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Kamakura Trail

The ancient city from a samurai’s-eye view


Surrounded by mountains and sea, Kamakura offers a wealth of rambles that are outside the typical temple tours, and rarely crowded with tourists. To feel like a medieval samurai—without the encumbering clothing­—try the Daibutsu Kuzuharagaoka hiking course. The road was reportedly used by samurai 650 years ago, and it looks like it hasn’t changed much since then. This relatively easy trek is perfect for those who would like to check out Kamakura from a different angle.

The walk takes about an hour and a half and goes past such locations as the Daibutsu (Giant Buddha), and Jochi-ji and Tokei-ji temples. Genjiyama Park is the halfway point, and good for a break. Compared with other hiking routes, this one is well maintained, and its steep slopes are equipped with steps. Nevertheless, you should avoid sandals and high heels if you want your feet to go the distance.

Take a bus from the No. 1 terminal in front of Kamakura station east exit (map 1). After around ten minutes, traffic allowing, get off at Daibutsu-mae (map 2). Keep walking in the same direction towards the road tunnel in front, and on the right side (you’ll have to cross), you will spot some steep steps. This is the starting point. But before you begin, you might want to pop into Daibutsu. The famous Giant Buddha is definitely worth a peek.

First off, you’ll see an old building next to the steps before the hike begins. It used to be a Kamakura city gymnasium, where Kendo and Aikido were practiced. Built in 1935, it currently stands unused owing to earthquake risk.

The course travels ridges with views of the shore. You can see inlets and the shore sometimes through the groves of trees. These stunning views will clear your mind, and the fresh air will restore your lungs. Keep an eye out for flowers blooming in season. A recent walk was lined with a beautiful hedge of camellia and daffodils.

You won’t meet many other folk along the way, but you should hear plenty of other life. Taiwanese squirrels, black kites and cats are numerous. It’s said that the squirrel population descended from locally kept pets that escaped.

After 30 minutes, you’ll hit Genjiyama Park (map 3). There are some picnic tables and benches scattered around the park, along with restrooms and the obligatory vending machines. If you go down a little bit in the direction of Kewaizaka, you'll see a statue of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the samurai founder of the Kamakura Shogunate (1185). Quaff a cup of Joe next to Yoritomo and he might divulge some of the local samurai secrets.

Back on the main path, continue straight to Kuzuharagaoka shrine(map 4). Near the gate, you’ll see two big stones tied to each other with fancy red string. These represent the gods of matchmaking. If you throw coins into a box and pray, you're guaranteed to be hitched within the week.

Near the end of the course, old-style Japanese houses are scattered about. With nicely maintained bamboo fences, thatched roofs covered with moss and lichen, you'll probably be unable to avoid some photo snapping.

Finally, head down the slope towards Jochi-ji temple (map 5), and beyond to the main road. Turn left and walk straight for seven minutes. Along the way, drop by Tokei-ji temple (map 6) if you still have it in you. This road will take you to JR Kita-Kamakura station (map 7) which will take you home, or back into the ancient town.


Must-visits in Kamakura

Sunshoudo

Built in 1936, this antique shop is immediately recognizable as a place of cultural heritage—which is why it has been designated as one. The stunning pinewood hall is a good introduction to the artisanal work of this space, where you can obtain real handmade wooden articles, chiseled with the expertise collected from lifetimes of experience, and carefully lacquered with black and vermilion. Stop by for a wooden slice of local culture.
☛ 0467-22-0708

Hakkodo

The artisans of Hakkodo—the oldest store in Kamakura—are descendants of sculptors of Buddhist images, and use the technique of Kamakura-bori to produce quality crafts. Typically, a pattern is chiseled into katsura wood, then lacquered, in a month-long process. Hakkodo’s skills have been passed through through generations, but they’re not afraid of adding modern methods to make beautiful objects of art.
☛ 467-22-2429
☛ www.kamakurabori.org

Kamakura Mizue

Stop in at Kamakura Mizue to have personalized wooden seals or chopsticks made for a truly Japanese souvenir of Kamakura or a thoughtful gift for someone special. Order any combination of letters, numbers, or images you like, and your personalized design will be made in three minutes while you wait. The English-speaking staff will help you get the best from this unique local shop.
☛ 0467-25-3812
☛ Email: kamakuramizue@live.jp

Kaburaki Kiyokata Memorial Art Museum

This peaceful trove of Japanese art is based in the home of modern master Kiyokata Kaburaki, famous for his moving portraits of touching subjects that captured an era. Born in 1878 in Tokyo, Kaburaki lived and worked at here from 1954 until his death in 1972 at age 93. The museum (entry from ¥100 for children, and from ¥200 for adults) can be found at 1-5-25 Yukinoshita.
☛ 0467-23-6405
☛ www.kamakura-arts.or.jp/kaburaki

Kamakura city Kawakita film museum

This heaven for cinephiles was built in 2010 as the legacy of the Kawakita couple, known by enthusiasts as legends in Japanese movie history. The museum (entry from ¥200) serves the film and art community by organizing special exhibitions,Japanese and international film screenings (from ¥800), workshops, and by offering a library filled with film books and magazines.
☛ 0467-23-2500
☛ www.kamakura-kawakita.org

Map of must-visit shops and sights in Kamakura


☛ Click here for a larger PDF version of the map


Yokohama spots

Akai Medical Clinic

For all your cosmetic surgery needs in the bayside city of Yokohama, Akai Medical Clinic has a fine outpost there to add to their trendy Omotesando location. The Yokohama clinic not only boasts the same range of up-to-the-minute equipment as the Tokyo one, but it also offers specialized treatment in the areas of acne, acne scars, and sun damage.
Passengers on the road to beauty should feel comfortable with the man in the driving seat, Dr. Hidemi Akai, who earned his stripes in Harvard Medical School and at Massachusetts General Hospital. While he has been a leader in the Tokyo and Yokohama industry for some years now, he is not content to rest on his laurels; constantly travelling around the world to try the latest innovations.

The new, state-of-the-art contraption AccuSculpt, for example, can help you secure a trim, sexy body, without putting in hours at the gym. The new kind of laser-assisted lypolysis it effects, known as Laser-Lipo, removes excess fat deposits in typical areas such as chest, jowls and hips. This innovation uses a specific wavelength to eliminate fat with a minimum of collateral tissue damage. Stop in at AMC to be one of the first in this country to try the AccuSculpt, already a hit in the US market.

Another piece of high-grade equipment at the Yokohama clinic is the Solari, a device for enhancing the skin, removing pores and blemishes, lines, wrinkles and anything in the way to a great complexion. It uses intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment, which produces high-intensity light during a short period of time. More than any other IPL machine on the market, the Solari is renowned for targeting tissue with precision and no side effects, producing effective energy good for you—and your tissue.

Men worried about thinning pates can have recourse to AMC’s Hair Stimulating Complex (HSC) service. Based on newborn cells operating in embryonic conditions, this groundbreaking solution is offered alongside topical use of lotions, intra-oral treatment, injections and—for complete baldness—a transplant.

Botox can be had for ¥20,000 per area, while hyarulonic acid treatment costs ¥40,000 for laugh lines, ¥30,000 for lip augmentation and ¥52,500 for tear troughs. Remove sun-damaged skin, acne scars and blotches with a course of full-facial chemical peeling and micro-dermabrasion therapy, currently just ¥15,750 for one full-facial session including vitamin treatment, and package prices for three or six sessions, at ¥42,000 or ¥84,000.

Other services on offer, as the summer fast approaches, include removal of unwanted hair for those times on the beach or in the pool. Back laser hair removal costs around ¥40,000-¥90,000 per session (depending on the area), with approximately five to seven sessions needed. Liposuction is offered at ¥250,000 per area, for a one-off procedure.

For treatment such as removal of bags under the eyes or tear troughs, take the course of non-surgical growth factor injections. Taken from your blood, the growth factor comes from your own platelets and tells the skin to repair itself. This is definitely the biggest craze in cosmetic surgery of recent years, as it uses the body’s own natural elements to reverse the processes of aging.

If you want to feel as powerful and strong as a US President, take the same thing they do—growth hormone treatment. This course of self-applied injections costs about ¥200,000-¥500,000 per month, and is touted to return the energy and enthusiasm you might have felt lacking.

Get in touch to book a consultation with AMC’s friendly, English-speaking staff. Let AMC help you feel and look good—both in Tokyo and Yokohama.

☛ Omotesando: 3F KNK Bldg, 3-5-17 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5771-4114. Email: amc@akaiclinic.com. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.
☛ Yokohama: 4F Katsukou Bldg, 1-2-8 Horai-cho, Naka-ku. Tel: 045-252-9455. Email: amc-skincare@akaiclinic.com. Open Tue-Fri 11am-7pm, Sat 11am-5pm, closed Sun-Mon. Nearest stn: Kannai.
☛ www.akaiclinic.com/en

Afrodita Hair Salon

“It’s really interesting to meet so many kinds of people with different hair, different tastes and different lifestyles,” says Yoshiko Morimoto, the director of Afrodita hair salon in Yokohama.

Having trained at Vidal Sassoon in London, and with stints working at salons in New York and Los Angeles—where clientele included Hollywood entertainers and models—she opened Afrodita in 2001. Her idea was to offer the same Beverly Hills style in English to foreigners in Japan, but without the huge fees charged in the most exclusive parts of Tokyo.

Her reputation for great style and effortless communication gets around—as evidenced by the multitude of positive comments on her website. While Afrodita is located in Yokohama (close to Yokohama station), many of her clients make the trip from Saitama, Chiba, Yokosuka and the Shonan areas to get styled with her English-speaking staff.
“It can be hard to get the style you want when communication is difficult, and many foreigners have a lot of trouble at hair salons in Japan where staff don’t usually speak much English.” Obtaining that style also means she carries exclusive Western hair care products like Redken so foreign customers can use products more suited to their hair type.

“Producing great results isn’t just about my skill level or what I think looks good,” she says. “It’s about finding out what the client is really looking for, and creating a style they feel confident with, that suits their personality and lifestyle.” Morimoto’s specialty? Color. Her hair colors are not only stunning and sexy, but also perfectly suited to complement your skin type.

“It’s all about communication,” Morimoto says. “People have different types of hair, facial features, coloring, lifestyles, and needs; a really good style takes all those things into consideration.”

☛ 1F, 2-108-1 Sengencho, Nishi-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-311-0139. Open Wed-Mon 10am-7pm, closed Tue. www.yokohamahairsalon.com

Alpha Language Institute

You couldn’t find a wider and more diverse group of students than those busy studying Japanese at Alpha Language Institute. This language school obviously has plenty to attract everybody—from business people to parents, and university students to language enthusiasts. The international vibe is pulsating with the influence of people from 23 countries studying at Alpha’s headquarters in Tokyo. But now you can experience the same dynamic learning environment, since January this year, in the fresh and breezy city of Yokohama—just five minutes’ walk from the main station.

There are various types of courses to suit your needs. Students are free to build a lesson plan that is just right for their level, and their objectives. The main courses are Group Intensive and One-on-One. Group Intensive is available for beginners to advanced students, and with preparation for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), too. One-on-One is custom-made. You will be able to learn useful conversation for real-life situations in Japan, including business meetings and others.

Japanese is famous as a language that is difficult to master. But you can certainly make a good start by choosing the right institute with the right style and educational quality. But don’t take Alpha’s word for it—get in touch by phone or email, and head on down for a free trial lesson.

☛ 4F Yasda-1 Bldg., 2-21-8 Tsuruyacho, Yokohama. Tel: 045-316-8282. Email: yokohama@alpha.ac.jp
☛ 22F Toranomon Kotohira Tower, 1-2-8 Toranomon, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3504-8080. Email: alpha@alpha.ac.jp
 www.alpha.ac.jp/english

Shyo Shyo An

Once upon a time, kimono (literally “things to wear”) were everyday attire in Japan. Nowadays, these elegant T-shaped robes, tied at the back with an obi sash, are reserved only for special occasions. Since kimono are not tailored to fit, the wearer needs a certain skill to put them on properly—easy enough to learn when they were the only thing in your wardrobe, but not so simple in 21st-century Japan.

The answer is lessons in kitsuke (kimono dressing) from a certified expert. Shyo Shyo An offers instruction in English, with a painless, natural approach that makes it easy to dress up and look stunning. A one-off yukata (light cotton robe) lesson lays down the essentials, while basic komon and taiko dressing takes just three lessons to learn. Longer courses that lead to certification are also available, and at Shyo Shyo An, you’ll have the opportunity to make friends with other people who share your interest in these unique and beautiful garments. With spring in full sway, it’s time to take that special kimono or yukata out of the closet—and wear it right. It will be just as pretty as it looked when you bought it, and imagine the heads you’ll turn and conversations you’ll start when you wear it to the temple market or a dinner party.

☛ 4-3 Miyazaki-cho, Nishi-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 090-1764-9959. Email: shyoshyoan.info@gmail.com. http://sites.google.com/site/shyoshyoan

Yokohama Bayside Line

Time to claim the mantle of “King of the Road” in Japan’s beautiful bayside city. For the ultimate road’s-eye view of Yokohama, there can only be the Yokohama Bayside Line. This comfortable red bus with large windows tours around the city on three set routes: the One-Day Course, Morning Course, and Afternoon Course. Each takes you through the key sights, with several stops along the way to get out, breathe the air, and experience these sights for yourself. Depending on which course you pick, your tour might include Sankeien Garden, the Red Brick Warehouse, the Yokohama Foreigners’ Cemetery, shopping tours, Chinatown or the Hotel New Grand, whose past patrons include General MacArthur and Charlie Chaplin. These are just a few of the attractions in Japan’s second largest city.

With onboard videos illustrating key tourist spots in English, Chinese and Korean, there is no doubt that you will be able to get the most out of the experience. The ticket price includes all entrance fees, and you can hop on the Yokohama Bayside Line at major hotels in the Yamashita and Minato Mirai areas—One-Day Course and Afternoon Course have the option of a cruise on Yokohama Bay, too. Check out the options on the Bayside Line’s website, and let them do the rest.

☛ Yokohama stn east exit information center (Sogo B1F). Tel: 045-465-2077. Open Mon-Sat 8am-7pm, Sun & hols 8am-6pm. Tickets ¥1,700-6,500 (adults), ¥800-4,050 (children). Reserve online at http://meturl.com/yokbayside

Yokohama Daisekai

At the center of Yokohama’s Chinatown, in front of the Tencho-mon gate, stands the eight-story entertainment unit Yokohama Daisekai. Based on Shanghai Daska, it was created as part of the 30th anniversary of friendship between the two cities, recreating the entertainment zone of China’s pulsating metropolis in the bayside city of Yokohama.

Filled with souvenirs from Chinatown and the wider city of Yokohama, Daska Market hosts a bunch of thrilling goodies on the first and second floors, including a Hello Kitty store. On the third floor is a food court at which to feast on an array of delicious Chinese dishes, while a section of beauty and health services is found on the fourth. To enter a mysterious world of mirrors, roll up for the Trick Art Museum, which costs ¥1,000 for adults, ¥800 for high-school or junior-high students, ¥500 for children, and is free for under-threes. What’s more, flash your well-thumbed copy of Metropolis magazine at the entrance and nab yourself a 10% discount (per group only). Please note that the discount is not valid with other coupons or discount deals.

For families or groups of friends, as well as for tourists and travelers passing through, Yokohama Daisekai is a taste of the real China in the middle of Chinatown, and its eight fun-packed floors have something for everyone to get excited about.

☛ 97 Yamashitacho, Naka-ku, Yokohama. Tel : 045-681-5588. Email: info@daska.jp. Open daily 10am-10pm (shop times vary). Nearest stn: Motomachi-Chukagai. http://www.daska.jp/english/

Yokohama Doll Museum

Get your fill of doll-related activity at the Yokohama Doll Museum. From Saturday, June 9 to Monday, July 16 (a national holiday), there will be an event entitled “Dolls of Puppet Plays,” in coordination with June’s Fairy Tale Puppet Play Festival. It will be a feast of moving dolls in action, with puppets—variously operated by string, one hand, wheel or stick—wind-up dolls, and other examples from the museum’s massive collection of figures from around the world. You will also have a chance to see a traditional Japanese ballad-drama with puppets, accompanied by a live shamisen and song performance. Look out also for the Japanese wind-up doll developed at the end of the Edo period, based on the Western watch. It has a complex system of gears and springs, and a surprising range of functions. Another doll on display will be the Western-style wind-up doll. Based on a spring watch, these dolls developed as new techniques were invented through the late eighteenth to the start of the nineteenth centuries. This was characteristic of a period when watchmakers were keen to show off their skills to the upper classes so they could sell their wares.

These are just a selection of the fascinating range of dolls on display at the Yokohama Doll Museum. Take this opportunity to see the rest.

☛ 18 Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-671-9361. Museum open daily 9:30am-5pm (last admission 4:30pm). Closed Mon except hols. Café open Tue-Sun 11am-7pm, closed Mon. Museum shop open Tue-Sun 10am-6pm, closed Mon. Entry: ¥300 (adults), ¥150 (children), ¥200/¥100 (groups). Nearest stn: Motomachi-Chukagai. www.yokohama-doll-museum.com

Yokohama International Education Academy

The Yokohama International Education Academy makes the most of its location in the thriving area of Minato Mirai. Close to such attractions as the Yokohama Museum of Art, Landmark Tower and National Convention Hall, and with the Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center and several libraries and music halls in the vicinity, the academy provides a fantastic environment for study. And thanks to all its dormitories being located within walking distance of the campus, there’s an appealing community vibe.

Courses at Yokohama International Education Academy do more than simply teach the language: one of the academy’s main objectives is also to turn out well-rounded students. As such, it provides counseling, guidance and general subjects such as math, and keeps students primed with regular short essays and interview training.

EJU and JLPT exams are compulsory at the academy, and the school’s high pass rates speak for themselves about the quality of the education on offer. There’s plenty of incentive to get your head down—students who hit the highest marks get recommended to the best universities—but speech contests and sport events keep the competition friendly. And when you’re ready for a study break, Tokyo, Hakone, Kamakura and even Mt. Fuji are just a short train ride away. Get in touch to arrange a tour of the facilities.

☛ 43 Miyazaki-cho, Nishi-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-250-3656. Nearest stn: Sakuragicho or Minatomirai. http://yiea.com/english

Yokohama Museum of Art

Opened in 1989, the Yokohama Museum of Art is one of the largest art institutions in Japan. With its iconic architecture, featuring the expansive space of the Grand Gallery, the museum is made up of a total of seven gallery spaces, as well as an Art Information and Media Center that holds over 90,000 art-related books, ateliers hosting a wide range of workshops for children and adults, a shop, and a café.

Surrounded by the history and the new spirit of Japan’s second largest city, the museum focuses on collecting and showing modern and contemporary art created since the late 19th century, when the port of Yokohama opened, alongside many special exhibitions.

The museum has a large collection of art from the late 19th century through to the present day, including works by Dalí, Magritte, Cézanne, Picasso, as well as works by Yokohama-related artists since the Edo and Meiji eras. As Yokohama is one of the birthplaces of photography in Japan, the museum is also proud to have a significant photo collection. These works are shown in the exhibition “Yokohama Museum of Art Collection.” Please note that fees vary per exhibition, and that café and shop opening times vary slightly from the museum. The museum is closed for year end holidays and certain other days, so check their site for details.

☛ Minatomirai 3-4-1 Nishi-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-221-0300. Open Fri-Wed 10am-6pm, closed Thu except hols. Fees vary per exhibition. Nearest stn: Minatomirai. www.yaf.or.jp/yma