Stay and activity in Kamakura: Human tourism
Kamakura offers multiple activities, some of which are unique, and it is easy to try several types of experiences in a limited time due to its small surface.
Here are some recommendations, where you meet, discover and learn from passionate specialists.
Enjoy the tea differently
“Draft Tea*”, “Tea Buffet”, “Tea Dripper”…, Ken Miura, manager of the Chabakka tea salon and shop, near Kamakura station, has had no shortage of innovative ideas for 4 years, to combine sharing and pleasure with the experience of (re)discovering tea, especially for people not a priori interested in Japanese green tea. A new approach in the service of its concept "to appreciate the nihoncha".
Latest novelties on the menu: hojicha tea cannelés in collaboration with the local French pastry shop, matcha and ochazuke** ice cream, bowl of rice with tea...
*“Draft Tea”: the tea is served like beer, by tap, to appreciate its refreshing taste, with foam!
**Ochazuke with salted plum (ume), yuzu, wasabi and dried salmon.
Back to the days of the bushi
Wearing a samurai costume from the Kamakura period, shooting an arrow in armor and on horseback, fighting with a katana sword, making a helmet, discovering battlefield meals..., so many activities organized by Satoshi Kamakura, born and raised in Kamakura and descended from a late Heian period (12th century) samurai.
Satoshi Kamakura began his cultural activities as a tribute to the memorial of the Kamakura period, because during this period many battles took place and human bones are still unearthed today during the construction of buildings. Another of his missions is to continue to tell stories and pass on folk arts and bushi culture, especially to younger generation. http://izakamakura.jp (In Japanese)
Owner of the new cafe LIKE (Life in Kamakura English), which opened in last September, Greg Obaugh moved in 2018 from Washington DC to Kamakura with his wife Miho and their two dogs. Since then, they have continued to discover the many facets of the city.
The café is located in the Zaimokuza district between the city center and the beach, site of the first ports where zaimoku (timbers) transited in the 9th century. A friendly place to take a break and chat with Greg, Miho and their customers, often accompanied by their dogs, because our faithful furry friends are always welcome here! www.lifeinkamakura.com/
Myohonji and Komyoji Temples: Myohonji in the mountains and Komyoji on the beach. Both are old, tranquil temples visited mostly by locals. The architecture is magnificent. They are perfect places to meditate, listen to the birds or enjoy the majestic cedar trees.
Jufukuji and Tokeiji cemeteries: If you like moss and history, these are great places to visit. Here are the tombs of some of early-Kamakura’s famous royalty as well as contemporary Buddhist scholars.
Zaimokuza Beach at sunset. The slow life of the Shonan Coast doesn’t get much better than listening to the ocean waves while watching the sky turn colors over Mt Fuji.
Exploring neighborhood paths: ねこみち or Neko Michi. I love the word. The translation is cat path. My mother-in-law taught me this word and it perfectly describes the endless maze of narrow paths that slice and dice the neighborhoods of Kamakura. Most likely, you will find them everywhere in Japan, but ours have some unique surprises.
Daibutsu Hiking Trail is a fun way to bypass the crowds and get you from Kita Kamakura to Hase.
Nisshindo Bakery in Ōmachi: This is the oldest bakery in town. It’s a family business, unpretentious, cheap, delicious and open every day of the week.
Sekihi, historical markers:
We first met Francesco “Frank” Baldessari at a talk he was giving on his book, entitled: Kamakura, A Historical Guide, published in 2016. One of the questions we asked him was about the black stone historical markers (Sekihi) we saw all around Kamakura. A Japanese compilation exists at Kamakura Citizen Net (KCN) site www.kcn-net.org/sisekihi/menu.htm but no one had ever translated them into English. Our project together was born.
There are 83 Sekihi scattered throughout the greater Kamakura area, but we have concentrated on the 70 that exist within Kamakura
City. Clicking on the English name will take you to the blog and the full translation.
Mind without barriers
The nickname of Mr. Takano, owner of the Irodori guest house, is Bushi (samurai), because he wears the kacchu armor every day and everywhere. He made it out of
paper, resin and rayon and joined the different parts together with woven cords.
His concept is “barrier-free”. Dressed as a samurai, he wants to be more accessible for visitors. On the ground floor of this 90-year-old house is renovated and easily accessible for wheelchairs. He guides foreign tourists in English, accompanies persons visually impaired, prepares meals, organizes evening meetings between singles and voluntary activities for the elderly... His wish is to make his guest house a community place that respects the difference of each person. https://i-link-u.com/
Khaju cultural space, flowers and trees
Dyer and weaver, Makiko Tanaka harvests wild plants from small mountains in the city of Kamakura. In 1997, she renovated an 80-year-old traditional house to turn it into a small cultural space equipped with weaving machines, which she shares with artists and professionals for the transmission of knowledge.
For more than 25 years, she has also written in her blog about wild plants, their biology, their history, but also their edibility, how to use them in dye, etc.
Thanks to the support of her friends and crowdfunding, she published a book presenting 124 of the 400 species in her collection.
She regularly organizes dyeing and weaving classes and one-day courses during the summer on indigo aizome. www.khaju.com/
Accommodations in Kamakura
Finn came to Japan out of an interest in the different accommodation styles it has to offer. So far he has managed two small guesthouses in Kamakura, and now he is one of the front staff in a larger hostel in the same city called WeBase. WeBase Kamakura started off as a hostel with a focus on events and its rental studio and it is right now undergoing renovation to become a proper resort hotel.
Shimizu-yu (photo) is a 60-year-old building with a public bath that evokes the feeling of the Showa era. The interior has an open feeling to it that is enabled by the beautiful Kutani-ware porcelain paintings. Public baths have become one of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day, and Shimizu-yu is among my favorites in the area.https://kamakurasentou.wixsite.com/kamakura-sentou/contact (video)
Les cours de calligraphie de maître Katsuhiro Miike sont particulièrement appréciés des visiteurs de Kamakura, car on peut participer à un « Taiken Kyoshitsu », un atelier d’initiation qui ne nécessite pas d’apporter ses propres matériaux. Le tarif est de 3 000 yens et la réservation est recommandée pour être certain d’avoir une place. https://katsuhiromiike.jimdofree.com/
Ankokuronji is perhaps one of the most central among the Nichiren Buddhism temples and is said to be where its founder, Nichiren, wrote one of his most famous works. The surrounding area is spotted with interesting hiking trails, caverns, and a beautiful garden. Having lived in the vicinity I would often go there to find peace. www.ankokuronji.org/
WanderKitchen for me is a melting pot of various people, cultures and traditions, art, and most importantly cuisine. The food is comforting as is the homey interior of the place that spurs long stays. Pets are welcome which adds to the relaxed atmosphere. www.instagram.com/wanderkitchen/
Cafe Kaeru is simply named so for the owner likes frogs. If you look close enough you may catch a glimpse of them in the lush garden that abounds in flowers and trees. I had a lush curry udon under the garden pergola with my friends and fell in love with the food rich in local vegetables. A perfect place to relax. www.cafekaeru.com/