Kamakura day trip and attractions

Kamakura 鎌倉 was new to me. I was actually Googling for day trip out of Tokyo. You have the usual (and always popular) Hakone, Mount Fuji, Tateyama, Shirakawa-go, Jigokudani and Yokohama etc.

Those with families could definitely head to Odaiba for Disney magic!

*Do take note day trips one-way distance of 300km is very common for Japan

I was contemplating hiking in Winter too but on second thoughts, I was scared of being stuck in snow. Then I drifted to onsen “magical” towns near to Tokyo.

Finally, I was sold when I saw Kamakura day trip itineraries. The trains caught my attention. the old nostalgic Enoden, electric trams which runs along the coast line. The special Shonan ride, which is inverted, zipping across the town would be a sight!

Upon more research, Enoshima island, Big Buddha and many more Shintos and Temples await visitors. Wave surfing is super popular too, even in crazy bitter winter!

There were enough attractions to extend my day trip to an overnight stay. We can be so spontaneous when we are traveling alone 🙂

Kamakura is only 80 min South from Tokyo station to Kamakura station, and the metro is faster than driving 🙂

If you are doing day trip, chuck the luggage aside. Locker is only Yen 600.
Kamakura station is where we transit to the Enoden line, and Enoshima station is 20 minutes away.

 

Day trippers should grab the unlimited day rides ticket (for both types of trains Enoden and Shonan) . Go to the vending machine outside the station and press the Yen 700 ticket.  (As an estimate, one way end to end on the Enoden is already Yen 310). More details here.

If you are going to Enoshima, ticket will also gain entry to escalator (otherwise climb 30 minutes).

The station operators were not too helpful in identifying the ticket machines offering the Yen 700 tickets, and I had to trial and error.
(If you are buying the ticket, show them photo below)

I pop into Katsuretsu-an 勝烈庵 by luck. I was just trying to have lunch and it turns out to be good 🙂

Love at Yen 1800 (GPS 35.319444, 139.549167), love the cutlet, prawn and pork. Soup with clam shell was the surprise, sweet and delightful.

For train lovers, this is the Enoden train. Green electric trams, with wooden floor and they have been running since early 1900!

Running in the city along side cars, all along the coast, so Instagramable and picturesque.

View behind the cockpit, driver panel.

 

Enoden and Shonan video:


The colourful interior are from creative kids, very nice.

I spotted different train cabins too, all with the overhead lines. So nostalgic. Maybe I love trains more than the average folks, pardon the ravings :p

Deng1 deng1 deng1, listen to the chimes indicating barrier is shutting for incoming trains. Trains are never late!

The night trail lights from the trains presented another mesmerising sight. And I was not the only tourist chasing the trains haha.

 

The other special trains (or monorail) in Kamakura are the Shonan. The inverted cabins, navigating upside down in between the pillars, feels a bit like roller coaster 🙂

The shonan monorail looks futuristic, but they have been running since the 1970s.

Japanese affectionately call Shonan rides Sky Trip, well we are literally dangling in the sky. Some cool clips from Shonan website (Video link).

If you are not train fanatics, there are still plenty of attractions for your Kamakura day trip.

1) Hokokuji, better known as Bamboo temple (GPS 35.320027, 139.569238). 2km East of Kamakura station.

If you are adventurous, many of the beautiful sights are within comfortable walking distance, but expect walks up to 2 to 3km.

Kamakura map

 

2) I visited the Big Buddha (Kōtoku-in) instead. Nearest station is Hase Enoden station (GPS 35.316811, 139.536262).

Praying for Peace and Happiness at the Majestic Buddha. Nominal entrance fee applies,  this sight flourish with Sakura blooms in Spring!

Kamakura day trip
Kamakura day trip

3) Slam dunk manga fan anyone? Junction  (GPS 35.306669, 139.502077) is always packed with tourists, hard to avoid photo bombs. (Station kamakura kokoMae)

This station is also famous for the fabulous sunsets and view of Mount Fuji during winter period.

4) More temples, one of the most popular ones is Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū (GPS 35.326124, 139.556402). You can have a panoramic view of Kamakura from the top of the steps. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and it began to rain too. The garden compound is pretty scenic too.

For your info, many Shintos and Temples are popular and a Kamakura day trip might not capture all the sights and history.

If you have time, head to one of the oldest temples in Kamakura “大蔵山 杉本寺 Sugimotodera” (GPS 35.322718, 139.567417), photos of the moss steps are amazing.

5) To reach the above temples, you will cut through Komachi Dori street first, souvenirs anyone? More photos on Google Map site.

     

Spotted a short escalator on the way back, some tourists were happily posing :p

6) There is a famous pancake nearby, Iwata Coffee offers fluffy pancake for tea break, lunch or anytime (GPS 35.322637, 139551448)

For Yen 880, you get two thick slabs of pancake. Flaky texture outside, soft and moist inside, yummy. Sugar syrup overdose, I could not finish my pancake and had to tabao (takeaway).

The wait for the good pancake (30minutes!) derailed my itinerary haha, but many faithful fans do not mind waiting. Iwata has been around since 1849!

7) Woke up early to catch the Sunrise. Took the first Enoden train and headed towards Yuigahama Beach (very near to Buddha place).

I even ran 6km back to my budget Ryokan in cool 13 degrees!

8) Do Google for Onsen hot spots in Kamakura too. A few exclusive ones offer sea and sunset views too.

9) Enoshima Aquarium is highly rated too

10) You must visit Enoshima island if you are in Kamakura. It is criminal to miss Enoshima in your Kamakura day trip haha.

After Onsen and dinner, walk 15 minutes to Enoshima catch the sunset. You should not miss “Sea candle” landmark and beautiful illuminations at Cocking Garden.

Enoshima Christmas lights up deserves a separate post. I caught a field of tulips in 2017’s Winter 🙂

I will blog about my budget Ryokan and Enoshima island in the next post, meanwhile all photos uploaded on our Fanpage album.

kamakura photos

Kamakura day trip definitely has enough attractions to keep whole families entertained,you may catch my Japan Fun at Instagram hashtag #sengkangBabiesJapan

Do pop by the other 2018 Japan posts too:
Tokyo Diy itinerary
Gokart Maricar in Shibuya!
Sento or Onsen
Kamakura Family Itinerary
Enoshima Island

My Sento Experience

My one and only Sento experience was in Tokyo. Sento is a community bathhouse in Japan, and it is very common for Japanese folks.

Travellers crave for Onsen, but Sento offers another perspective. As an analogy, Singaporeans enjoy authentic food at Hawker Centre but tourists go to foodcourt and restaurants. To understand the locals better, go to a Sento.

The first question many will ask, what is the difference between Onsen and Sento. The Japanese translations are 温泉 and 銭湯 respectively.

Read on and you might find Sento appealing too.
I could do a Sento everyday, if time permits 🙂

蛇骨湯銭湯

Long time ago, not every home has a shower facility, much less hot water. So Japanese go to bathhouses for a soak and relaxation.

Jakotsuyu 蛇骨湯 is in Asakusa (quite near to Sensoji Temple), there are at least 3 bathhouses within 20 minutes walk from my hostel. The bathhouse which I went was 95% Japanese patrons. I saw some Korean, Taiwanese and even a few Caucasians. I might be the only Singaporean. Non-Japanese might be curious about Sento, just like me.

What are the difference between Onsen and Sento?

Both requires you to go butt naked (no underwear).
You will sit on stools and scrub yourself clean before entering the water.
Both are normally segregated by gender.
Onsen usually use hot spring waters, but sentos normally use hot water.

Those bath scenes in Japan Hour where you have public pools offering panoramic views of Mountains, Sunsets, Sea or Snow are usually Onsens.  Sentos are confined spaces, and we will likely see a huge mural of Mount Fuji 🙂

Onsen is more sensuous (read exclusive), while Sento is like you bathing with 30 others!

No swimming in the pool for both Onsen and Sento 🙂

Sento price

Sento is very popular with Japanese, many will socialise with colleagues or neighbours during their baths, or simply scrub or wash away office fatigues before heading home.

(Photo above)
Did I mention Sento entrance fee is ¥460 (Yen), which is only SGD 5.50!

No footwear

Sento Experience and tips

After selecting your Sento package at the vending machine, keep your shoes and approach the counter. You can rent a towel.

No 1 tip is try to look like a local, and not appear too apprehensive. Japanese will still know you are non-local :p

-Head towards the male section, and you will see guys in various stages of stripping. Just chill and strip, try to ignore the 20 pairs of eyes who might be eyeballing you wahaha!

-Keep your belongings in a locker (free) and keep the key

The first mistake I made was wearing my spectacles into the bath area!
My glasses immediately fog and everyone now know I am virgin Sento user (Silly me)

-(Step 1)Find a corner, sit on the stool and lather yourself with copious amount of shampoo or shower foam. Slowly rinse away the soap with a pail or scoop

-Onsen and Sento culture requires you to sit and wash, standing up would mean splashing water onto others (taboo!)

-Do Google for more Sento and Onsen etiquette

-Why my Sento water is brown in colour? Google told me this is natural mineral water colour, pumped from 1000m below

-Temperature of water can be hot, from 37 degrees to 42 degrees! Dip your toes before immersing whole body, no sulphur smell here.

-There are different pools to enjoy:

I loved the jacuzzi jets, soothing my sore muscle. I did not enjoy the tingling feel from the “electric” pool. YES, they ran a small current through the water eeeks! The electric pulses are supposed to improve our body health circulation, but my body says “No thanks”.

-VR 360 degree tour of interior (photo link)

Image credit Google Map

-Same as Onsen, first timers should step out of hot water after 15 minutes (just a guide). How long we can dip in hot (or cold) water is subjective, listen to your body.

-Photo above, the graphite pools are 17 degrees cooling pools. Alternate between Hot and Cold pools. You will feel your pores open and contract, feels like mini needles prickling but in a nice I-am-so-alive way  (you will be SHIVERING as you step into the cold pool!)

-After getting out of the cold pool, let your body temperature stabilise first. Sit on long stools, face the fake waterfall feature. There are real kois in the pond, close your eyes and soak in the Japan Hour moment 😁
(try to forget you are still naked, no one is seeing )

-Repeat this Hot Cold cycles as many times  as you like 🙂
I was in Jakotsuyu 蛇骨湯 for at least 1 hour, three cycles.

-Once you are done, repeat Step 1 and dry yourself.

-Buy a drink, Meiji milk recommended, and rest for a while. We need to replenish the loss fluids

-Blood circulation is still working hard. Do not return towel yet, as you will still perspire for a good 10 minutes

Mount Fuji in Sento wall

Before you book your Onsen and Sento session

Skin felt detox and so smooth.  But I also felt lethargic as the Sento experience really relaxed my body and soul. I just wanted to enjoy a hot bowl of Ramen (Ippudo is just 2 mins away) and go to sleep straight away.

-Not sure where is the nearest Sento or Onsen, just Google. You will have better luck using “銭湯 or 温泉” instead of “Public bath”.

-Do Google and find whether the Sento or Onsen establishment welcomes tattoo (Some in Japanese society still associate tattoos with Yakuza)

-Just in case, ensure your shortlisted Sento is not Gay 🙂
(There are some outlets which cater for LGBT needs )

-My Sento at Jakotsuyu 蛇骨湯 (GPS 35.712036, 139.792607) is crowded, but I can do this Japan bath everyday!

-You should have some Onsen experience before heading to a Sento. It can be an overwhelming and unnerving experience with so many male (or female) genitals walking around (keep your head and eyes up). For the same reason, I would not recommend sento experience for families.

-Sento is normally split into male and female sections, the huge Mount Fuji center might be the demarcation line. It is popular for couples to shower separately, and meet afterwards.


Be it Onsen or Sento experience, I find both appealing and relaxing. However, Sento might not be suitable for everyone.

I found the Sento experience liberating.
I had wanted to try Sento because I was curious and you know, YOLO factor.

First-timers maybe go in a group to bolster your courage.
Learn how Japanese enjoy public bathhouses culture.
Chit chat with locals and enjoy the majestic Mount Fuji mural.

More photos of Jakotsuyu 蛇骨湯 from Google Map here.
Hope you will enjoy your Japanese Bathhouse Sento experience too 🙂

Sento Experience
My first Sento Experience

This is one of the queer and weird experiences during my last trip to Tokyo. You may read about my Mario Kart (MariCar) and Kamakura experience too.

Read my Tokyo itinerary and see more photos on Instagram #SengkangBabiesJapan

We have some tips on how using Google Map to search for nearby attractions or cafes (link)