Kamakura and Daibutsu

It’s only November, but here in Boston it already feels like the dead of winter.  To escape the cold, I’m revisiting Kamakura on today’s Travel Tuesday, and exploring a town with both history and fun in the sun.

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Kamakura is located in the Kanagawa prefecture of Japan, about 30 miles southwest of Tokyo. Although it’s a small town, Kamakura used to be a formal capital of Japan and served as the seat of the shogunate (feudal government system) during the Kamakura period (1185-1333). Because of its proximity to the city and its many attractions, Kamakura is a popular tourist destination year round.

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I first visited Kamakura during early September and headed straight for the beach, which is extremely popular during the summer months. Even though it was still 95 degrees out, we arrived shortly after the end of the official season and had the beach almost entirely to ourselves.

DSC_0889DSC_0899DSC_0918If you ever visit a beach in Japan, keep an eye out for sea glass! I never realized how interesting it could be in other countries, and I collected a wide variety of pottery shards, sea-green glass, and even part of a teapot.

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Watching the sunset on the beach is also a perfect way to end a day in the sand before heading back to the nearby train station.

DSC_1082DSC_1144 If you’re interested in sightseeing or you visit during the cooler months, Kamakura still has plenty to see and do. The city has a dozen temples and shrines to visit, great shopping for traditional souvenirs, and tons of delicious restaurants.

DSC_2886DSC_2940One of the most famous sights of Kamakura, is the Daibutsu, or Great Buddha. This towering bronze statue was built in 1252, and despite a series of earthquakes and storms, still stands proudly today. Daibutsu is approximately 44 feet tall, weighs a whopping 267,000 pounds, and is one of Japan’s most iconic symbols.

The ticket to see Daibutsu

The ticket to see Daibutsu

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Hundreds of tourists flock here everyday to see the giant Buddha, pay their respects, pray, and even purchase charms that will help them succeed in daily life. I bought a small token that was good for one wish, which I spent standing in front of Daibutsu.

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A small charm that I purchased at Daibutsu. This particular token was good for one wish, which I asked for in front of the Great Buddha. Don't ask me what it is though, or it won't come true!

A small charm that I purchased at Daibutsu. This particular token was good for one wish, which I asked for in front of the Great Buddha. Don’t ask me what it is though, or it won’t come true!

Because of its popularity with tourists, Kamakura also has tons of souvenir shops, unique crafts for sale, and many different types of cuisine. I ate Hawaiian food twice when I visited, which I had never tried before (even in the US!).

Handmade pottery

Handmade pottery

A Miyazaki shop! Miyazaki Hayao is a famous Japanese director (kind of like the Walt Disney of Japan). You can find shops with cute products from his films all across Japan.

A Miyazaki shop! Miyazaki Hayao is a famous Japanese director (kind of like the Walt Disney of Japan). You can find shops with cute products from his films all across Japan.

Sometimes, I missed American food in Japan. This burger at a Hawaiian restaurant near the beach really hit the spot.

Sometimes, I missed American food in Japan. This burger at a Hawaiian restaurant near the beach really hit the spot.

Another Hawaiian meal. A fried egg and gravy over rice.

Another Hawaiian meal. A fried egg and gravy over rice.

My favorite food, however, was the sweet potato ice cream. It’s made with murasaki-imo, which give it a nice purple color. It’s deliciously sweet and mellow, and unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. It seems to be a specialty in Kamakura, as we passed many different booths and cafes offering this unique flavor.

Sweet potato ice cream. This was probably the best ice cream I had in Japan…I wish I could find it in the US!

Sweet potato ice cream. This was probably the best ice cream I had in Japan…I wish I could find it in the US!

Whether you want to learn a little history or just enjoy a day on the beach, Kamakura has something for everyone.  Although it’s about an hour by train from the center of Tokyo, it’s another wonderful chance to get outside the city and experience a little more of the amazing sights Japan has to offer.

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6 thoughts on “Kamakura and Daibutsu

  1. I love the shape of the cones: Must have prevented messy drips…? I won’t ask what your wish was, but do you believe Daibutsu will assist in making it come true?

    • The cones tasted the same as they do in America, but they were really cool! I think ice cream is pretty messy no matter what you eat it in. And I certainly hope Daibutsu will help me! I carry the charm around in my wallet to this day to remind me of what I want to achieve (:

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