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Kamakura, Kamakura

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Japan's insider take:

A former capital of Japan (1192–1333), Kamakura boasts 117 temples and 44 shrines as well as wooded hills, beaches, and the added advantage of being only an hour by train from Tokyo. Get out one stop before Kamakura at Kita (North) Kamakura, where there is a fine collection of leafy Zen temples, including Kencho-ji, the oldest Zen temple in Japan. The most popular shrine in Kamakura is Tsurugaoka Hachiman, a ten-minute walk from Kamakura Station. The 37-foot-tall Daibutsu or Great Buddha dates back to 1252 and is an amazing thing to behold. If you have any energy after sightseeing, follow the scenic Ten'en hillside walk, which takes a couple of hours and goes from Zuisen-ji in the east to Kencho-ji in the northwest.

For detailed maps and information, call the Tourist Information Center near Kamakura Station at 81-4-67223350.

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