One place I always love to go when I'm in Tokyo is Kamakura. Of course it's a tourist spot but you can still find some quiet, peaceful places there to recover from the loud and hectic life in the capital.
Kamakura is especially famous for the ~1200 year old giant Buddha statue “Daibutsu”, which you can even admire from the inside (as long as you're not claustrophobic, because the entrance is really narrow.). The statue even survived a tsunami in the 15th century, although the temple around it was destroyed. Talking about temples: In Kamakura you can find the great five Zen temples, called “Kamakura Gozan”.
When I went to Kamakura for the first time with my friends, we took a walk along the beach to visit the Shinagawa Aquarium. If you're interested in the amazing underwater world, it's really worth to spend a few hours there! The only thing I didn't like was the fact that they were keeping dolphins in the aquarium and were even holding shows once a day.
When you want to have a nice picnic at the beach, be aware of the birds of prey always wheeling in the sky over the beach, waiting for careless tourists. My anpan was stolen out of my hand before I even realized those birds were around (and they smacked my friend's glasses off her nose with their giant wings when she tried to defend her snack!).
There are many other places you can explore and a lot to do in Kamakura! Next to the Kamakura Gozan, there are other beautiful temples you can visit, like the Sasuke Inari Shrine. Or you can take a look at the many museums; for example, the Museum of National Treasures. You could also check out the official Kamakura Tourist Website (www.city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp ) and plan your visit while a matsuri (festival) takes place.
Since my first trip to Kamakura, I always leave the train one station earlier at Kita-Kamakura. I got this tip from one of the staff at my hostel when I went there the first time and now it became kind of a tradition for me. In Kita-Kamakura (the official name is Yamanouchi), you can find one of the five Zen Temples – Engaku-ji. And what a beautiful temple it is! I highly recommend visiting it and arrange enough time to explore, since it's huge! In fact, it's not right to say it's only one temple because there are 18 in all, but they're all summed up under the name Engaku-ji. Even when there are many tourists and school classes around, it's so spacious out there that you can wander around in peace. If you wanna climb up all the way to the great bell of the temple, you'll need some stamina. But the view is wonderful and a great reward. The Engaku-ji is truly one of my favorite temples I ever visited in Japan.
What are your favorite temples? What would you want to do if you spent a day at Kamakura? Let me know in the comments!