Kamakura is exceptionally beautiful place to travel to, especially in autumn though. It is packed with breathtaking scenic beauty, impressive history, and Buddhist temples, with the autumn foliage making it all the more spectacular. During fall, whether you are in this town for fall foliage or just to visit it for other purpose brilliant fall hues are guaranteed. A journey to Kamakura in fall would be memorable. You surly would be enthralled by the adventure. Over the course of three days (my previous trip), I have explored a range of sights in Kamakura that are worth a visit in autumn as the colors of the trees transform from green to vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow.
Kamakura is one of the most famous historic cities of Japan. The city is surrounded by mountains on the three sides (north, east, and west), and it faces the Pacific Ocean on the south. It is home to many beautiful Buddhist temples & Shinto shrines. It is a quite renowned place for a day trip from Tokyo. In fact, you could feel it once you get in the train to Kamakura. To experience the essence of the city you have to discover it on your own. But no worries as I am here to help you and take you somewhere within it sharing with you most up-to-date travel info. Come with me and let’s explore the city’s fall colors beauty.
When is the Best time to view Fall Foliage in Kamakura?
Based on the 2016 Japan autumn foliage forecast, estimated fall foliage viewing time in Kamakura is from late-November to mid-December. Though, it is hard to tell you the exact peak time. However, my previous trips to Kamakura in autumn decide me to tell you that the peak season begins in early December. Even if you plan on visiting Kamakura on the second week of December, it is still FINE! It is the time of which all the colored leaves would not touch the ground yet.
Usually, Kamakura has a mild climate. It is sunny in autumn though it could be cloudy sometimes and windy as it is a coastal city. The seasonal change here is extremely striking. Unlike its nearby top autumn leaves spots such as Nikko and Hakone, the deciduous trees here change their leaves in a bit later. Therefore, from late-November to mid-December, Kamakura is alive with vibrant color as the leaves change.
Where to view Autumn Leaves in Kamakura?
I dare to describe all the fall foliage spots here. Instead I have decided to introduce only the best ones you could enjoy the most with only a single trip. The beautiful city of Kamakura awaits you with its most prestigious fall foliage spots mostly produced by the classic historic temples for hunting momijigari.
1) Kotokuin Temple
The Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kamakura Daibutsu) is located at Kotokuin temple. The bronze statue of Amida Buddha is the one of the most important iconic symbols of Japan along with Mt. Fuji, Sakura, Red-crowned Crane and many more. The statue is large, with a height of 13.35 meters. Kamakura Daibutsu is a designated National Treasure by the Japanese government. The surrounding maple and ginkgo trees are at their peak in early to mid December.
Here, red maple leaves and gold ginkgo leaves cover the surrounding nature and making it an ideal place for exploring colored leaves and impressive photo taking. The Buddha statue looks stunningly beautiful as the nearby color-changing trees shine their utmost fall beauty. It is a sacred place, therefore pay your respect to it at the time you visit it. You can take a leisurely stroll within the temple’s grounds. Don’t just stay on the temple’s grounds for a while; try spending some times more as you’re likely to be busy with photographing.
2) Hasedera Temple
Kamakura Hasedera is a Buddhist temple and one of the beautiful holy places in the Kanto region. There are so many things you could experience including viewing red maple leaf in autumn and hydrangea in early summer during the rainy season. The temple is famous for its eleven-headed wooden Kannon, also known as goddess of mercy. You can’t see it outside like the Kamakura Daibutsu rather you have got to go inside the main temple hall, the Kannon-do Hall.
When I visit Hasedera, I don’t just explore the temple grounds beyond the architectural highlights. Everything that is seen on its grounds is precious and priceless to me. Seasonal beauty here is another highlight that I admire along with the temple architectures, garden, ponds filled with koi fish, different sizes of Buddha statues and etc. You should walk around the temple grounds and feel the autumn beauty. It is great walking along the pathway up to the main hall (Kannon-do-Hall) as it gets decorated with tons of red maple leaves. If you don’t leave the temple before nightfall then you can experience a lovely view of illuminating fall foliage. It takes only 4-5 minutes to reach there from Hase station. If you are coming from Kotokuin temple then walk for a few minutes and you will see the road signs leading to Hasedera.
3) Hokokuji Temple
One of the Japan’s best Zen Buddhist temples, the Hokokuji temple (bamboo temple), is a small temple of the Rinzai Sect of Zen Buddhism located in Kamakura. You may find this place very unique in comparison with the first two places described above. Along with viewing incredible fall foliage here, you can walk through the bamboo garden. It is fun walking down the path because it is totally different than the atmosphere you usually experience at Hasedera and Kotokuin temples. The bamboo grove is located behind the temple’s main hall. It is a small bamboo grove which you can walk through within minutes.
The temple’s grounds are rich in various plants and trees. Not all the trees there change their color in fall but most of them do. You can feel the autumn atmosphere once you step into it. There is a beautiful small zen garden that looks breathtaking with the colored trees seen nearby it. This temple may be small but it’s big in natural beauty. Pay 200 Yen as part of admission fee and then explore it from A to Z.
4) Engakuji Temple
You can escape the crowds to explore vibrant fall colors at Engakuji temple. A visit to this historic Zen Buddhist temple is almost like stepping back in time. It is the number two of Kamakura’s five great Zen temples that was founded in 1282 by the Kamakura regent Hojo Tokimune (1215-1284). The temple entrance is surrounded by many maple trees and it is very relaxing walking through the path leading to the Sanmon gate. This is an iconic symbol of this temple which was built in 1785. Passing under the gate would be enjoying.
There are other spots to view fall foliage within the temple’s grounds. In addition, the temple has Butsuden (main hall), the Shariden (the hall in wish a tooth of Buddha is enshrined, also a National Treasure), large bronze temple bell (national treasure), Sodo and many more. The bell is said to be the largest bell in Kakamura city with a height of 2.6 meters and 1.42 meters in diameter. I think you must visit this extraordinary beautiful historic temple that becomes even more stunning during fall season. Get off the train at Kita-Kamakura station if you are coming from Tokyo. Engakuji is a few steps from the station.
5) Meigetsuin Temple
The hidden beauty of autumn appears here only once in a year that you can experience through a circular window in the main hall of this temple. It is breathtaking staring through this window when the scenery of the inner garden behind it shines with vibrant colors. Meigetsuin temple is also called as Ajisaidera (Hydrangea temple). During the rainy season a lot of hydrangeas bloom. It is one of the best places to see Hydrangea not only in Kamakura but in the country as well. The temple is located not far from Kita-Kamakura station. It is just a-10 minute walk from the station. Enjoy the fall foliage there in early to mid-December.
6) Kenchoji Temple
Kenchoji is the oldest and the number one of Kamakura’s five great Zen temples, built in 1253 by the regent Hojo Tokiyori. If it is your vary first time visit to Kamakura then Kenchoji is a must place to pay a visit to. It deserves it! There you find another impressive Sanmon gate (large main gate) leading you to Kenchoji’s temple bell (Bonsho – a designated national treasure). Then you start exploring the Butsuden (Buddha Hall) and the Hatto (Dharma Hall). Right behind the Hojo (the main hall), there you see is a lovely Zen garden. It looks stunning as the color-changing trees alive with the red, gold and orange colors.
Let’s go for a Hike!
Hiking is in my blood! I like to hike in two different hiking trails that I find in Kamakura, they are: Tenen Hiking Trail, and Daibutsu Hiking Trail. I love these trails and they offer me to enjoy a lovely autumn day in Kamakura along with visiting the designated top fall foliage spots. If you are interested in hiking then why not to try these! The memories you will have during the hiking courses are unforgettable, guaranteed!
Tenen hiking trail is the longest trail between these two trails as it takes you to Shishimai Valley then leads you to Zuisenji temple. This is where the trail ends if you set off your hiking course from the Kenchoji temple. The trail is located right behind the hills of Kenchoji temple main grounds.
There is a small observation deck, built for hikers to view snow-capped Mount Fuji. If you climb even further then you will reach to the second observation deck. It offers you a brilliant view of the whole temple grounds surrounded by forested valley and the city of Kamakura. In fact, the trail starts here and it takes more than an hour to complete the course.
When it comes to talking about the Daibutsu hiking trail pass, the first thing you have to think of its entrance. The perfect gateway to it is the Jochiji temple. You certainly find fall colors at this temple’s grounds. The trail is nice and makes you to walk to Kamakura’s Great Buddha in about an hour. You enjoy the autumn leaves while walking along the trail. It is truly magnificent!
A Beautiful Shrine to Visit
The shrine is called Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, a beautiful shrine like this can’t be ignored by you once you are in the city. This is not a perfect place to see fall colors though, it could disappoint you when you compare this site with rest of the sites I have described so far. Do you know why you should visit it? Firstly, it is the most important shrine in Kamakura. Secondly there are multiple torii gates from big to small ones. And thirdly, the architectures you see there are incredible. The shrine grounds could overwhelm you with its picturesque landmarks. During the New Year holidays, it gets fully crowded with visitors for Hatsumode. It is the custom of the first Shinto shrine visit in the early morning on the New Year.
How to get to Kamakura?
Kamakura is one of the few recommended day trips from Tokyo. Many people come here especially on weekends and they mostly visit the temples. You need only an hour train ride from Tokyo to Kamakura. If you get in the train early morning in Tokyo then you could spend a whole day here visiting the fall foliage spots located around the city. Kamakura can be accessed by numbers of trains from Tokyo’s Shinjuku station. It is recommended to buy Enoshima Kamakura Free Pass (Rail Pas) by Odakyu Railway if you are looking for the cheapest way of transportation from Tokyo. With this pass unlimited usage of Enoden train is possible. The cost of this pass is 1470 Yen.
The sites I have described above can be accessed by city buses, taxi and rental bicycles. Alternatively, you can get there on foot. And discovering every corner of this city on foot is adventurous! In fact, when you hike, you have walk for not that much long though. The city could be small but fall foliage is everywhere. Therefore, walking down the street and enjoying the autumn colors is also recommended here.
Where to Stay in Kamakura?
If you are looking for a perfect accommodation in Kamakura then I could recommend some hotels for you to stay overnight. In fact, those who come here from Tokyo or Yokohama or even from Hakone, they don’t need to stay in Kamakura unless they plan on traveling extra day right here. However, most of the hotels around Kamakura offer cheap hotel deals for their guests. Below are the best hotels in Kamakura in which you could check in.
Welcome to Kamakura and Enjoy the Fall Colors
In Japan, there are many cities where people can visit, depending on what they like. If you like exploring autumn beauty and historic Japanese temples then there is nothing except visiting Kamakura in fall. Probably the atmosphere here is different than Hokkaido’s wild nature. In fact there are new discoveries each day! I am an expert travel writer for both Hokkaido and Tohoku regions but I often plan on traveling other regions of Japan. That’s for why when nature changes its color in autumn I feel myself pretty happy and make several trips throughout Japan based on my budget. Please note that in Kamakura color reach their peak is between early and mid December. Thank you!
Copyright 2016 @ takkhis