Side Trips from Tokyo

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Side Trips from Tokyo - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Hakone Kowakien Yunessun

    This complex on the hills overlooking Hakone has more than the average onsen. In addition to all the water-based attractions, there is a shopping mall...

    This complex on the hills overlooking Hakone has more than the average onsen. In addition to all the water-based attractions, there is a shopping mall modeled on a European outdoor market, swimsuit rental shop, massage salon, and game center. The park is divided into two main zones, called Yunessun and Mori no Yu (Forest Bath). In the Yunessun side, you need to wear a swimsuit, and can visit somewhat tacky re-creations of Turkish and ancient Roman baths. You can also take a dip in coffee, green tea, sake, or red wine. It is all a bit corny, but fun. Younger visitors enjoy the waterslides on "Rodeo Mountain." In the more secluded Mori no Yu side, you can go au naturel in a variety of indoor and outdoor, single-sex baths. When signing in at reception, get a waterproof digital wristband that allows you to pay for lockers and drink machines within the complex.

    1297 Ninotaira Hakone-machi, Hakone, Kanagawa-ken, 250–0407, Japan
    0460-82–4126

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Yunessun zone ¥2,500, Mori no Yu zone ¥1,500; both for ¥3,500
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  • 2. Hakone Open-Air Museum

    Only a few minutes' walk from the Miyanoshita Station (directions are posted in English), the museum houses an astonishing collection of 19th- and 20th-century Western...

    Only a few minutes' walk from the Miyanoshita Station (directions are posted in English), the museum houses an astonishing collection of 19th- and 20th-century Western and Japanese sculpture, most of it on display in a spacious, handsome garden. There are works here by Rodin, Moore, Arp, Calder, Giacometti, Takashi Shimizu, and Kotaro Takamura. One section of the garden is devoted to Emilio Greco. Inside are works by Picasso, Léger, and Manzo, among others.

    1121 Ninotaira, Hakone, Kanagawa-ken, 250-0493, Japan
    0460-82–1161

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥1,600
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  • 3. Hase-dera Temple

    The only temple in Kamakura facing the sea, this is one of the most beautiful, and saddest, places of pilgrimage in the city. On a...

    The only temple in Kamakura facing the sea, this is one of the most beautiful, and saddest, places of pilgrimage in the city. On a landing partway up the stone steps that lead to the temple grounds are hundreds of small stone images of Jizo, one of the bodhisattvas in the Buddhist pantheon. Jizo is the savior of children, particularly the souls of the stillborn, aborted, and miscarried; the mothers of these children dress the statues of Jizo in bright red bibs and leave them small offerings of food, heartbreakingly touching acts of prayer. The Kannon Hall (Kannon-do) at Hase-dera enshrines the largest carved-wood statue in Japan: the votive figure of Juichimen Kannon, the 11-headed goddess of mercy. Standing 30 feet tall, the goddess bears a crown of 10 smaller heads, symbolizing her ability to search out in all directions for those in need of her compassion. No one knows for certain when the figure was carved. According to the temple records, a monk named Tokudo Shonin carved two images of the Juichimen Kannon from a huge laurel tree in 721. One was consecrated to the Hase-dera in present-day Nara Prefecture; the other was thrown into the sea in order to go wherever the sea decided that there were souls in need, and that image washed up on shore near Kamakura. Much later, in 1342, Takauji Ashikaga—the first of the 15 Ashikaga shoguns who followed the Kamakura era—had the statue covered with gold leaf. The Amida Hall of Hase-dera enshrines the image of a seated Amida Buddha, who presides over the Western Paradise of the Pure Land. Minamoto no Yoritomo ordered the creation of this statue when he reached the age of 42; popular Japanese belief, adopted from China, holds that your 42nd year is particularly unlucky. Yoritomo's act of piety earned him another 11 years—he was 53 when he was thrown by a horse and died of his injuries. The Buddha is popularly known as the yakuyoke (good luck) Amida, and many visitors—especially students facing entrance exams—make a point of coming here to pray. To the left of the main halls is a small restaurant where you can buy good-luck candy and admire the view of Kamakura Beach and Sagami Bay.

    3–11–2 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa-ken, 248-0016, Japan
    0467-22–6300

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥400
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  • 4. Kamakura Great Buddha

    The single biggest attraction in Hase is the Great Buddha—sharing the honors with Mt. Fuji, perhaps, as the quintessential picture-postcard image of Japan. The statue...

    The single biggest attraction in Hase is the Great Buddha—sharing the honors with Mt. Fuji, perhaps, as the quintessential picture-postcard image of Japan. The statue of the compassionate Amida Buddha sits cross-legged in the temple courtyard. The 37-foot bronze figure was cast in 1292, three centuries before Europeans reached Japan; the concept of the classical Greek lines in the Buddha's robe must have come over the Silk Route through China during the time of Alexander the Great. The casting was probably first conceived in 1180, by Minamoto no Yoritomo, who wanted a statue to rival the enormous Daibutsu in Nara. Until 1495 the Amida Buddha was housed in a wooden temple, which washed away in a great tidal wave. It may seem sacrilegious to walk inside the Great Buddha, but for ¥200 you can enter the figure from a doorway in the right side and explore his stomach, with a stairway that leads up to two windows in his back, offering a stunning view of the temple grounds (open until 4:15 pm). To reach Kotoku-in and the Great Buddha, take the Enoden Line from the west side of JR Kamakura Station three stops to Hase. From the East Exit, turn right and walk north about 10 minutes on the main street (Route 32).

    4–2–28 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa-ken, 248-0016, Japan
    0467-22–0703

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥300
  • 5. Kegon Falls

    More than anything else, the country's most famous falls are what draw the crowds of Japanese visitors to Chuzenji. Fed by the eastward flow of...

    More than anything else, the country's most famous falls are what draw the crowds of Japanese visitors to Chuzenji. Fed by the eastward flow of the lake, the falls drop 318 feet into a rugged gorge; an elevator takes you to an observation platform at the bottom. The volume of water over the falls is carefully regulated, but it's especially impressive after a summer rain or a typhoon. In winter the falls do not freeze completely but form a beautiful cascade of icicles. The elevator is just a few minutes' walk east from the bus stop at Chuzenji village, downhill and off to the right at the far end of the parking lot.

    2479--2 Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi-ken, 321-1661, Japan
    0288-55–0030

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Elevator ¥570
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  • 6. Mt. Fuji

    Rising up out of the surrounding plains, the single, flat-topped peak of Mt. Fuji is a sight to behold. Spending a day—or more commonly an...

    Rising up out of the surrounding plains, the single, flat-topped peak of Mt. Fuji is a sight to behold. Spending a day—or more commonly an afternoon and the following morning—to hike Mt. Fuji can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience with a fascinating variety of terrain and a stunning view of the sunrise from the peak—provided you go into it with the right expectations. Unlike Japan’s more remote mountains like the Japan Alps, Fuji is crowded, and the summer hiking season, when trails are open and accessible (roughly July through September), is short. Timing your hike to see the sunrise can mean that the final stretch to the summit can feel more like waiting in line than hiking. Still, making the trek to the top and watching the sunrise from Japan’s most sacred mountain is a singularly incredible experience, and there is fun to be had climbing with the crowd. There are four trails up Fuji, but the most common starting point is the Subaru Line 5th Station (aka Kawaguchiko 5th Station), which is easily accessed by direct buses from Tokyo, Hakone, and many other cities. From here it takes between five to seven hours to reach the summit. The descent takes another three to four hours. There are numerous mountain huts on the way up to sleep for a few hours and adjust to the altitude (¥10,000--¥14,000 per person for a dorm spot, which includes dinner and breakfast), but they fill up quickly during peak times. Spots can be reserved for some huts online, but others require a phone call. The length and altitude require a decent level of fitness but no technical climbing skills.

    Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Yamanashi-ken, 401-0320, Japan

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Outside of hiking season, the weather is highly unpredictable and extremely dangerous, so climbing is strongly discouraged, ¥1,000
  • 7. Mt. Takao

    When the concrete skyscrapers of Shinjuku become a bit too much, you can escape to the foot of Mt. Takao and the heavily wooded Meiji...

    When the concrete skyscrapers of Shinjuku become a bit too much, you can escape to the foot of Mt. Takao and the heavily wooded Meiji Memorial Forest Park that surrounds it in about an hour. Hiking along one of the trails that lead to the top of the 599-meter (1,965-foot) mountain, or enjoying the picturesque view from one of the cable cars that zip up to the peak, it can be difficult to believe that you are still within the limits of the Tokyo metropolitan area. The mountain is associated with tengu, one of the best known yokai (monster-spirits) of Japanese folklore. This is also the start of the Tokai Nature Trail, which leads all the way to Osaka. The mountain is home to a temple, a monkey zoo, a botanical garden, and a beer hall, but it if you make an early start, it is possible to take in everything in one day, and be back to central Tokyo by nightfall. The Mt. Takao climb is not nearly as grueling as that of Mt. Fuji, but proper planning is necessary to ensure a safe and pleasant hike. If you intend to take the cable car or the paved trail, wear comfortable sneakers. The unpaved trails, on the other hand, can get quite slippery and hiking boots are essential. It is also a good idea to bring a raincoat in case of sudden showers. The heavily wooded mountain can expose you to extremes of humidity, sunshine, and wind, so dress in layers. Bring plenty of bottled water—there is no running water anywhere on the mountain. Although there are overpriced vending machines and food stalls, your best bet is to pack a lunch. It is mountain-climbing etiquette in Japan to greet people you overtake on the way up or meet coming the opposite direction. Smile and say "konnichiwa." On weekends, the mountain gets unpleasantly overcrowded. On weekdays there are still plenty of hikers but it is a pleasant hike regardless. By far the most popular way to get to the top of Mt. Takao, Trail 1 starts at Kiyotaka Station, the base station of the cable car, and takes a fairly direct, paved route to the visitor center at the top (3.8 km [2.4 miles], approximately 1 hour, 40 minutes). The descent is especially stunning at sunset. If you take the cable car, you'll join this trail a third of the way up. Near the start of Trail 1 is a detour to konpira-dai, one of several small shrines on the mountain, where there is a clear view of central Tokyo. After returning to Trail 1, continue along as you pass Sanjo Station (the upper station of the chairlift) and Takaosan Station (the cable-car terminal), and you will come to tenbodai, an observatory with another view of the Tokyo skyline. If you continue on the trail, pass through Joshinmon Gate and on toward the peak. Or, you detour to Trail 2, a loop (900 yards, 30 minutes) that meets back up with Trail 1 farther up the mountain. Going right on Trail 2 will take you past the hebitaki, a picturesque natural waterfall. Going to the left will take you past the Monkey Zoo and Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden features wild plants indigenous to the area with explanations mainly in Japanese, and the zoo is home to a few dozen clever monkeys, also native to the mountain (¥400 for entrance to both). If you skip Trail 2 and continue on Trail 1, the next stop is at the octopus cedar, a tree with exposed roots so fantastical, they resemble a giant sea monster. At this point, you will reach the Joshinmon Gate. Continue to the busharito, a stone pagoda that literally means "Buddha's bone," and is said to mark one of the spots where pieces of Buddha's remains were spread around the world after his cremation. Just past this is Yakuoin Temple, dedicated to Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of Medicine, believed to be built in 744. The 2,500 historical documents surviving in the temple explain Japanese religious beliefs during the Warring States (mid-1400s–1603) and Edo (1603–1868) periods. Trail 1 then continues on to the visitor center at the peak, passing beech, oak, and Japanese nutmeg trees along the way.

    Takao-machi, Tokyo, Tokyo-to, Japan
  • 8. Toshogu Nikko Shrine

    With its riot of colors and carvings, inlaid pillars, red-lacquer corridors, and extensive use of gold leaf, this 17th-century shrine to Ieyasu Tokugawa is one...

    With its riot of colors and carvings, inlaid pillars, red-lacquer corridors, and extensive use of gold leaf, this 17th-century shrine to Ieyasu Tokugawa is one of the most elaborately decorated shrines in Japan. The Hon-den (Main Hall) of Toshogu is the ultimate purpose of the shrine. You approach it from the rows of lockers at the far end of the enclosure; here you remove and store your shoes, step up into the shrine, and follow a winding corridor to the Oratory (Hai-den)—the anteroom, resplendent in its lacquered pillars, carved friezes, and coffered ceilings bedecked with dragons. Over the lintels are paintings by Tosa Mitsuoki (1617–91) of the 36 great poets of the Heian period, with their poems in the calligraphy of Emperor Go-Mizunoo. Deeper yet, at the back of the Oratory, is the Inner Chamber (Nai-jin)—repository of the Sacred Mirror that represents the spirit of the deity enshrined here. The hall is enclosed by a wall of painted and carved panel screens; opposite the right-hand corner of the wall, facing the shrine, is the Kito-den, a hall where annual prayers were once offered for the peace of the nation. Behind the Inner Chamber is the Innermost Chamber (Nai-Nai-jin). No visitors come this far. Here, in the very heart of Toshogu, is the gold-lacquer shrine where the spirit of Ieyasu resides—along with two other deities, whom the Tokugawas later decided were fit companions. One was Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Ieyasu's mentor and liege lord in the long wars of unification at the end of the 16th century. The other was Minamoto no Yoritomo, brilliant military tactician and founder of the earlier (12th-century) Kamakura Shogunate (Ieyasu claimed Yoritomo for an ancestor). Between the Goma-do and the Kagura-den (a hall where ceremonial dances are performed to honor the gods) is a passage to the Sakashita-mon (Gate at the Foot of the Hill). Above the gateway is another famous symbol of Toshogu, the Sleeping Cat—a small panel said to have been carved by Hidari Jingoro (Jingoro the Left-handed), a late-16th-century master carpenter and sculptor credited with important contributions to numerous Tokugawa-period temples, shrines, and palaces. Climb the flight of 200 stone steps through a forest of cryptomeria to arrive at Ieyasu's tomb--worth it for the view of the Yomei-mon and Kara-mon from above. The centerpiece of Toshogu is the Yomei-mon (Gate of Sunlight), at the top of the second flight of stone steps. A designated National Treasure, it's also called the Higurashi-mon (Twilight Gate)—implying that you could gape at its richness of detail all day, until sunset. And rich it is indeed: 36 feet high and dazzling white, the gate has 12 columns, beams, and roof brackets carved with dragons, lions, clouds, peonies, Chinese sages, and demigods, painted vivid hues of red, blue, green, and gold. On one of the central columns, there are two carved tigers; the natural grain of the wood is used to bring out the "fur." As you enter the Yomei-mon, there are galleries running east and west for some 700 feet; their paneled fences are also carved and painted with nature motifs. The portable shrines that appear in the Toshogu Festival, held yearly on May 17–18, are kept in the Shinyo-sha, a storeroom to the left as you come through the Twilight Gate into the heart of the shrine. The paintings on the ceiling, of tennin (Buddhist angels) playing harps, are by Tan-yu Kano (1602–74). Mere mortals may not pass through the Chinese Gate (Kara-mon), which is the "official" entrance to the Toshogu inner shrine. Like its counterpart, the Yomei-mon, on the opposite side of the courtyard, the Kara-mon is a National Treasure—and, like the Yomei-mon, is carved and painted in elaborate detail with dragons and other auspicious figures.

    2301 Sannai, Nikko, Tochigi-ken, 321-1431, Japan
    0288-54–0560

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥1,300
  • 9. Yokohama Red Brick Warehouses

    Naka-ku

    History meets entertainment at Yokohama's Red Brick Warehouses, just a few minutes from World Porters Mall in the Minato Mirai district. Constructed in 1911 to...

    History meets entertainment at Yokohama's Red Brick Warehouses, just a few minutes from World Porters Mall in the Minato Mirai district. Constructed in 1911 to accommodate trade, partially destroyed ten years later in the Kanto earthquake, and then used for military storage in World War II before being taken over by the United States upon Japan's surrender, today these redbrick warehouses are a hipster haven. You'll find unique shops and cafés, restaurants and bars (some with balcony seating), and event spaces. You'll find seasonal fairs and markets and the seafront areas are a perfect picnic spot.

    1--1 Shinko, Yokohama, Kanagawa-ken, 231-0001, Japan
  • 10. Akechi-daira Ropeway

    If you want to avoid the hairpin turns, try the ropeway that runs from Akechi-daira Station directly to the Akechi-daira lookout. It takes three minutes...

    If you want to avoid the hairpin turns, try the ropeway that runs from Akechi-daira Station directly to the Akechi-daira lookout. It takes three minutes and the panoramic views of Nikko and Kegon Falls are priceless.

    703 Hosomachi, Nikko, Tochigi-ken, 321-1445, Japan
    0288-55–0331

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥1,000 round trip
  • 11. Atagawa

    South of Ito the coastal scenery is lovely—each sweep around a headland reveals another picturesque sight of a rocky, indented shoreline. There are several spa...

    South of Ito the coastal scenery is lovely—each sweep around a headland reveals another picturesque sight of a rocky, indented shoreline. There are several spa towns en route to Shimoda. Higashi-Izu (East Izu) has numerous hot-springs resorts, of which Atagawa is the most fashionable. South of Atagawa is Kawazu, a place of relative quiet and solitude, with pools in the forested mountainside and waterfalls plunging through lush greenery.

    Ito, Shizuoka-ken, Japan
  • 12. Atami Plum Garden

    The best time to visit the garden is in late January or early February, when its 850 trees bloom. If you do visit, also stop...

    The best time to visit the garden is in late January or early February, when its 850 trees bloom. If you do visit, also stop by the small shrine that's in the shadow of an enormous old camphor tree. The shrine is more than 1,000 years old and is popular with people who are asking the gods for help with alcoholism. The tree is more than 2,000 years old and has been designated a National Monument. It's believed that if you walk around the tree once, another year will be added to your life. Atami Bai-en is always open to the public and is 15 minutes by bus from Atami or an eight-minute walk from Kinomiya Station, the next stop south of Atami served by local trains.

    8–11 Baien-cho, Atami, Shizuoka-ken, 413-0032, Japan
    0557-85–2222

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥300 Jan.--early Mar., free the rest of the year
  • 13. Bashamichi Street

    Naka-ku

    Running southwest from Shinko Pier to Kannai is Bashamichi, which literally translates into "Horse-Carriage Street." The street was so named in the 19th century, when...

    Running southwest from Shinko Pier to Kannai is Bashamichi, which literally translates into "Horse-Carriage Street." The street was so named in the 19th century, when it was widened to accommodate the horse-drawn carriages of the city's new European residents. This redbrick thoroughfare and the streets parallel to it have been restored to evoke that past, with faux-antique telephone booths and imitation gas lamps. Here you'll find some of the most elegant coffee shops, patisseries, and boutiques in town. On the block northeast of Kannai Station, as you walk toward the waterfront, is Kannai Hall (look for the red-orange abstract sculpture in front), a handsome venue for chamber music, Noh, classical recitals, and occasional performances by such groups as the Peking Opera.

    Yokohama, Kanagawa-ken, 231-0005, Japan
  • 14. Chinatown

    Naka-ku

    Once the largest Chinese settlement in Japan—and easily the city's most popular tourist attraction—Yokohama's Chinatown draws more than 18 million visitors a year. Its narrow...

    Once the largest Chinese settlement in Japan—and easily the city's most popular tourist attraction—Yokohama's Chinatown draws more than 18 million visitors a year. Its narrow streets and alleys are lined with some 350 shops selling foodstuffs, herbal medicines, cookware, toys and ornaments, and clothing and accessories. If China exports it, you'll find it here. Wonderful exotic aromas waft from the spice shops. Even better aromas drift from the quarter's 160-odd restaurants, which serve every major style of Chinese cuisine: this is the best place for lunch in Yokohama. Chinatown is a 10-minute walk southeast of Kannai Station. When you get to Yokohama Stadium, turn left and cut through the municipal park to the top of Nihon-odori. Then take a right, and enter Chinatown through the Gembu-mon (North Gate), which leads to the dazzling red-and-gold, 50-foot-high Zenrin-mon (Good Neighbor Gate).

    Yokohama, Kanagawa-ken, 231-0861, Japan
  • 15. Chuzenji Temple

    A subtemple of Rinno Temple, at Tosho-gu, the principal object of worship here is the Tachi-ki Kannon, a 17-foot-tall standing statue of the Buddhist goddess...

    A subtemple of Rinno Temple, at Tosho-gu, the principal object of worship here is the Tachi-ki Kannon, a 17-foot-tall standing statue of the Buddhist goddess of mercy, said to have been carved more than 1,000 years ago by the priest Shodo from the living trunk of a single Judas tree. The bus trip from Nikko to the national park area ends at Chuzenji village, which shares its name with the temple established here in 784.

    2578 Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi-ken, 321-1661, Japan
    0288-55-0013

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥500
  • 16. Cup Noodles Museum Yokohama

    Naka-ku

    At this hands-on museum, visitors can create their own original instant-ramen flavors and packaging, make fresh noodles by hand, and learn all about what has...

    At this hands-on museum, visitors can create their own original instant-ramen flavors and packaging, make fresh noodles by hand, and learn all about what has become one of Japan's biggest culinary exports. Kids can run through the museum's Cup Noodle Park, a playground simulating the noodle-making process, complete with a "noodle net" and "seasoning pool" ball pit.

    2–3–4 Shinko, Yokohama, Kanagawa-ken, 231-0001, Japan
    045-345–0918

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From ¥500, Closed Tues.
  • 17. Edo Wonderland

    Edo Wonderland, a living-history theme park a short taxi ride from downtown, re-creates an 18th-century Japanese village. The complex includes sculpted gardens with waterfalls and...

    Edo Wonderland, a living-history theme park a short taxi ride from downtown, re-creates an 18th-century Japanese village. The complex includes sculpted gardens with waterfalls and ponds and 22 vintage buildings, where actors in traditional dress stage martial arts exhibitions, historical theatrical performances, and comedy acts. You can even observe Japanese tea ceremony rituals in gorgeous tatami-floor houses, as well as people dressed as geisha and samurai. Strolling stuffed animal characters and acrobatic ninjas keep kids happy. Nikko Edo Mura has one large restaurant and 15 small food stalls serving period cuisine like yakisoba (fried soba) and dango (dumplings).

    470–2 Karakura, Nikko, Tochigi-ken, 321-2524, Japan
    0288-77–1777

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥4,800 unlimited day pass includes rides and shows, Closed Wed
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  • 18. Engaku-ji Temple

    The largest of the Zen monasteries in Kamakura, Engaku-ji (Engaku Temple) was founded in 1282 and ranks second in the Five Mountains hierarchy. Here, prayers...

    The largest of the Zen monasteries in Kamakura, Engaku-ji (Engaku Temple) was founded in 1282 and ranks second in the Five Mountains hierarchy. Here, prayers were to be offered regularly for the prosperity and well-being of the government; Engaku Temple's special role was to pray for the souls of those who died resisting the Mongol invasions in 1274 and 1281. The temple complex currently holds 18 buildings, but once contained as many as 50. Often damaged in fires and earthquakes, it has been completely restored. Engaku Temple belongs to the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. The ideas of Zen were introduced to Japan from China at the beginning of the Kamakura period (1192–1333). The samurai especially admired the Rinzai sect, with its emphasis on the ascetic life as a path to self-transcendence. The monks of Engaku Temple played an important role as advisers to the shogunate in matters spiritual, artistic, and political. Among the National Treasures at Engaku Temple is the Hall of the Holy Relic of Buddha (Shari-den), with its remarkable Chinese-inspired thatched roof. Built in 1282, it was destroyed by fire in 1558 but rebuilt in its original form soon after, in 1563. The hall is said to enshrine a tooth of the Gautama Buddha himself, but it's not on display. In fact, except for the first three days of the New Year, you won't be able to go any farther into the hall than the main gate. Such is the case, alas, with much of the Engaku Temple complex: this is still a functioning monastic center, and many of its most impressive buildings are not open to the public. The accessible National Treasure at Engaku Temple is the Great Bell (Kosho), on the hilltop on the southeast side of the complex. The bell—Kamakura's most famous—was cast in 1301 and stands 8 feet tall. It's rung only on special occasions, such as New Year's Eve. Reaching the bell requires a trek up a long staircase, but once you've made it to the top you can enjoy tea and traditional Japanese sweets at a small outdoor café. The views of the entire temple grounds and surrounding cedar forest from here are tremendous. The two buildings open to the public at Engaku Temple are the Butsunichi-an, which has a long ceremonial hall where you can enjoy sado (Japanese tea ceremony), and the Obai-in. The latter is the mausoleum of the last three regents of the Kamakura Shogunate: Tokimune Hojo, who led the defense of Japan against the Mongol invasions; his son Sadatoki; and his grandson Takatoki. Off to the side of the mausoleum is a quiet garden with apricot trees, which bloom in February. As you exit Kita-Kamakura Station, you'll see the stairway to Engaku Temple just in front of you.

    409 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa-ken, 247-0062, Japan
    0467-22–0478

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥500
  • 19. Enno-ji Temple

    In the feudal period, Japan acquired from China a belief in Enma, the lord of hell, who, with his court attendants, judged the souls of...

    In the feudal period, Japan acquired from China a belief in Enma, the lord of hell, who, with his court attendants, judged the souls of the departed and determined their destination in the afterlife. Kamakura's otherwise undistinguished Enno-ji (Enno Temple) houses some remarkable statues of these judges—as grim and merciless a court as you're ever likely to confront. To see them is enough to put you on your best behavior, at least for the rest of your excursion. Enno Temple is a minute's walk or so from Kencho Temple, on the opposite (south) side of the main road to Kamakura.

    1543 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa-ken, 247-0062, Japan
    0467-25–1095

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥200
  • 20. Enoshima

    The Sagami Bay shore in this area has some of the closest beaches to Tokyo, and in the hot, humid summer months it seems as...

    The Sagami Bay shore in this area has some of the closest beaches to Tokyo, and in the hot, humid summer months it seems as though all of the city's teeming millions pour onto these beaches in search of a vacant patch of rather dirty gray sand. Pass up this mob scene and press on instead to Enoshima. The island is only 4 km (2½ miles) around, with a hill in the middle. Partway up the hill is a shrine where the local fisherfolk used to pray for a bountiful catch—before it became a tourist attraction. Once upon a time it was quite a hike up to the shrine; now there's a series of escalators, flanked by the inevitable stalls selling souvenirs and snacks. The island has several cafés and restaurants, and on clear days some of them have spectacular views of Mt. Fuji and the Izu Peninsula. To reach the causeway from Enoshima Station to the island, walk south from the station for about 3 km (2 miles), keeping the Katase-gawa (Katase River) on your right. To return to Tokyo from Enoshima, take a train to Shinjuku on the Odakyu line. From the island walk back across the causeway and take the second bridge over the Katase-gawa. Within five minutes you'll come to Katase-Enoshima Station. Or you can retrace your steps to Kamakura and take the JR Yokosuka Line to Tokyo Station.

    Kamakura, Kanagawa-ken, Japan
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