The laid-back holiday feel of seaside Kamakura, just south of Tokyo, belies the power once wielded here: from 1192 to 1333 Kamakura was the seat of the shogun's government. Many of the area's great temples date from the Kamakura Shogunate, or bakufu, and there is no shortage of interesting historic sites. The hills around Kamakura provide peaceful hiking trails, often leading from one site to another.

The most famous of the Kamakura attractions is the giant bronze Buddha. Originally housed in a great temple, the statue has weathered the elements from a quiet clearing in the trees since a tsunami brought the temple down in the fifteenth century.