As you may already know, we are all about free of cheap travel while in Japan! There are tons of inexpensive and fun things to do with kids near Tokyo; and Kamakura (Great Buddha) Statue has been one of my favorite family day trips while living here.
Technically this is a buddhist temple called Kotoko-in and it is located in the city of Kamakura, but many people will just say “have you seen the great Buddha Kamakura?” or “Kamakura Daibutsu /鎌倉大仏” in Japanese. This is the place they are referring to! The statue has actually been rebuilt a few times as it has previously been damaged by weather and wash away to sea. It is really amazing. Over 43 feet tall, bronze, and surrounded by really amazing temple grounds.
Even if you are traveling with children who aren’t thrilled with checking out shrines, this one can be made into an enjoyable trip as visiting the beach is just a short trek away from the main entrance.
I wanted to share some information about how easy this trip really is so that other families will feel comfortable getting out of Tokyo and day tripping it … in an inexpensive way of course!
There are 65 temples and around 19 shrines in the area. Many people actually hike through all of the shrines and temples and do not go just to visit the great Buddha only. Be prepared for large crowds and many bikers and hikers.
There are also tons of shops, restaurants, and even some street food to enjoy along the way. We drove through the main shopping and tourist street but we did not visit this area. We went straight to the main area that hosts the big Buddha statue and parked as close to this as possible.
When you enter the main area of the Kamakura statue there is a beautiful garden atmosphere and concrete walkways. It is near the ocean so expect lots of wind. There are also lots of gravel areas if you leave the main path. It is crowded most of the time and we went in the late afternoon so we only had about an hour to stay. I would also recommend visiting this in spring or fall as this is much more enjoyable when it is not humid and hot. I think this is why our children really enjoyed this outing and lasted without complaining!
You can enter the shrine area for 200 yen (that is around $2 usd) and you can actually enter the Buddha itself for 20 yen more. You must pay and buy a ticket for this part and the line can get rather long but it moves very quickly. You can not do anything other than just look and walk up the buddha. So even if the line is long it is worth waiting as it will move rather fast. In our opinion it was worth doing this and our children really enjoyed it. Even our one year old at the time had no problems being carried through. You can not take a stroller through the Buddha. The path and stairs are cramped and narrow. A baby carrier would work great though. I did not use a carrier at all and it moved so quickly that it worked out fine and was not tiring.
We also paid around 1000 to park at a lot right down the street from the buddha. We had to tell the parking attendants how long we planned to stay in order to figure out the pricing. If you are staying for the day you would want to park farther away or just take a train to avoid this.
Kamakura is located in Kanagawa Prefecture which does not take too long to reach by car or train.
(We drove from the west side of Tokyo and it took about 1 1/2 hours. I do not think that we did this trip toll free.. although that is an easy option. Just set your GPS to the toll free option and you can get there for free! )
4 Chome-2-28 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0016
Hase Station – Enoden railway
The Buddha is about 7 minutes walking from the station exit.
- This attraction is open even day of the year.
- you can access the great Buddha from 8-5 (5:30 in the summer months)
Stroller / Wheelchair access:
I suggest baby carriers rather than strollers but if you have a toddler a stroller can be done. I used an umbrella stroller. We had to cross multiple streets and navigate high curbs but it is possible. At the great Buddha itself there is a lot of gravel with a concrete path in the middle. I parked the stroller to the side and left it while we explored. There were large crowds so it would not have been enjoyable to do this with a small baby in a large stroller if you had no baby carrier available.
Wheel chairs can be done on the path as it is level. However some road crossing along the way to the Buddha would be difficult as there were large curbs. If you have a couple of handy friends that can help out this wouldn’t be a problem.
You can not bring a wheelchair or stroller in the great buddha. It is narrow and has stairs. Use a baby carrier or prepare to carry small toddlers. Not for the claustrophobic either!
Infant Feeding / Toddler Melt Down Areas:
Overall for a crowd of people it is pretty quiet. There are many areas that you can sit down and be out of the way if you should need to feed an infant. If you have a toddler melt down situation you should have plenty of space to sit down for an out of the way snack. As eating and drinking at the temple would be frowned upon there are plenty of areas near that you could take a walk and eat snacks away from the crowd. There is also the option of driving/ walking near the coastal road and stopping in the parking lots or entering the walk ways to the beach areas.
We saw ice cream shops, snacks to buy, and even places to rent wind surfing equipment. Our kids had a great time watching the wind surfers just down the road from the great Buddha. This took there mind of of the long day and allowed them some time to regroup after walking through the tourist attractions.
Bring sunglasses or hats for kiddos. It is on the coast and pretty windy here. We had some difficulties with sand blowing in our eyes so it would have been much better for our toddler to have had her sunglasses with her… even on a cloudy day!
official Website in English:
Also,If you need a carrier I love the Japanese Combi brand. It is pricey but oh so worth it. especially because it has clips so you can easily take it off and on while switching positions on the trains and subways.
(I am not a paid for this suggestion by combi. I just simply see this as a good product that I would suggest if you are coming to Japan and do not have a carrier. I earn a small commission through the amazon affiliate link. and I mean SMALL! The earnings from affiliate links are put back into paying for the cost to run this site so that I can continue to share our tips on Japan with everyone!)