Kamakura, a city listed in 1001 Escapes You Must Experience Before You Die by Helen Arnold, is close to the lively capital city Tokyo in distance but differs significantly in what it offers. Kamakura possesses a unique atmosphere where a trace of history mingles with modern everyday life. I visited Kamakura on a quiet evening. I was welcomed by the scent of freshly-made senbei, low buildings and relaxed streets instead of bright neon lights, skyscrapers and the mixture of noises of a typical big city in Japan. Dim lights guided paths to the Great Buddha (Daibutsu) surrounded by beautiful autumn leaves, and to the town's historical Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine where you could look out over the city below. The drizzle later in the evening deepened the silence in the city. Giggles of shrine maidens, the chanting of a Shinto priest and the relaxing rain sounds echoed in the silence and created a mystical atmosphere. As I walked around, my Japanese friend shared the historical myths and incidents that the shrine and Kamakura itself possessed. The unique experience of walking Kamakura on a rainy evening became one of my favorite memories of Japan. I was not surprised to discover that Kamakura was not only popular among foreigners desiring to experience Japanese history, but also for Japanese as an escape near one of the biggest cities in the world.
Due to my tight schedule that day, I did not have the opportunity to discover Kamakura and its region on the beloved historical train, the Enoshima Electric Railway, commonly known as Enoden. This unique railway has been a special part of the Shonan region, including Kamakura, for more than 100 years. It connects Kamakura with Enoshima, and in most places runs on one rail close to the houses on either side. It also runs along the beach near Shichirigahama. It has been long loved by locals and overseas and Japanese visitors of all ages for the extraordinary experience of engaging with these beautiful and historical surroundings and their unique stories. The mere thought of exploring this special region, on the Enoden, where its history is embedded, excites me for my next visit to Kamakura!