Kamakura is a small coastal city south of Yokohama that is nestled among steep hills and verdant forests and is chock-full of temples and shrines. It is sometimes referred to as the Kyoto of Eastern Japan because of all the holy sites. For those of us interested in rambling and hiking, Kamakura offers a lot of pathways trekking through the hills from temple to temple, and down to the sandy beaches and the world-famous Daibutsu statue, the Great Buddha, which dates from around the 13th century.
The trail I took is sometimes called the Daibutsu Hiking Trail, leading from the Jōchi-ji temple to the Great Buddha statue (Daibutsu). The Jōchi-ji temple is very close to the Kita-Kamakura train station in the northern parts of the city. The trail is quite short, and for an experienced walker is easily traversed in an hour and a half if you don’t make any stops. But the whole point of this trail is to experience all the wonderful sights along the way! Be prepared to take your time walking through temple gardens, examining statues of foxes, visiting small shrines and experiencing the beauty of the lush forested hills and catching sights of splendorous butterflies and elusive birds.
The trails in Kamakura are all quite weather dependent and probably aren’t very enjoyable during or after heavy rains. Check local sources if you’re unsure of if and when it’s best to visit. I traversed through Kamakura in late Spring before the rain period and everything was dry and well-kept. There was a lot of preparations for the coming rains though, such as people digging small troughs for water to drain away from the trail, and new signs being posted about the (coming) mud. My personal preference for these shorter kinds of trails is that you need good weather for them to be enjoyable. They are supposed to let you experience the history and the surroundings of the places you are visiting, not be an obstacle to force through to your destination.
As mentioned above, the trail is not too long and can be traversed in a couple of hours without too much exertion. In some places, the path is rather steep, but there are well-maintained steps and handrails to help you up or down without any difficulties.
The Daibutsu Hiking Trail in Kamakura is worthwhile for all visitors to this part of the world. There are some stunning views as well as lush forests along the path where there is ample opportunity to see the local birdlife and beautiful butterflies. Considering the number of different temples the trail winds past, you could stay for hours and hours if you wish to explore them all.
How to get to the trail from Tokyo
The easiest way to get to the Daibutsu Hiking Trail from Tokyo is to travel to the Kita-Kamakura train station. At the time of writing you use the JR Yokosuka Line which takes about an hour from Tokyo Station.
After walking the trail through the steep hilly areas of Kamakura, a short break by the sea is worth a lot! As this was in late May, there were very few other people present.