Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Kamakura (鎌倉)

Kamakura is a city with two important properties - it is one of the oldest cities in Japan and it has nice beaches. Of course the temperature hanging around 5 degrees Celcius (around 41 degrees Fahrenheit) it is not exactly the best weather for a swim but there is a lot to be discovered in Kamakura even without the beaches. The city is home to the second biggest sitting Buddha statue in Japan (the first one is in Nara/奈良) and it is home to literally tens of temples and shrines. The city also briefly acted as effectively the capital of Japan for a while in the 15th or 14th century (I might be off by a century or two :P).

Travelling from Tokyo to Kamakura is either by train (JR line) or by car. I was fortunate enough to be travelling with a colleague who has a car (thanks again Kota and Momoe) and the trip took around an hour. The distance is not that much (50 km or 31 miles) but the road gets very narrow as one gets close to Kamakura. The trip through the city streets and the time needed to find parking takes almost as much as the trip to get to the city. The parking lots around the famous Tsurugaoka Hachimango shrine are numerous but almost all will be full. Also be ready to pay around ¥300 or more for half an hour of parking.

Other than the shrines there is also a famous shopping street close to the Tsurugaoka Hachimango, very crowded and with lots of stores. The restaurants in the area, as well as these stores, are very familiar with tourists so it is a pretty good probability that one can find menus or explanations in English even though the vendors or the waiters/waitresses themselves may not be able to speak a word of English.

1 comment:

Betty said...

Still thinking about getting a car to drive in Japan? :P