KA­MAKURA: THE IN­SID­ERS

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - Akemi Ohno

AKEMI OHNO KA­MAKURA RES­I­DENT AND GUIDE­BOOK AU­THOR

GO: About an hour by train from cen­tral Tokyo and over­look­ing Sagami Bay, Ka­makura draws tourists for its cul­ture and his­tory. Take the out­bound JR Yoko­suka Line or JR Sho­nan-Shin­juku Line from Tokyo and get off at Kita-Ka­makura or the next sta­tion, Ka­makura; japan­rail-pass.com.

SEE: Tsu­ru­gaoka Hachi­mangu, a Shinto shrine, is the most vis­ited spot in Ka­makura, where the story of the rise and fall of the first mil­i­tary shogu­nate un­folded for about 150 years from the end of the 12th cen­tury. The Ka­makura shogu­nate was es­tab­lished by Mi­namoto Yorit­omo, a de­scen­dant of the Em­peror Seiwa, and it emerged as a chal­leng­ing force against the Im­pe­rial Court in Ky­oto. Ka­makura is also a re­li­gious place with about 100 Bud­dhist tem­ples and 40 Shinto shrines, many of which were built by Mi­namoto, his an­ces­tors or mem­bers of his wife’s Hojo clan. Churches and old western­ised build­ings built in the early to mid-20th cen­tury are also part of the fab­ric of Ka­makura. Af­ter the Meiji gov­ern­ment lifted the ban on Chris­tian­ity in 1873, West­ern mis­sion­ar­ies started to visit Ja­pan; tsu­ru­gaoka-hachi­mangu.jp.

DINE: Au­then­tic cui­sine is served at the Miche­lin­starred Gen­toan and Hachi­noki. It’s re­fresh­ing to have a cup of matcha (green tea) in an open, bam­booshaded tea­house at the Hokokuji Tem­ple, or in the tatami room of Kisen-an, a tea­house fac­ing a dry gar­den at the Jomy­oji Tem­ple; gm.gnavi.co.jp/home.

DO: At Ken­choji, Ja­pan’s first Zen train­ing monastery, es­tab­lished in 1253, Zen med­i­ta­tion ses­sions are held in English sev­eral times a year. Yabusame (horse­back archery) draws large crowds at Tsu­ru­gaoka Hachi­mangu shrine in April and Septem­ber; an archer gal­lop­ing on horse­back aims at three di­a­mond­shaped marks ar­ranged along a 250m-long rid­ing ground; en.ka­makura-info.jp; jnto.org.au.

HIKE: The 3km-long Kuzuhara­gaoka Daibutsu trail goes by Ze­niarai Ben­ten shrine and ends near the Hasedera Tem­ple and the Great Bud­dha of Ka­makura at Ko­toku-in, a land­mark 11.3m-tall bronze out­door seated statue that has been de­clared a na­tional trea­sure; ko­toku-in.jp/en.

BEACH: At Wakaenoshima Beach you may find a frag­ment of celadon ware brought by ship from China, thrown over­board in a storm and de­posited un­der wa­ter for cen­turies; en.ka­makura-info.jp.

SUN­SET: Cape Ina­mura­gasaki is a popular spot to watch the sun go down with em­blem­atic Mount Fuji in the back­ground.

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