Surrounded by mountains to the north, east,and west, Kamakura has 3 well-known hiking trails that can give you a taste of the nature that surrounds the city. The trails are only moderately difficult, with resting areas enroute. The longest trail is a little over 5 kilometers and you should allow 1-2 hours for a leisurely journey.
Be sure to finish your hike well before dusk, as some parts of the paths loose sunlight early, which can make it slow going. Also be aware of weather conditions- the trails can become fairly slippery for several days after a big rain, and being caught on the trails in a big rain would not be advisable.
If you are hiking on the weekends, you will pass many other hikers along the way who will greet you with a friendly hello, but on weekdays, the journey is much more tranquil. Enjoy the beautiful flowers, caves and vistas along the way!
Genjiyama Hiking Trail
Just behind Jochiji Temple in Kita Kamakura is the start of Genji Hiking Trail. Follow the road to the left of the temple past a few quaint Japanese houses and eventually you will become to the beginning of the trail. After about 20 minutes on the trail you will arrive at Kuzuharagaoka Shrine, next to Gejiyama Park. You can find refreshments here and the park is an ideal place for a picnic.
Continuing on, you will reach a 3-way juncture where you can choose to descend quickly to Zeniaribenten Shrine, or continue on to either Jufukuji to the south or the Daibutsu to the east. Be warned, very few people take the Jufukuji path, and the final section is a bit steep and narrow. Once you reach Jufukuji, go past the locked gate to enter the first set of graves beyond, and descend the staircases to the road below.
Tenen Hiking Trail
Taking this trail from east to west over the northern hills is recommended, as the west part of the trail makes for a rather steep descent. Make your way to Zuisenji Temple and just after passing by the main gate, watch for a sign to the right pointing to the trail. Just a few yards up the street you will find the entrance to the hiking trail, marked with a sign and map. As you climb the trail, you will see many small caves and hollows, adorned with buddhist artifacts.
Circling around the back of Zuisenji, the trail continues to climb to the east. After 30 minutes or so, the path widens and suddenly you find yourself at the top of Mt. Ohirayama, with a few tea houses offering food and drink, and a country club and golf course. This is the best area to take a break before rollercostering over the remaining hills that lead at length to the back of Kenchoji Temple.
As you make your final descent, you will get a lovely view of the roofs of Kenchoji, and after entering the back entrance arrive at the Hanzobo Shrine which offers a observation deck for a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji on the clear days. Here you also find numerous ‘karasutengu’ statues (winged goblins) which guard the premises. Continue down the stairs into Kenchoji proper and back to the streets of Kita Kamakura.
Gionyama Hiking Trail
Article and pictures coming soon!