Seaside, shrines and stretchy pants in cosmopolitan Kanagawa
Kanagawa offers much more than just a convenient location.
Kanagawa is a prefecture located just underneath Tokyo that has somehow managed to avoid being swallowed up by the capital’s sprawling urbanization, establishing itself as a leading economic center and cosmopolitan cultural hub in its own right.
Pretty much all of Kanagawa’s attractions are located within an easy train ride of central Tokyo.
The prefectural capital city of Yokohama is less than 30 minutes from Shibuya station and shows a different side of Kanto’s urban landscape. It’s a city of diverse districts; the futuristic seafront of Minato Mirai 21 is full of international shops and restaurants while further along at Motomachi-Chukagai is Japan’s largest chinatown. You’ll need to don your stretchy pants for a visit to the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, a food theme park of nine restaurants selling ramen from different regions of Japan. If you’ve not had your fill of noodles yet then there’s also the Yokohama Cup Noodles museum.
Kamakura is often referred to as the ‘Kyoto of East Japan’ with an array of shrines and temples throughout the small city, including Kotokuin temple where an enormous bronze statue of Buddah sits serenely in the open air. Access the biggest temples via Hase station and stroll around the streets lined with traditional shops selling hato-sabure, a special dove-shaped biscuit unique to the Kamakura region. Hop on the historic Enoden train to Enoshima Island for beaches, surfing and local shirasudon, tiny white fish harvested along the coastline served with just about anything (including ice cream).
If you head west, stopping by Odawara to see the famous castle, you’ll enter the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and arrive at Hakone, one of Kanto’s most popular hot spring resort towns. Gorgeous views of Mount Fuji are hard to miss, but you might be fighting for a photo opportunity among the crowds of weekend-trippers from Tokyo. It’s best to stay during the week when you’ll have the postcard-perfect scenery all to yourself.