Don’t let Kanagawa’s relatively small size fool you, there’s an incredible number of places to see and discover in this densely populated prefecture south of Tokyo’s bustling metropolis. See the modern cities of Kawasaki and Yokohama, or discover the amazing culture and deep heritage of town’s like Odawada, Kamakura or Hakone when you visit this fun-filled prefecture. Need some ideas? Read on for our pick of 15 things to do in Kagawa.
1. See the Great Buddha of Kamakura
Marvel at the sight of a 121 ton and 13 meter tall statue of Buddha, a striking piece of religious art that has inspired pilgrims and commanded the attention of visitors for nearly 800 years. Miraculously, the Great Buddha of Kamakura has endured the test of time, surviving tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons and even wars. Seeing the Great Buddha is definitely one of our must-do items.
- Name: Kamakura Daibutsu
- Address: Kotokuin Temple, 4 Chome 2-23 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0016
- Phone: +81 46-722-0703
- Price: ¥220
- Access: 10 minute walk from Hase Station
- Opening hour: 08:00 – 17:30
2. Visit the Shariden at Engakuji Temple
Discover one of Japan’s national treasures at the Engakuji Temple in Kamakura Town. Known for its Shariden, a fine example of 16th century Japanese Zen Buddhist architecture, the temple also serves a reminder of the town’s successful overthrow of the Mongolian-Korean invasion from 1274 to 1281. Amazingly, the temple is also said to have one of Buddha’s teeth and is home to yet another Japanese national treasure, the Great Bell.
- Name: Engakuji
- Address: 409 Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 247-0247
- Price: ¥300
- Access: Walk from the Kita-Kamakura Station
- Opening hour: 08:00 – 16:30
3. Explore the Nippon Maru
Built in 1930, the Nippon Maru is an incredible example of Japanese ships and is now a popular museum to visit in Yokohama. Explore the ship’s quarters and learn about its history as the Japanese Merchant Marines’s training ship. Throughout its years of service, the ship has sailed enough kilometers to circle the world 45 times and has trained 11,500 cadets.
- Name: Nippon Maru
- Address: 2 Chome 1-1 Minatomirai, Nihi Ward, yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
- Phone: +81 45-221-0280
- Access: 5 minute walk from MInato Mirai Station
4. Stroll Through the Sankei-en Garden
Stroll through the 43 acre Sankei-en Garden and explore the historical structures all over the premises. Built in between 1902 and 1908 by Sankei Hara, a wealthy silk trader, the garden is composed of site from Kyoto, Kamakura, Shirakawago, Tokyo and Wakayama. All of the buildings were purchased then transported and rebuilt in the garden and are surrounded by beautiful plum and sakura blossoms. Sight see and take advantage of the tranquility at this garden.
- Name: Sankei-en Garden
- Address: 58-1 Honmokusannotani, Naka Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture 231-0824
- Phone: +81 45-621-0634
- Access: 10 minute taxi ride from Negishi Station
- Opening hour: 09:00 – 17:00
5. Visit the Yokohama Landmark Tower
Situated in the futuristic city of Yohama at the Minato Mirai area is Japan’s second tallest building, the Yokohama Landmark Tower. If you’re looking for the best view in Yokohama, this is where you should go to find it. The tower has an observation deck and sky garden on the 69th floor which offers a fantastic urban scenery. You can even spot the majestic Mt. Fuji in the distance.
- Name: Yokohama Landmark Tower
- Address: 2 Chome-2-1 Minatomirai, Nishi Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture 220-0012
- Access: Short walk from Minato Mirai Station
- Opening hour: 11:00 – 20:00
- Website: http://www.yokohama-landmark.jp/web/english/
6. Cruise Around Lake Ashinoko
Incredible view of Mt. Fuji? Check. Magnificent large torii gates? Also check. Lake Ashinoko, located in the Hakone area, is a volcanic crater that can be toured all year round. Set sail across the lake on working replicas of warships from the Edo period and enjoy the best that the picturesque mountain lake has to offer.
- Name: Lake Ashinoko
- Address: Hakone, Ashigarashimo-gun, Hakone-machi 250-0521
- Phone: +81 46-083-7722
- Access: 5 minute walk from the Togendai Ropeway Station
- Website: http://www.lakeashinoko.com/#_=_
7. Scream Your Lungs Out at Cosmo World
Enjoy exhilarating rides and play countless games at the small but impressive Cosmo World. Located on Yokohama’s stunning waterfront, Cosmo World is home to one of the world’s largest ferris wheels, which, at the time of its opening, was also the world’s largest clock. Enjoy the rides, games and snack offerings at the park for a fantastic day.
- Name: Cosmo World
- Address: 2 Chome-8-1 Shinko, Naka Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture 231-0001
- Phone: +81 45-641-6591
- Opening hour: 11:00 – 22:00
8. Try A Serving of Namashirasu Don
Hands down one of the top seasonal dishes in Kanagawa is the Namashirasu Don. One of the prefecture’s specialties, this donburi, or rice bowl, features raw whitebait, a small anchovy-like fish. The dish is often topped with grated radish or ginger and a side of soy sauce or ponzu. Just mix it all up and dig in for absolute deliciousness.
9. See the Three Shrines of Enoshima
Traveling with your significant other? Head to Enoshima Shrine and offer a pink heart, locally known as ema, to the goddess Benzaiten to gain favor and luck for your relationship. Apart from being a hotspot for traveling couples, the Enoshima Shrine offers fantastic architecture and views. It is composed of three shrines located on Enoshima Island.
- Name: Enoshima Shrine
- Address: 2-3-8 Enoshima, Fujisawa City, Kanagawa
- Phone: +81 466-22-4020
- Price: Free admission
- Access: 20 minute walk from the Odakyu Dentetsu Katase-Enoshima Station
- Opening hour: 8:30 – 17:00
10. Slurp Up Some Sanmamen
A twist on the beloved ramen, Sanmamen originated in Yokohama and represents the city’s local taste and flavor preferences. It differs from regular ramen in that the broth is a hot soy based soup and the noodles are topped with a generous serving of mixed stir fried vegetables. Thanks to its widespread popularity in the region, Sanmamen is easy to find and is served at most of Yokohama’s ramen shops.
11. Discover Yokohama Chinatown
While it may seem strange to want to visit Chinatown when you’re exploring one of the most culturally rich countries in the world, this neighborhood in Yokohama is an exciting and colorful locale bustling with activity. Stop by hundreds of Chinese shops, eat mouthwatering Chinese cuisine, and explore the vibrant and intricately designed gates and temples at what used to be Yokohama’s old port area.
- Name: Yokohama Chinatown
- Address: Yamashitacho, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture 231-0023
- Phone: +81 45-662-1252
- Access: 5 minute walk from Motomachi-Chukagai or Ishikawacho Station
12. Swim and Play at Shonan Beach
Surf’s up bro! Home to some decent waves and an awesome view of Mt. Fuji, Shonan Beach is the most popular beach in Japan and a must-visit destination when visiting the Kanagawa Prefecture during summer. Composed of a collection of wide and scenic beaches, Shonan Beach is known for a variety of water activities and, interestingly enough, clam digging. If you want to take part in the wildest and craziest parties that Japan has to offer, visit during the official beach season which lasts the 6 weeks between mid-July and late August.
- Name: Shonan Beach
- Address: Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture
13. Explore the Kenchoji Temple
A quintessential experience in the Kanagawa Prefecture, the Kenchoji temple is one of Kamakura Town’s oldest and largest temples. It also holds significance as the very first Zen Buddhist monastery in the country. Explore the temple’s hiking trail and view amazing statues at the temple’s Zen garden or wander the inner halls and see incredible dragon paintings. Make sure to admire and photograph it’s most dominant feature, the imposing Zen Buddhist gate.
- Name: Kenchoji Temple
- Address: 8 Yamanouchi, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa
- Price: ¥300
- Access: 15 minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station
14. Navigate the Caves of Hasedera Temple
Get lost in the peaceful and calming grounds of Hasedera, a temple in Kamakura that features a 9 meter tall statue of Kannon – one of Japan’s largest and oldest wooden carvings. The complex is also home to a magnificent bamboo forest, a manicured garden and pond while a vast number of sculptures, including dozens of Jizō statues, can be found situated around the temple grounds. Make sure to check out the unusual rotating book rack and the cave filled with stunning rock carvings of the sea goddess, Benzaiten, and her children.
- Name: Hasedera Temple
- Address: 3 Chome-11-2 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0016
- Phone: +81 467-22-6300
- Price: ¥300
- Access: 5 minute walk from Hase Station
- Opening hour: 8:00 – 16:30
- Website: http://www.hasedera.jp/en/about/
15. Climb to Owakudani
Venture out to the site of Mt. Hakone’s most recent major eruption and explore the crater, which is still very much alive with numerous sulphur vents and natural hot springs. One of the key experiences here is to sample eggs that locals cook in the hot springs of Owakudani. The eggs, which turn black when cooked, are said to extend the life of the eater by seven years. Of course, if that culinary adventure isn’t quite for you, the hike alone is a fantastic experience that shouldn’t be missed.
- Name: Owakudani
- Address: Sengokuhara, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture 250-0631
- Phone: +81 460-85-7111
- Price: Free admission
- Access: 10 minute walk from Owakudani Station
- Opening hour: 8:30 – 17:00
Whether you got weeks or just a few days to explore Japan, Kanagawa is and always will be one of our top picks of places to see because of the perfect balance it has of old and new. Take in the best that Japan has to offer at this awesome prefecture and gear up for memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Have a good trip and travel!