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March 16, 2013 - Kamakura - North Western Bike Ride
Just like a smaller version of Kyoto - spending one day in Kamakura does not do justice to how much there is to see in this small town. Below is a general bike ride that could be completed within 5-6 hours with attractions or a full day via walking. Hint - there is a bike rental store close to the East entrance of Kamakura station. It's not cheap - but it does let you get much further than via walking.
This general tour starts near Kamakura station and travels north west to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.
The shrine is about 10 minutes by bike from Kamakura station. Traffic seems to always be busy getting here. Hint - this will be a perfect place for Hanami in a week or so as there is a long walkway towards the shrine which is adorned by many cherry trees.
Entrance to the Shrine is free - but there is a treasure house which can be visited in the middle that costs 250 Yen from memory to enter. There are also quite a few food matsuri stores on the walk towards the shrine.
To get to Kenchoji Temple, head 10-15 North West by bike from the shrine. Going left will take you towards this temple and the others. You know you are going to right way if there is a reasonably large hill and a small tunnel. This temple is quite a large complex and has lots of small walks and other temples towards the back. Entrance is 300 Yen and you could at least spend 30-60 minutes here.
Almost directly across the road from Kenchoji Temple is Ennoji Temple . It costs 200 Yen to enter and is as a temple quite unspectacular. However - there are some very interesting and old statues inside the temple. For some people - these statues will be one of the highlights of Kamakura and for some they will think it's a waste of money....
Another 5 minutes down the road towards Kita-kamakura station is Chojuji Temple. It was closed at the time but is meant to cost 300 Yen to enter. If it's worth visiting is still a mystery....
If you keep riding towards Kita-kamakura station you will see some train lines - cross the train lines and follow the signs to Meigetsuin Temple. It should take no longer than 5 minutes to get here from the previous temple. This temple costs 300 Yen and you don't come here for the buildings but for the nice gardens. I really enjoyed coming here - but would look even better in later spring, summer or autumn. I would not come here in winter.
To get to Engakuji Temple you will need to backtrack towards the train lines but turn right just before the train crossing. It should take no longer than 5 minutes to get here from the previous temple and it's almost opposite Kita-kamakura station. It costs 300 Yen to enter and once again it's a huge complex. This place will look spectacular during cherry blossom season in a week or so.
Once again, you cross the train line and Tokeji Temple is a whole 3 minutes away. It costs 100 or 200 yen to enter (cant exactly remember) and it has a nice garden and tea room. It's meant to be famous and very busy in summer because of the hydrangeas.
To get to Jochiji temple, head towards Kamakura station and ride for a whole 3 minutes. This temple once again has a nice garden and is famous for the God of Happiness. It would be easy to spend 20-30 minutes strolling around or even longer if you want to soak up the atmosphere. 200 Yen entrance
It's around a 15 minute bike ride to Kamakura station from here. It's mainly downhill or a small decline.