We decided to visit Kamakura as a day trip from Tokyo- our friend Denis talked us into it, as our JR Pass which we used to travel by train to Kanazawa, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara was still worth for a day, and as he had put it: "It would have been a shame not to use it". Our friend Daria joined us for that trip, as she was there before but haven't seen the Great Buddha statue.
Kamakura is a little town in Kanagawa prefecture south-west of Tokyo, about an hour train drive from the center of the city. Although it is just 50 kilometers away from Tokyo, when we hopped off the train we felt that laid back surfer vibe which towns by the sea tend to have. We were drawn by the sea, so as soon as we caught a glimpse of the beach we headed in that direction. It is a long sandy beach at that moment occupied only by few fishermen and their colorful boats and nets, surfers (and a bit more surfers out in the sea), and a couple of walkers. While Daria and I were writing in the sand, posing for photographs and wandering around, Luka managed to capture the atmosphere of that peaceful place perfectly.
After the beach, we headed in the direction of Kotoku-in temple, to see the famous bronze statue of Great Buddha. This monumental statue was probably built in 13th century, originally kept in a hall of the temple which was destroyed by storms a couple of times, and as of 15th century, the Great Buddha stands in the open air. It is the second tallest Buddha Statue in Japan, about 13 meters tall. When you enter the temple, the scene that opens up in front of you is truly remarkable: the imposing Buddha statue overshadowing buzzing tourists and worshipers, surrounded by cherry blossoms and tall trees in the background. And eventhough there was a lot of people moving around, the place was exuding peace and tranquility. Among the tourists, there was a group of Buddhist monks, also visiting the temple and taking pictures of the statue with their cameras and smartphones- it was a charming scene.
After the temple, we headed to the center, to stroll down the main shopping street in Kamakura called Komachi-dori. The street is not only appealing but also full of beautiful shops with quality items made in Japan. We bought some tasty and beautifully packed sweets for our grandparents, and discovered the most amazing towel shop- it's called Imabari towels, after a city in Ehime prefecture on Shikoku, the smallest of four main Japanese islands. The towels of high quality are being produced in that city since the end of the 19th century, and I can completely understand its popularity today. Besides beautiful prints and earthy colours, those are the fluffiest and softest towels I've ever layed my hands on. We bought a couple of towels and shawls as presents for our family, and I am only sorry that we didn't buy any towels for ourselves- but we had to leave something for our next visit to Japan. :)
I read later that there is some seriously good icecream in that street, pea shop (!), and curry shop popular among Japanese. We're leaving that for the next time aswell. The night fell down, we bought some fishcakes on the street and headed back to Tokyo. It was a lovely day, and Kamakura, with its laid back atmoshpere, beautiful temple and amazing shops makes a perfect and relaxing day trip from Tokyo.