Kamakura is beautifully located by the sea, and is backed and surrounded by small mountains. In the hills surrounding Kamakura there are a number of beautiful forest trails. These trails make for a great escape from the city, and provide a good way to walk between some of the areas major attractions and temples while enjoying the view.
The trails can be divided into 3 trails, or areas, around Kamakura. Together the 3 trail networks nearly encircle the city, so it is technically possible to walk all the way around Kamakura. Be prepared though that the trails are of different difficulty levels, and all of them require proper footwear.
- Kuzuharaoka Daibutsu Trails (Western)
- Tenen Trails (Northern)
- Gionyama Trail (Eastern)
Map of Kamakura Hiking Trails
Length: 6km (3.7mi) Difficulty: Easy Time: 90 minutes
The Daibutsu hiking trail runs between the Great Buddha (Daibutsu) in the south and the Jochi-ji Zen temple towards north. The trail passes by the unique “money washing” shrine Zeniarai Benten where you can branch off the trail and head to Jufuku-ji (the first of the 5 important zen temple in Kakamkura) and return to the city, or continue to Jochi-ji – another of the 5 most important zen temples in Kamakura. Near Jochi-ji are also Engaku-ji temple an Kencho-ji temple, 2 more of the 5 important zen temples. Right next to Kencho-ji it’s possible to continue on the Tennen trail by foot, for a longer hike which ends near the 5th and last of the five temples.
Length: 7km (4.5mi) Difficulty: Medium Time: 90 minutes
The Tenen Trail starts at Kencho-ji zen temple, and stretches approximately 7 km along the mountain ridge. The trail has great views when the foliage allows it. There are several points along the trail where one can branch off to return to the city. If you stay on the trail until the end you’ll end up at the Zuisen-ji Temple in the north-eastern part of Kamakura. A short walk from there is Jomyo-ji temple, the last of the 5 important zen temples of Kamakura. This trail is less accessible, so be prepared for stairs, bad signage and paths.
Length: 4km (2.5mi) Difficulty: Easy Time: 60 minutes
The Gionyama trail is located on a hill quite near the city, so it is easily accessible. The trail can be taken in either direction. The northern end of the trail is marked by the Harakiri Yagura Cave. In this cave, the remains of Hojo Takatoki (last ruler of the Kamakura Shogunate) and his samurais were buried after they had committed ritual mass suicide upon losing Kamakura in 1333. Towards the southern end of the trail is Yagumo Shrine. Along the trail is the Myohon-ji temple, which is also worth a visit. On clear days you can be lucky to see mount Fuji in the distance.
From Tokyo: take the Yokosuka Line (JO) from Tokyo Station, Shimbashi Station or Shinagawa Station. Get off at Kamakura Station. The ride is just under 1 hour, and is covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Cover photo credit: Guilhem Vellut, Licensed under CC. Changes were made to original the photo.