For those who live in Tokyo, as summer arrives, almost everyone makes plans to visit the beaches in the neighboring area of Kamakura. A seaside city close to Tokyo, Kamakura is a very popular spot for Tokyoites to visit due to the many attractions and food. Adjacent to it is also the beautiful island of Enoshima that offers views of Mt. Fuji on clear days.
However, this year due to the pandemic, Kamakura felt desolated with few people. In this feature, we show glimpses of this beautiful, usually busy, historic city during the pandemic.
Our starting point is Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, which is also known as “the samurai capital and the cultural heart of Kamakura”.
Before the pandemic, if you stood at the top of the stairs in front of the main hall, you could see throngs of travelers below. However, this summer, there hardly seemed to be anyone on the main road.
The lions guarding the entrance also wore a mask.
The shrine is still just as beautiful and since there were few people, it was a fantastic opportunity to take photographs without any interference.
After visiting Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, I walked along the main road in front of the shrine. Before the pandemic, this road was very busy as there are many handicraft and specialty stores featuring Kamakura products. The shops would usually be crowded but this year, they were almost empty.
Groovy Nuts is a dry fruit store that would always have a line of people waiting to enter.
For lunch, we tried the delicious shirasu-don (rice topped with whitebait). As Kamakura is close to the sea, the specialty here is whitebait (shirasu), which is always extremely fresh.
Next, we would like to introduce a newly opened hotel called Metropolitan Kamakura. You don’t expect a hotel to open its doors during a pandemic as it can’t be easy to gather customers. It is just a 2-minute walk from Kamakura Station, making it very convenient.
The most touching thing is the complementary products provided for guest use: Gentle steam eye masks, skin care products from Snow Essence, Sekkisei skin care set, body towel, bath salts to name a few. All of these are very practical body care products and provided for free.
We also found a uniquely-designed glass for brushing teeth in the bathroom.
At first glance, it looks like a usual cup but on careful observation, you can see that the rim is curved. This is not just for good looks and design. This curve creates a gap when you place the glass upside down resulting in quick drying that prevents bacteria growth due to lack of ventilation. Isn’t this interesting?
There is also a highly recommended Japanese restaurant near the hotel called Aratama (あら珠). It is usually difficult to make a reservation but we could easily get seats this time.
Beautiful, warm wooden interiors create a cozy atmosphere.
There are a variety of courses to choose from and each dish is made using exquisite and fresh ingredients. The prices are reasonable and we chose to try the grilled wagyu set meal.
You can cook it to suit your preferences. The aroma as it cooks is unbelievable.
We really hope the pandemic is over soon so that you can come and enjoy an amazing summer vacation in this seaside town of Kamakura.
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