The Giant Buddha
I finally made it out to Kamakura! Built over 750 years ago, The “Daibutsu”, or “Giant Buddha” of Kamakura lies in the center of a maze of easy hiking trails, temples and shrines. This conglomerate of temples should most definitely be on your list of things to see while in Japan. Not only can you see one of the coolest World Heritage Sites in the world, but you can actually go inside Buddha’s belly and view how the giant statue was constructed. Apparently, it took over 30 stages to assemble this particular statue. Luckily for me, the Yokohama countryside where Kamakura is located is just a short train ride from Central Tokyo.
Just take the Yokosuka train line approximately 1 hour from Shinjuku, Tokyo’s largest downtown area. (Train fare runs about 2000 yen total). It costs 200 yen to enter Daibutsu area, and approximately 200-300 yen per temple you want to visit in the surrounding areas. I recommend the Hase-Dera temple.
Just down the street from the Buddha is Hase-dera Temple, one of the coolest places in the region. Thousands of tiny Buddha statues flank a cave cut into the walls of the mountain, and there are 3 elaborate gold statues ranging from 3-10 meters tall. The restaurant near the top of the temple isn’t that expensive either, and has some decent hot Udon soup.
It’s a huge faux-paus to take photos of these gold Buddhas (unlike most other places in Asia!), so my words will have to suffice: between the exquisite gold decor, the lotus blossom wall, and the hand-painted ceilings, this temple is well worth the train ride to visit.
Hiking around Kamakura
Hiking Time: 2 hours
I hiked the Daibutsu Hiking trail. In the map below, its the red line that connects the Daibutsu (in the lower left) with the Yokosuka train station Â During fall, the trail has some spectacular views of the forest as it changes color. The trail head starts just beyond the Great Buddha temple, with the entrance just to the right of the traffic tunnel. ( Make sure you stop and grab an ice cream cone on your way up….the chestnut and chocolate flavor was the best!)
Have you been to Kamakura? What was your favorite day trip from Tokyo?