A good friend of ours was kind enough to invite us over the weekend with him and his family in their humble home in the city of Kamakura. Now, this is my first time to visit the place so that means I have little to no idea on what to expect, though I do know that Kamakura is one of the famous tourist spot outside of Tokyo. We drove an hour and a half by car and what happened next was something I haven’t really imagined (or maybe just because I didn’t really do any advance research. lol) but little did I know from then on, Kamakura would be one of the best city I would love to come back over and over again, here’s why:
1. They have the coolest train.
And when I say cool, that means the railway is technically positioned on the top of the train instead on its base. They call it a Mono Rail. Just like any other railway system, it has a station which is normally a couple of floors higher and train tracks over passing the road. But just a simple piece of precaution, if you are like me who’s born with a motion sickness (which I think is a curse) then you better prepare yourself for a rough ride. Apparently, it is known that these kind of hanging trains cause you a terrible motion sickness especially for those who are prone to it and for those first timers as well. I am super glad I didn’t eat anything before hopping in or else, I’ll be puking (gross). But don’t let that stop you from enjoying the ride, because believe me I genuinely did!
2. It is the home of Hanamichi Sakuragi (and Kaide Rukawa).
Do those names ring a bell to you? Well it should be! Slam Dunk everyone?! Little known fact, the plot of the most popular basket ball anime Slam Dunk is inspired from the city of Kamakura. If you do not know this anime, then I have no idea which cave you’ve been hiding all this time (just kidding). It’s a Japanese manga which talks about a high school student (Hanamichi Sakuragi) and his team (Shohoku) and their adventure in becoming the best basket ball team in Japan. From the city’s beach area, train station and even the school itself, all of which are inspiration in the series (although they changed the name from Kamakura high school to Shohoku high school).
The place is so popular that hundreds of tourists from all around the globe would come and see the iconic spots that were shown in the anime. If you’re lucky, you will see high school students wearing the same uniform and even see the exact basket ball gym. Being able to stand in the exact place was like a childhood dream come true.
( Slam Dunk’s famous Intro theme scene beside the railway in front of the coast)
3. Gives you a chance to experience the old Japan.
Kamakura is known for being one of the oldest city in Japan. The big statue of the Great Buddha or Kamakura Daibutsu is attest to that. It stood generation to generation and is a symbol of the country’s strong influence of Buddhism. It’s as high as 13.35 meters and has survived catastrophic events like typhoon. At the center of the city also lies great castles and temples which you can marveled on. The city has wonderfully kept the balance between the old and the new making it one of the best cities to stroll around too.
The world’s famous Kamakura Daibutsu of Kotokuin Temple….
Also old temples and other famous sights….
4. It’s a little Miami.
Now this is something I’m sure everyone will say yes onto. If you visit Kamakura, never miss the chance of traveling near the coast. Trust me, it would feel like you are in Miami (even they call it that way too). There is a great view of the beach, a whole list of water activities you can do (like surfing or fishing), and a long line of sea food restaurants to choose from. Best part, you can cross to a small island through a bridge long enough to enjoy cycling or even just to take time for some walk. Cross island cycling before sunrise was perhaps the best thing we did during our vacation. So, why not try it for yourself the next time you visit.
5. It’s a home away from home.
Kamakura wouldn’t be extra special without our good friend and his family who invited us over the weekend. They gave us such a warm welcome that it feels like it’s a home away from home. It truly pays to know a local around since you’ll feel a local yourself. Definitely something I would be spending more weekend too!