The Long Hike: Kamakura Daibutsu Hiking Course

Would you like to go on a little walk? Head to Kamakura, and bring lots of water with you!
 Start here, at Tokeiji Temple.
 The temple grounds are very nice!
 Spend some time exploring the temple, because admission is 200 yen here.
 The grounds are very photogenic, especially on a sunny, warm spring day.
 Hello, smaller statue of a Buddha. I'll see your bigger friend later.
 I spent a long time here!
 Getting toward the back of the complex, it looks more like a hiking trail. But it isn't.
 Actually, there's a cemetery in the hill.
 A nice tree was in bloom.
 If you time your visit right, you'll hear them ring the bell.
 When you're done here, head down the path a little and cross the small stone bridge to...
 Jochiji Temple.
 Admission here is 200 yen too. The grounds are laid out in a sort of loop. You'll see a treasure house.
 And a nice tea house across a garden.
 Pretty flowers!
 Another cemetery.
 The temple is built into a mountain, and the cemetery is built up the side.
 A few caves can be found carved into the mountain.
 One cave is long and dark. Go on, head all the way in. If you dare.
 The temple was founded in the 13th century.
 Follow the arrow...
 Go through the cave!
 More of the graveyard.
 And Hotei, the God of Happiness. Rub the statue, I think.
 While Jochiji is very beautiful, there's a lot of walking left to do.
 Leave the temple, and find the path alongside it.
 You're basically on the hiking trail once you leave the street.
 Go past a gate covered in mushrooms.
 A small path leading to a lonely chimney actually leads to a restaurant. You want the other direction.
 Zeniarai Benten is the temple you'll come across around the top of the mountain.
 Lots of bad fortunes, tied off to keep them from coming true.
 A small man made pond with potted plants.
 A turtle!
 There are lots of turtles in the water, and they were all out sunning themselves when I visited.
 Not far from the temple, I was able to see Mount Fuji through the haze.
 I'm at Kewaizaka.
 Head down the path...
 And you're rewarded with a large statue of Minamoto Yoritomo, a shogun who ruled Japan for about seven years. From here, the trail is a road through a small development, and signage isn't the best though it does exist in some areas. It's best to study a map to be sure you go the right way. Continue back along the main trail until you reach a road that tunnels under the mountain, and head down the road.
 You'll soon come to the Daibutsu, the Great Buddha statue. Admission here is 200 yen, and it's quite a popular tourist attraction. Many people just come here, or take a tour of just the temples and the Daibutsu without taking the hike.
 It's the second-tallest Buddha statue in Japan, with only Nara's statue being taller. Typhoons and a tidal wave kept washing away buildings, so it stands in the open now.
 You can go inside the statue for 20 yen. It's a bit cramped getting up to the main floor, but it's a neat place to be. Be sure to touch Buddha from the inside, especially in the afternoon.
Of course, the hike itself is quite fun and takes about 90 minutes to complete. Anyone in relatively good shape should be able to handle it fairly easily, and there are some nice views of the coast.

If you start in Kita-Kamakura like I did, the start of the trail is about 10 minutes from Kita-Kamakura Station, but there are four shrines between the station and the trail head. It's possible to take a side trail to Jufukuji, as well. If you follow the trail all the way to the Daibutsu, you can then walk down the hill to Hase Station, from where you can get back to Tokyo or on to other destinations. While the trail takes 60-90 minutes to complete, those who like to stop and explore the temples, or want to take a bunch of pictures, should plan to spend even longer - I think I totaled about three hours including a quick lunch stop in Hase.

A GPS log of someone's hike along the trail in 2009 can be found at this blog.

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