Kamakura is a charming seaside little town about an hour from Tokyo, famous for its beach and temples. It was the de facto capital of Japan during the Kamakura Period from 1185 to 1333, during which time Japan was ruled by the Kamakura Shoganate and the famous samurai class emerged. Kamakura is a popular day or overnight trip from Tokyo.
|The 750-year-old Daibutsu (big Buddha) is Kamakura's icon.|
The temples are beautiful, and there are some nice walks around the place.
|The Daibutsu Hiking Path is a beautiful escape from the city. It takes about an hour from Jochi-ji Temple to the Daibutsu.|
It's also possible to cycle to Kamakura from Tokyo (or Yokohama) but there isn't a good route, so expect lots of traffic.
For a few weeks during the summer vacation period the beaches really comes alive, with locker, changing and shower facilities being erected on the sand, and crowds flocking to swim, sunbathe and just enjoy the beach environment.
|beach facilities being constructed in late June|
Yuigahama is the easiest beach to reach, being a short ride on the tram (Enoden / electric railway) from Kamakura station. The beach also becomes a real party-zone, with beach-side bars and dance floors if that's your thing. All constructions disappear promptly after the vacation period, at which time the beach returns to its former pristine state. Beware of jellyfish in the water during the really warm months - I learned the hard way.
|Yuigahama Beach at Kamakura comes alive during the hot summer months.|
Right across from Yuigahama Beach itself, is the veg-friendly Organic and Hemp Style Cafe and Bar.
|The Organic & Hemp Style Cafe, Yuigahama Beach, Kamakura|
|the vegetarian dinner set at The Hemp Style Cafe, Kamakura|
|fried tempura and the best pickles I've ever eaten|
Nearby in Hase are the expensive but very good Sairam,which offer deliicous, vegan meals with a beautiful waterfront view.
Zushi is like a smaller, quieter Kamakura, also with a beach and a few temples. And I was pleased to learn from a colleague recently that, like Kamakura, Zushi has a (mostly) vegan cafe. Beach Muffin serves a delicious range of baking, and vegan meals. The bakery is open from 9:30 to 7:00, and the cafe from 11AM (also to 7PM).
|Beach Muffin, a mostly-vegan bakery and cafe, Kamakura|
Unfortunately I arrived after the kitchen had closed (I guess about an hour before closing time), so only the bakery was open, but the cafe menu includes burgers and burritos.
|herb tea and dessert from Beach Muffin|
One thing that impresses me about Beach Muffin is how well they promote veganism to their non-vegan clientele. However, beware that a few of the baked goods contain egg and dairy, and they are labelled in Japanese only, so it's important to specify that you are vegan when you order.
It's possible to take a bus from Yuigahama to Zushi, but as of June 2013, Google Maps isn't working properly for buses. Alternatively it will take about half an hour to reach Beach Muffin from Yuigahama (changing trains at Kamakura). It would also be a very pleasant 5 kilometre bike ride (or walk) along the beach.