Hase-dera is the main temple of the Buzan sect of Shingon Buddhism in Japan. It was founded in the year 686 and is famous for housing a massive eleven-headed wooden statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The statue has a height height of 9.18 meters and is considered to be the biggest wooden statue in the country.
Aside from the statue, Hasedera offers a large and beautiful garden with several ponds, a Jizo-hall containing hundreds of small Jizo statues, an observation deck with beautiful views of Kamakura's coast and a small grotto filled up with statues of the deity Benzaiten.
Turugaoka Hachiman-gu is Kamakura's most important shrine. It was originally built in a different location in 1063, but was enlarged and moved to its current site in 1191 by the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate Minamoto Yorimoto. This shrine is a famous spot to watch the first sunrise of the year, attracting around a million visitors every year.
The shrine is approached by a pleasant long and wide wide pedestrian way, featuring numerous Torii gates and cherry trees, which makes it a popular destination also during springtime. The main hall houses small museum containing treasures and relics owned by the shrine, which can be accessed by paying a fee of 200 Yen.
Kencho-ji is the oldest and most important Zen temple in Kamakura, which was founded in 1253 during the Kencho era (hence its name) on the orders of the Emperor Go-Fukasa. It was originally a grand complex formed by up to 49 sub-temples but nowadays only 10 of them remain, since most of the constructions were destructed by fire during the 14th and 15th centuries.
The temple features a number of important structures, including a Sanmon gate dating from 1754, a huge temple bell cast in 1255 designated as National Treasure and a beautiful and large Zen garden located behind the main hall, which is shaped like the Chinese character for mind and was designed by the famous Zen master Muso Soseki.
Engaku-ji is ranked as the second most important Zen Temple in Kamakura. It was founded in 1282 by order of the ruler of Japan, to pay respect to the fallen soldiers of both sides left after the second Mongolian invasion attempt. Its main attractions are a Sanmon gate dating from 1783, a hall from the 16th century which supposedly houses a tooth of Buddha and a 2.5 meter tall bronze bell which is the largest found in Kamakura.
JR Tokyo Station
55 min. 890¥
Engaku-jo and Kencho-j, together with other minor Temples, are located within a short walk from Kita-Kamakura station, which is located a few stops before arriving to Kamakura.
The Hachiman-gu Shrine can be reached in a 10 minute walk from Kamakura station.
Hasedera and the Great Buddha are located within a short walk from Hase Sation, the third stop in the Enoden Line. The Enoden Railway starts from Kamakura station.