Hike – Kamakura Ten-en Hiking Course 天園ハイキングコース

25 01 2010

Meigetsu-in Main Hall

Quick Overview

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 

Maps

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.

The Hike

Meigetsu-in Entrance

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.

Entrance to Kenchoji

Entrance to Kenchoji

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.

Ten-en Tea House

Ten-en Tea House

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.

Entrance to Zuisenji

Entrance to Zuisenji

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

As always, the following routes are just recommendations.  Please use Hyperdia or Jorudan’s Train Route Finder to find the most suitable route for you!

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.

Links

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/

Useful Kanji

Kamakura 鎌倉
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
Ten-en 天園
Zuisenji Temple 瑞泉寺
Mt Ohirayama 大平山
Ten-en Tea House 天園茶屋
Kamakura Station 鎌倉駅
Tokyo 東京
Yokosuka line 横須賀線
Shinjuku 新宿
Shonan Shinjuku line 湘南新宿線





Hike – Kamakura Daibutsu Hiking Course 大仏ハイキングコース

28 10 2009

Quick Overview

Kamakura Great Buddha

A short hike that takes you from Kita Kamakura Station 北鎌倉駅 to the Great Buddha 大仏.  There’s lots of interesting shrines to see on the way, and a large park where you can have a picnic lunch.  A nice alternative to the crowded tourist areas in Kamakura 鎌倉.  Suitable for families, but not many shops if you need to buy food.

If you are interested in this hike, you might also be interested in the Kamakura Ten-en Hiking Course.

Distance: 5.8km
Duration: 60-90 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Season:  Suitable all year
Starting point:  Kita Kamakura Station 北鎌倉駅
Finishing point:  Kotoku-In (Great Buddha) 高徳院(大仏)

Maps

This 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 trails – http://map.mapple.net/_mdspot_sc40000_sidG01401136102_lon139.5506925_lat35.3307686111111/index.htm, but is only in Japanese.  The trail head for the Daibutsu course is marked by the flag, and trails are marked with a blue dashed line.

The Hike

From Kita Kamakura Station 北鎌倉駅, take the south west exit and head out to the main road.  Before leaving the station area, it’s possible to access Engakuji Temple 円覚寺, the second in Kamakura’s top five Zen temples, from the east side.  Continuing on the west side of the tracks, take a left and follow the road for about 5 minutes.  On the right you will pass Shokozan-Tokeiji Temple 松岡山 東慶寺.  This used to be a nunnery that was also a sanctuary for women seeking a divorce. Grounds include a garden and Treasure house, and entrance is 100yen (not including the Treasure house, which is a further 300yen).  Another 5 minutes along the road, and you will see Jochiji Temple 浄智寺 on the right.  This is the start of the trail.

Entrance to Jochiji

God of Luck

Jochiji Temple 浄智寺 is another of the five main Zen temples of Kamakura. Grounds include a garden, well, bell tower, and statue of the god of luck.  Entrance is 200yen.  To continue hiking, follow the road alongside the temple on the left.  At the end of the road the trail heads up into the hills.  Follow this path to Kuzuharagaoka Shrine 葛原ヶ岡 and Genjiyama park 源氏山公園.  Kuzuharagaoka 葛原ヶ岡 is a shrine built on an execution ground from the Kamakura Period.  From here the park is along the path to the right.  This is a good place to stop and rest.

In approximately the middle of the park is a road to the right leading down to Zeniarai Benten Shrine 銭荒弁天.  Here you can wash your money to make it double, or buy a talisman that a priest will bless by striking a flint over it.  The shrine is on the right of the road through a stone tunnel.  Once you are finished here, continue down the road to the residential area.  Follow the road until you reach a Y intersection leading to the right with signs pointing to Sasuke Inari Shrine 佐助稲荷.  Walk along this road to the end and up the stairs to the shrine.  Keep climbing the stairs that lead up behind the shrine until you reach the top (don’t worry, it’s not far!)  At the top you can rejoin the Daibutsu Hiking Course 大仏ハイキングコース by turning left.

The rest of this trail only takes about 20 minutes to finish, and you will come down hill and exit on Route 32 next to a tunnel.  Just turn left and follow the road to the next corner, then turn left again.  On the left is Kotoku-In 高徳院 and the Great Buddha 大仏.  Entrance is 200yen, and an extra 20yen if you want to enter the Buddha.  The Kamakura Daibutsu 大仏 is the largest outdoor Buddha in Japan and certainly worth a look.

To and From

As always, the following routes are just recommendations.  Please use Hyperdia or Jorudan’s Train Route Finder to find the most suitable route for you!

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 Kotoku-In 高徳院 buses leave regularly from the entrance to Kamakura Station 鎌倉駅 for 190yen approximately.  Or you can walk the 1.4km back to the station.

Links

Kamakura Today  http://www.kamakuratoday.com/e/index.html an English site with information on the sites in Kamakura

Tokeiji Temple http://www.tokeiji.com/pc/en/

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

Useful Kanji

Kamakura 鎌倉
Daibutsu (Great Buddha) 大仏
Hiking Course ハイキングコース
Kita Kamakura Station 北鎌倉駅
Kotoku-In  高徳院
Engakuji 円覚寺
Shokozan-Tokeiji 松岡山 東慶寺
Jochiji 浄智寺
Kuzuharagaoka 葛原ヶ岡
Genjiyama Park 源氏山公園
Zeniarai Benten 銭荒弁天
Sasuke Inari 佐助稲荷
Tokyo 東京
Yokosuka line 横須賀線
Shinjuku 新宿
Shonan Shinjuku line 湘南新宿線





The Life Conspiracy

9 10 2009

wow I fail at updating my blog!  As I mentioned before, I am working on a write up about Mt Tsukuba, but I could at least blog about whats going on too right??

Anyway.  Almost directly after my last post, my school had a group of students from New Zealand come on exchange for 12 days.  We had a lot of trouble finding host families, so I had one of their teachers stay with me (in my double shoe box), which was really good because I could also participate with them in their activities.

Each year the Kiwi trip always happens at the same time so that they can see the school’s cultural festival.  However this year things were a bit different.  The festival had been changed from 2 days to 1 day due to swine flu being everywhere in Japan at the moment.  Then, late on Thursday afternoon (Friday is a preparation day) it was announced it was totally cancelled because 4 classes in the whole school had been sent home with the flu.

Which meant that instead of 3 days of culture festival, 2 days at Nikko, and 2 days with their host families, we had a whole week off, only broken by those 2 days at Nikko.

It actually turned out to be really really fun.  On the Friday we had some problems with one of the Kiwi students (she was homesick), so we weren’t able to do much.  Beth (the teacher I was hosting) and I went for a walk at Soka, which has some historical significance in being a trade area.  And then that evening there was a big drinking party followed by karaoke.

Soka River Walk

Soka River Walk

The next day, all the adults from NZ, myself and another teacher went to Mt Mitake to do an easy hike.  Mt Mitake is a lot of fun.  We caught a cable car to the top, visited the shine, and then walked over a ridge to Mt Hinode.  Mt Hinode is great, because on a clear day you can see Tokyo in the distance.  And we could even see a little of Mt Fuji.  However, it’s not easy hiking while hungover…

On top of Mt Hinode

Mt Mitake Shrine

Sunday, the whole group of us went to Tobu Zoo, which is very close by my house.  It actually isn’t just a zoo, it also includes a small theme park, with a brilliant rollercoaster.  Suffice to say, the kids had a great time!

Monday and Tuesday was a pre-arranged trip to Nikko.  We went to Edo Wonderland, which is a village of Edo-era buildings and attractions.  I had been there before, and its okay, but it’s also something I think you could skip on a trip to Japan.  We also went to Tobu World Square, which I had wanted to go to for a long time.  It’s a park full of miniatures, with the theme ‘Travel the world in just one hour!’.  I loved it and highly recommend it!  After that we also went to Toshogu (I think it was my 5th or 6th time), which was pretty unremarkable (see my previous post).

Tower Bridge from Tobu World Square

Wednesday was mostly spent shopping, afterall, what’s a vacation without shopping? And Thursday was once again hiking!  This time we went to Kamakura, home of the biggest outside Buddha in Japan.  Our Kamakura hike was pretty easy, and included a lot of shrines and temples.  The most interesting ones were Zeniarai Benten, where you wash your money and it multiplies (and it really did work for me!), and another temple, of which it’s name escapes me, with a lovely garden.

Garden in Kamakura

Garden in Kamakura

After that it was back to school until the New Zealanders left.  But being back at school has also had its challenges.  We pretty much had to jump straight into preparing our classes for their exams, which are happening this week and next.  AND yesterday a major typhoon passed over Honshu, so school was cancelled for the day.  It was nice to sleep in, however, it did throw a bit of a spanner into the works.

And now it’s mostly back to normal.

Until something else comes up…