Kamakura - April 6th - 8th.

words and photos by Sharon Bader and Lee Lau unless otherwise noted.

Tokyo || Osaka || Nara || Kyoto || Kamakura - Day 2 || Kamakura - Day 3

Kamakura (鎌倉) is a small city in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, Japan.
Kamakura was the political capital of Japan during the Kamakura shogunate, from 1185 to 1333. It was and continues to be a popular destination for vacationing Japanese. It contains many shrines within easy walking distance and its on a beach that offers a view of Mt. Fuji when weather permits.

Outside Sensei's house in Kamakura.

Light lunch at a Sushi bar. Justin was pining for the boats.


Kamakurabori artist gallery.

Kamakurabori is known for its rich, lustrous finish and hardy, durable characteristics, making these products as practical and aesthetically pleasing to use today as they were centuries ago. The craft has its birth in the Kamakura Period, when Buddhist monks attempted to imitate the carving and lacquering techniques of Chinese artisans. Over the centuries the craft has been perfected to reflect uniquely Japanese sensibilities and has become a useful and esthetically pleasing art form enjoyed by people everywhere.

We then went to a Sword maker - Masamune - in Kamakura

Natan was trying them out.

Masamune sword shop

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine.

The largest Shinto shrine in otherwise almost solidly Buddhist Kamakura, built by Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-1199) founder of the Kamakura Shogunate and the first Shogun in the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). Just a bit north of the station, this shrine attracts a million visitors on New Year's Day to see the first sunrise of the year (Japan Rail runs trains all night long). If you're lucky, you may see a traditional wedding going on in the plaza in front of the main shrine. The Ritual Dance Stage (舞殿) is the spot where Yoritomo forced the hunted Yoshitsune's Lady Shizuka to perform a dance for him. Rather than celebrating Yoritomo, Lady Shizuka's dance expressed her love for Yoshitsune and her sorrow at his plight. This event is commemorated during the Kamakura Festival in April. Twice each year, in the spring and fall, you can watch demonstrations of Yabusame (archery from galloping horseback, in full samurai regalia) at Hachiman-gu.

Justin in front of Hachiman-gu


1000 year old Ginko tree that blew down this year. As trees hold a certain spiritual significance there was much mourning when this tree fell. But the old root is sprouting!

Animals on the sides of the shrine.

Hachiman-gu pond

Bridge to another garden area.

Pathway - called Dankazura - leading through Kamakura to the shrine. This was used by the Samarai as their route to the shrine when they entered town.

photo by Natan Cheifetz

Entrance to the shrine.

Light dinner at Sensei's

Sensei's kids

Lexy and Billy

Light dinner from Masa!

Sensei rides his bike to class

Aikido at Hachimangu Budojo with Numata Sensei.

Day 2 in Kamakura
- Walk on the beach and Enoshima Spa.

Breakfast at the KKR.

Photo by Natan Cheifetz

While the rest of us were sleeping or sitting in the spa, Natan was out taking pictures!

Kōtokuin (高徳院). Home of the famous Great Buddha (大仏 Daibutsu), a bronze statue of Amida that at 13.35 meters is the second largest in Japan (second only to that in Nara's Todaiji). Thought to be cast in 1252, the statue was originally housed in a giant temple hall, but the building was washed away in a tsunami.

Photo by Natan Cheifetz

Sensei came by at 9:30 to take us on his daily walk with Lexy.

As you can clearly see... Mt Fuji is visible from here!

photo by Natan Cheifetz

This is a popular wind surfing beach.

Even Lexy wants to learn!

Tide is high! The group of photographers in the back are taking pictures of a rare SMALL bird.

Group shot at Zushi Marina.

Mmmm canned coffee.

photo by Natan Cheifetz

Komyoji Shrine

The Main Hall.

The Zen Garden.

Can you see the cat in the gravel in the back!

Then a traditional Japanese lunch at Denny's!

After lunch we went to Enoshima Island and the very nice spa that is there.

Sensei and the dragon.

Enoshima Spa, the right balcony is the spa looking over the ocean.

Guardian of the shrine.

One of the Deities

View from the top of the hill where the Shrine sits overlooking Enoshima Bridge.

Local delicacy. If you know what it is you probably like it, if you don't... don't ask...

Enoshima Spa!

View from our dinner table.

Dinner time!

photo by Natan Cheifetz


Day 3 - Rented a bike and rode to some Shrines!

The sun continued to shine and our legs were done walking. So we rented some bikes and rode around Kamakura to visit some more shrines!

Rona and Natan on the beach!

Justin had to rent a nicer bike so he could practice some trials.

View towards Enoshima.

Our first stop after coffee was the Great Buddha - Daibutsu - the second largest bronze Buddha standing at 13.4m after the one at Todai-ji. This is another Amida Buddha. Constructed in 1252 it was previously housed in a great hall that was destroyed by winds in 1334 and 1369 and never rebuilt.

We then went to Hase-dera which is very close to Daibutsu.

Jizo-do Hall - Shrine housing "Happy" Jizo. Surrounding the shrine are 1000 Jizo stones which are their to comfort the souls of unborn children.

Amida - do hall contains Yakuyoke - protector from evil spirits.

Buddha statue in front of the Kannon -do Hall that we can't photo.

Garden at Hase-dera

Diety in front of Benten Katsu Cave.

Benten Katsu Cave - According to legend, Kobo Daishi carved a small statue of Benzaiten with 8 arms while in seclusion and inspired by Buddha. The cave contains Benzaiten and 16 children. Benzaiten is a sea goddess, she is the patron of music, the find arts, and good fortune in general.

After seeing the shrines we starting riding around and happened upon this place for lunch!

Tukiyama - lunch spot.

We got back down to the beach and Natan saw some birds that he had to get close to so he could take some pictures.

All along the beach were MANY hawks flying around.

Photo by Natan Cheifetz

Photo by Natan Cheifetz

We then rode back into Kamakura, up the main road towards Hachiman and beyond to North Kamakura to Engaku-ji. This is a Zen temple inspired 700 years ago after Mongols attacked Japan, it was build by Tokimune and called Engaku-Kyo - the Sutra of Perfect Enlightmenment - to hold a mass for the mongol and japanese souls lost during this fighting.

Justin and Natan.

Pond at Engaku-ji

A monk heading to one of the temples.

For our last dinner in Kamakura we had Okonomiyake - An Osaka traditional dinner. Translated it means 'pancake' it is a fried assortment of food.

The creation.

Natan does the flip to cook the other side which is then smothered in sauce and fish flakes.