For a taste of Japanese culture by the sea, there is only one place to head: Kamakura. Dubbed the Hamptons of Tokyo – or Brighton, depending on who you talk to – Kamakura is a lush green mountainous coastal town around one hour from Tokyo which has long attracted a creative community of writers, artists and surfers.
Aside from its beautiful landscape and chilled atmosphere, the main reason to visit the area is its heritage: a former ancient capital of Japan, it brims with temples, shrines and Buddhist statues. Hire a bicycle at Kamakura station, pick up a bento box picnic lunch and jump on the culture trail. Top of the list is the Great Buddha of Kamakura, a vast copper 13th century creation standing more than 13 metres tall in the grounds of Kotokuin Temple. Explore the atmospheric gardens, bamboo forest and goddess sculptures of Hasedera temple. Pass through the red torii gates of the monumental Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shinto shrine.
Cultural mission accomplished? Head to the beach for a sunset beer. Kamakura: to get there, take the JR Yokosuka line from Tokyo Station (Y890). For a round trip ticket and free access to coastal monorail lines, buy a JR Kamakura-Enoshima Free Kippu.
Image: by JNTO