A thousand years ago, Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo looked on this narrow strip of coast, bounded on three sides by near impassable mountains and on the fourth by the sea, saw that it was a formidable natural fortress and adopted it as his power base. Thus Minamoto no Yoritomo became the first of the Kamakura shogun and very quickly a man so powerful he changed the nation.
This small town was never the official capital of Japan, which at that time was Kyoto, but its power often exceeded the capital and the other locus of influence, Edo (Tokyo).
The period of Kamakura’s ascendancy from the 12th to the 14th centuries, and especially Minamoto no Yoritomo’s rule was extraordinarily turbulent and violent — to a degree that has made it almost the stuff of legend and a source countless stories.
Kamakura was known as the Kyoto of the east not only because of its power, but also because of the huge number of ancient shrines and temples that collected in the old city, most of which still stand today. The treasures of this city are too numerous to list, but literally head and shoulders above all others is the massive bronze statue of Buddha. The Great Buddha of Kamakura is over 13m tall, weighs 120 tons and is made of bronze — given that is was cast in the 13th century, this is a monumental achievement in every sense of the word. War, storms, earthquakes, and tsunami have all tried to do away with this giant of devotion but it still stands today, as impressive for its resilience and age as for its size.
While the city oozes history and culture, it has one feature that is loved by the modern visitor: the beaches, where after soaking up the culture you can soak up some sun and a picnic.
Daibutsu - the big Buddha
The Bamboo Zen Garden
Hasedera, close to the Daibutsu big Buddha with views over Kamakura and sneaky hawks that will grab your snacks.
Zuisenji Zen Temple
Famous Zen temple and garden
Zeniarai Benten Shrine
Wash your cash here and watch it grow
Enoden railway line
Local train running through the town and along the coast
Enoshima Island connected to Kamakura by a bridge.
Stone Carving in Iwaya Cave on Enoshima