Ancient Kamakura

Photo by Els Slots.

Temples, Shrines and other structures of Ancient Kamakura is part of the Tentative list of Japan in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Kamakura was constructed by the samurai to be the seat of their political power. The samurai government controlled all of Japan from here for over 150 years, and Kamakura became the center of politics, economy and culture and is the only remaining place where one can find a grouping of cultural properties reminiscent of samurai culture nowadays.

Map of Ancient Kamakura

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

Community Reviews

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Zoë Sheng

Chinese-Canadian - 02-Feb-21 -

Ancient Kamakura (T) by Zoë Sheng

Kamakura is super popular no matter WHS or not. It doesn't really need the title to be a great visit. It was more or less rejected to be one anyway, but the Japanese state party decided to withdraw rather than get a rejection because they would otherwise be blocked from retrying. So instead Kamakura is now in limbo for many years, waiting to reshape it's niche as a world heritage site.

The main draw are Tsurugaoka Hachimangū and Kōtoku-in, with the The Great Buddha of Kamakura as depicted. I had already donated my front view to the website so I am using a close-up of it. One can even visit the inside as it is hollow. The temples along could easily be positioned as a world heritage site in today's criteria, with something like Quanzhou being in a similar position to have "influenced" or "be influenced by" something.

The main problem is that the political seat the samurai had in Kamakura is not possible to be seen anymore. It's a modern Japanese town, no skyscrapers, but many shops and retail avenues, roads everywhere. The title is actually misleading because the description talks about "cultural properties reminiscent of samurai culture" which doesn't fit in my opinion. Getting from temple to temple doesn't give you the feeling that the town belongs in-between them, at least not in the sense what the state party wishes you to believe. So I am agreeing with the soft rejection, or bad feedback, but believe that they should try to get an assessment done and re-submit it for the temples rather than the entire town, and even if it would be resulting in a "suggest not to inscribe" that gets easily overturned nowadays. 

Els Slots

The Netherlands - 08-Jun-12 -

Ancient Kamakura (T) by Els Slots

Kamakura is up for discussion at the 2013 WHC, and I wonder if they will make the cut. Especially since Hiraizumi had such a hard time getting in recently, a site that with 'Buddhist Pure Land' eventually found its OUV. Kamakura is a better known site than Hiraizumi, mostly because it is close enough to Tokyo for a day trip (trains take less than an hour) and also for the 'Kamakura period' (1185-1333) when it was the most important city in Japan.

The nomination is called "Kamakura, Home of the Samurai". Its originality lies in the creation of the samurai society, that was to rule Japan until the 19th century. The core zone includes shrines, temples, residences, passes and Wakaenoshima port.

I visited it for a full day, walking from temple to temple. This isn't nearly as pleasant as in Hiraizumi - Kamakura suffers from a lot of traffic congestion. The sights are scattered around town, some are kilometres away - which could lead to some integrity issues when the core zone of the site is looked at. Most of the time you have to walk by the side of the road, without a real pavement. Signage is also sparsely provided. Fortunately I had picked up a map in English at the tourist information, so I knew where I had to look. Beforehand I had written down the names of the most praised temples, which proved to be a good idea since the map features no less than 61 temples and shrines. Hasedera temple became my favourite.

Kamakura has been heavily influenced by China, and Buddhism gained great popularization here. It has some superficial similarities with the (Chinese) WHS of Emeishan and the Leshan Buddha, though that's much older and has a much larger Buddha statue. Kamakura's Great Buddha by the way was the only location that I visited which had a reference to a possible future WH status.

P.S.: this site has a good overview of the nominated area, I only found it later:


USA - 20-Jul-09 -

I really liked Kamakura. The sites are easy to find and the city puts up signs for those who donft understand Japanese. There are many buses for tourists to take and a visitorfs center right inside the train station in Kamakura. The sites start in Kitakamakura (North Kamakura) and are an easy but a bit long walk down to the Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura. Then it is quickest to take the bus to the far away temples in the east of town and also south in the town of Hase. Hase has the Great Buddha statue and Hasedera with its Horse Headed Kannon Statue. The statues are beautiful and the people friendly. My favorites were the 5 Great Zen Temples. It is also a joy to wander off the beaten path to the smaller temples that are often quieter than their grand neighbors. A great place to visit!

Full Name
Temples, Shrines and other structures of Ancient Kamakura
Urban landscape - Asian
1992 Added to Tentative List

The site has 22 locations

Ancient Kamakura: Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Jufuku-ji (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Kencho-ji (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Zuisen-ji (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Kamakura Daibutsu (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Kakuon-ji (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Ruins of Bupp?-ji (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Ruins of Y?fuku-ji (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Ruins of the Hokked? (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Ruins of the H?j? Tokiwa Residence (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Kamegayatsuzaka Pass (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Kehaizaka Pass (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Daibutsu Pass (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Gokuraku-ji (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Engaku-ji (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Egara Tenjin Shrine (T)
Ancient Kamakura: J?k?my?-ji (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Asaina Pass (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Ruins of T?sh?-ji (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Nagoshi Pass (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Sh?my?-ji (T)
Ancient Kamakura: Wakae Island (T)
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