Starting the year with a visit to Kamakura

January is almost over, however the year has just begun! For visitors planning to explore Japan this year, why not add Kamakura to your list? It is a perfect day trip from Tokyo and can be combined with other attractions around the area!

Let’s start by having a look at how many Japanese start their New Year…

Kamakura’s Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is one of the most popular shrines during the New Year holiday. Hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the year, is a common custom for many Japanese, young and old, to start their new year.

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu on the first day of New Year

Many people visit shrines to make wishes for the year to come and to purchase lucky charms. Most shrines are open early and some get really busy for the first few days of New Year. So if you are planning to visit Tsurugaoka Hachimangu on New Year’s Day, be ready for a huge crowd!

Crowd queueing up for the first shrine visit of the year

The shrine is easily accessible from Kamakura Station. Just walk past the red torii gate near the station and along Komachi-dori, Kamakura’s popular shopping street that leads to the shrine!

Red torii gate near Kamakura Station

The good thing about being in Kamakura is that you will not be hungry at all. Apart from restaurants at every corner, there are also plenty of street snacks that you can buy or sample.

Senbei and other street snacks along Komachi-dori

During hatsumode, there will also be plenty of food festival vendors within the shrine. This creates an even more festive vibe, especially when you see little kids running around with candied apple on one hand!

Festival food vendors during hatsumode in Tusurogaoka Hachimangu

Even if you miss out on this yearly tradition, there is still plenty to see and buy while walking along Komachi-dori. We recommend visiting Donguri Kyouwakoku where you can find many Totoro and other famous Ghibli character goods.

Donguri Kyouwakoku (the Ghibli shop) in Kamakura

For photography enthusiasts, Kamakura is a wonderful visual experience that you will not want to miss!

Photogenic scenes during sunset in Kamakura

Known as “Small Kyoto” or “Kyoto of Eastern Japan”, Kamakura has many photogenic shrines and temples in its vicinity.

Hokokuji is one of the many shrines and temples that are located in Kamakura

Kamakura even has its own bamboo forest and a tea house next to it, so you can sip a cup of green tea while enjoying the view.

Hokokuji bamboo forest in Kamakura

So take your time to stroll along the busy shopping street or pick a nice quiet temple to appreciate the beauty… Either way, Kamakura will not disappoint.

Kamakura is perfect for a day trip

The best way to maximise your visit to Kamakura is to combine it with a trip to Enoshima using Odakyu’s Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass. Start your trip early from Shinjuku, visit Kamakura using the scenic Enoden line (as seen in Slam Dunk and other popular Japanese dramas), and end your trip with a nice walk around Enoshima while viewing the sunset and Mount Fuji in the background…

Now that’s a great way to start your year!

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