Another pleasant hike from Kita Kamakura Station 北鎌倉駅 to Kamakura-gu Shrine 鎌倉宮. There are a few temples of interest along the way, and great views of Kamakura town 鎌倉. On a clear day you can even see Mount Fuji 富士山. Unfortunately not well signed, and has many stairs and steep rocky areas. Probably not for the kids, but easy for most people of average fitness.
If you are interested in this hike, you might also be interested in the Kamakura Daibutsu Hiking Course.
Distance: 7 km
Duration: 2 – 2.5 hours
Difficulty: easy – medium
Season: Suitable all year (but a bit dangerous when wet – slippery rocks)
Starting point: Kita Kamakura Station 北鎌倉駅
Finishing point: Kamakura-gu Shrine 鎌倉宮
A map of the hike can also be viewed at GPSies
There are a number of nice walks in the hills surrounding Kamakura 鎌倉. The Mapple website has a map of the area that includes the trails – http://map.mapple.net/_mdspot_sc40000_sidG01401136102_lon139.5506925_lat35.3307686111111/index.htm, but is only in Japanese. The trail head for the Kamakura Daibutsu hiking course is marked by the flag, and all walking trails are marked with a blue dashed line.
From Kita Kamakura Station 北鎌倉駅, take the Enrakuji Temple 円覚寺 exit and turn right. Only a few meters down the road is Engakuji Temple 円覚寺, the second in Kamakura’s top five Zen temples （admission is 300 yen）. It’s quite an extensive temple, and is also known for its changing leaves in Autumn. Continue along the road for about 10 minutes and you will see a sign for Meigetsu-in Temple 明月院 (admission is 300 yen). Take the road to the left, and the temple isn’t far along, it’s just where the road bends. I can highly recommend this temple, it has a small but lovely garden famous for hydrangeas (June/July), and the main hall has a round window with beautiful views of the garden.
Returning to the main road next to the rail lines, keep headed away from the train station, following the signs to Kenchoji Temple 建長寺 (admission is 300 yen). Kenchoji 建長寺 is on the left hand side, and to access the trail head you have to enter the temple. There is another trail head close to Meigetsu-in 明月院 in the residential area behind it, but personally I couldn’t find it. Within Kenchoji 建長寺 head past the main hall on the left hand side, and you will reach stairs. Follow these stairs to the top where you will find a temple. On the right hand side of the temple you can walk a little further up to an observation platform where you can see Kamakura town 鎌倉 and Mount Fuji 富士山 on a clear day.From here the real hike begins. For the first half of the hike follow the signs to Ten-en 天園 or Zuisenji Temple 瑞泉寺. You will pass a few small bamboo groves and many Yagura, which are cave tombs from the Kamakura era. Now, this trail has many unmarked trails leading from it, so it can be a little difficult to navigate. My advice is to keep going in the same direction, keeping Kamakura town 鎌倉 on the right, and stay to the most used path. This should get you to Zuisenji 瑞泉寺.
Once you reach Mt Ohirayama 大平山, the highest point along the trail, you will see a country club and golf course on the left. Keep going ahead, and shortly after you will reach the Ten-en Tea House 天園茶屋, where you can buy some lunch or snacks. To continue on, head past the tea house, and down hill a little, past another house. Turn to the right and walk through a large bamboo grove before turning left to head to Zuisenji 瑞泉寺. From now, follow any signs pointing towards Zuisenji 瑞泉寺.
There are a number of alternative paths again from this point, but if you follow the advice of staying to the most travelled paths you should get to Zuisenji 瑞泉寺. If worse comes to worse, you are only in a small wooded area, and suburbia isn’t far away if you take a wrong turn.
The end of the trail is a small staircase with a map at the bottom, and then the street. Take a right, and then another right to get to Zuisenji 瑞泉寺 (admission is 300 yen). Zuisenji 瑞泉寺 is famous for its caves that overlook a pond (see my header picture). It also has lovely narcissus (January), plum (Febuary), and hydrangeas (June/July).When leaving Zuisenji 瑞泉寺 keep following the road ahead. It will eventually turn right, and on this corner is Kamakura-gu Shrine 鎌倉宮 (admission to the grounds free, Treasure house 300 yen). A little bit further around the corner from the main gate is the bus stop for the bus back to Kamakura Station 鎌倉駅 (Bus #20).
To and From
From Tokyo 東京, catch the JR Yokosuka line 横須賀線 to Kita Kamakura 北鎌倉駅. It takes 50 minutes and costs 780yen. Or from Shinjuku 新宿 you can catch the JR Shonan Shinjuku line 湘南新宿線 to Kita Kamakura 北鎌倉駅. It takes 52 minutes and costs 890yen. Trains run regularly on these lines. Sometimes a train won’t take you the whole distance and you might need to change to go further on.
From Kamakura-gu Shrine 鎌倉宮 #20 buses leave regularly Kamakura Station 鎌倉駅 for 190yen. Or you can walk back to the station in about 45 minutes.
Kamakura Today http://www.kamakuratoday.com/e/index.html an English site with information on the sites in Kamakura
Mapple Map of Kamakura in Japanese http://map.mapple.net/_mdspot_sc40000_sidG01401136102_lon139.5506925_lat35.3307686111111/index.htm
Map of hike on GPSies http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=krlwluqtzmqdquny
My photo set on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/michelelisa/sets/72157623260903464/
Ten-en Hiking Course 天園ハイキングコース
Kita Kamakura Station 北鎌倉駅
Kamakura-gu Shrine 鎌倉宮
Mount Fuji 富士山
Enrakuji Temple 円覚寺
Meigetsu-in Temple 明月院
Kenchoji Temple 建長寺
Zuisenji Temple 瑞泉寺
Mt Ohirayama 大平山
Ten-en Tea House 天園茶屋
Kamakura Station 鎌倉駅
Yokosuka line 横須賀線
Shonan Shinjuku line 湘南新宿線