Photo:Toshihiro Oimatsu on Flickr

A 3-Day Tour of Kanagawa

You have to go to Tokyo. But while you’re up that way it would be rude to ignore Kanagawa, the prefecture that sits underneath Tokyo and borders Shizuoka. Its balance of futuristic metropolises, traditional towns and natural landscape makes it perfect for a few days at leisure.

Day 1

One stop short of Tokyo on the Shinkansen, Yokohama is a city on the sea with the associated cosmopolitan vibes. Dodge the dancing dragons and barge your way through the ever-busy Chinatown stopping to taste the delights on offer—dumplings, roasted chestnuts, sesame balls, tofu ice cream and plenty of buffet restaurants representing all corners of China. The Chinese community in Yokohama has been present since the 1850s. The lavishly decorated gates and temples will catch the attention of your camera lens.


Photo: Aapo Haapanen on Flickr

At one end of Chinatown you can head out on to the waterfront and Yamashita Park. I saw kite flyers, romantic couples, crazy kids and street-performers, and I was treated to a samurai battle by some Hollywood extras. Despite being full of people there is an air of tranquillity. Perhaps the sounds of the sea help. An old anchored ship gives it the world-port feel and the marine tower, similar to Kobe’s, adds even more to that.

A kilometre later you’ll hit Osanbashi Pier — Yokohama’s international ferry terminal which is a contemporary boardwalk that stretches out into the sea. Here you can cop a stunning view back towards the skyscrapers. It’s famous for a cult tannoy announcer. You have to be there.

Further still and you’ll hit Minato Mirai and the old red brick warehouses. Cross the waterfront and head to Cosmo World, a theme park with a huge ferris wheel. For an even higher viewpoint head for Landmark Tower to see the lights down below, the bridges and even Tokyo in the distance. Fuji can be spotted during a daytime ascent.


Photo: skyseeker on Flickr

Other attractions include the cup noodle museum, boat tours, gardens and museums including ones dedicated to Anpanman and international migration.

Day 2



Photo: Yoshikazu TAKADA on Flickr

Enoshima is a small island in the Shonan area of Kanagawa. To get there head for Fujisawa and then take the old electric railway known as the Enoden down to the coast. It’s easy to kill the whole day on what might seem like a tiny island, so bring your walking legs. It’s accessible only by foo. From the coast to the island it’s fun to walk barefoot across the natural land bridge when the tide allows. It was once painted by Hokusai and is included in his views of Fuji series. The island itself is famous for Shirasu, a small whitebait style fish. There is a lighthouse and a botanical garden originally started by a British merchant sits on top of the island. The main walk up to the top of Enoshima is busy. It’s a small high street full of tourists and souvenir stores. I recommend taking the roads off to the side which snake up the island. Here I found some of the locals selling freshly caught seafood from their houses. Sit on some camp chairs and eat sushi from a polystyrene lid. You won’t find that tip in the tour guides. Climb over to the back of the island and you will pass caves and shrines, cafes and restaurants. The shrines on the island are dedicated to Benten—the goddess of music and entertainment. My favourite part of the island? The jagged cliffs which plummet down to and stop at the waterline allowing you to walk out at sea level.


Photo: Yoshikazu TAKADA on Flickr

Day 3

Kamakura. Jump off the train and rent a bike nearby. Kamakura is a short train ride from Fujisawa and easily accessible from Yokohama and Tokyo. Kamakura is hilly, but you can roll down to the coast stopping at peaceful shrines, temples and gardens on the way. The garden Meigetsu-in has a wonderful decking to relax on. Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu is the biggest and most important Shinto shrine in the city. Along the road and up a hill you can find Hokokuji temple where you can walk through thick bamboo and reflect. Roll back down and further on to the main high street, stopping for souvenirs, and on to the seaside park for a quick break. Ride west along the coast and you will be struck by the sight of a Giant Buddha. The daibutsu is one of the symbols of Kamakura. The nearby Hasedera temple has a giant golden Kannon and a wonderful view across the coast.


Photo: Yoshikazu TAKADA on Flickr

Also in Kanagawa

The famous industrial town of Kawasaki; Hakone which is famous for its hot springs and mountain lakes, a big summer hotspot for Japanese holidaymakers; Odawara castle town; and there are plenty of small towns for surfing.


Photo: Tsuyoshi Uda on Flickr

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