraction. It is a short 10-minute walk from the Hase Station on the Kamakura Enoden Line.
Also called Daibutsu, it is Japan’s second largest Buddha, second only to the Buddha in Nara’s Todaiji Temple. The inside of the statue is hollow and admission inside the body is permitted.
This temple, known as the 4th station among the 33 holy places in the Kanto area, houses the magnificent statue of Hase Kannon. According to legend, a large camphor tree was discovered near the village of Hase in the Nara region in 721 AD. The tree trunk was so large that two statues were carved from it; the lower part enshrined in Nara, the upper half was washed ashore not far from Kamakura.
Taking pictures of the Hase Kannon is not allowed but the spectacular views of the grounds and the Kannon-do Hall are sights that makes one appreciate Japanese history even more.
Along the flight of steps leading to the main hall are thousands of small statues of Jizo Bodhisattva. Jizo is believed to be a guardian deity of children, both alive and dead, and parents would even decorate the statues with small toys in hopes that the deity would protect their children.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
A day in Kamakura means a lot of walking, and one of the longer and more tiring walks is to Kamakura’s largest Shinto shrine – Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. There used to be a large ginkgo tree standing near the footsteps towards the main hall, but a storm in 2010 uprooted the tree and a marker is all that’s left in its place.
The town of Enoshima is connected by a bridge to the mythical island Enoshima, where Mt. Fuji can be seen on clear days. A half day is too short to explore all the sights the island has to offer, Benten Shrine, Iwaya Cave, temples, the lighthouse, and Samuel Cocking Gardens, among others.
Climbing up the Enoshima Lighthouse observation tower, known as the “Enoshima Sea Candle”, allows one to have spectacular 360-degree panoramic views of the island, Mt. Fuji, Izu Peninsula, mountains at Hakone and Tanzawa, Oshima Island, Miura Peninsula, and Yokohama Landmark Tower.
Since I went here in September, I was excited to wait for the sunset and hoped to witness Mt. Fuji diamond, a phenomenon that occurs when the setting sun goes on top of Mt. Fuji, and a rare view that looks like a diamond emerges. The clouds dampened my hopes of seeing the Mt. Fuji diamond, so I slowly inched my way back to the mainland.
If there’s one must-try local cuisine, then shirasu-don is the choice – a dish made of shirasu (tiny, white fish) caught fresh in Sagami Bay and eaten raw or cooked on top of a rice bowl.
Shirasu-don – juvenile sardines piled on a bed of rice in a bowl
I didn’t even have a glimpse of Mt. Fuji as the entire afternoon spent on the island was a bit cloudy. But as I was inside the train station back to Tokyo, Fuji-san in all her magnificence, showed herself to me!
How to Get There
The Enoshima Kamakura Freepass is the cheapest and most convenient way to get there. This includes a round-trip train ticket between Shinjuku and Kamakura, with unlimited stopovers on the Enoden and Odakyu Lines (Fujisawa Sta – Katase-Enoshima Sta). The ticket from Shinjuku costs ¥1470.
The trip takes about 60 minutes from Shinjuku to Fujisawa, then transfer to the Enoden Line to Kamakura for another 34 minute-ride. The freepass can also be used to avail of discounts and free gifts from various facilities in the area.