Fujisawa's variety and proximity to Tokyo make it a great place to visit, either as a day trip or wider visit to the Kanto region.
The modern city on Sagami Bay has a relaxed coastal vibe, with plenty of al fresco dining, boutique shops and water activities on offer. But it’s also known for its historical attractions —including shrines, temples and gardens — and beautiful seascapes.
With so many options, here’s just a taste of what you can do in Fujisawa.
1. See the Great Buddha of Kamakura
At 13.4 meters (44 ft) high and weighing more than 120 tonnes, the seated bronze statue of Amida Buddha at Kotoku-in temple is one of the most famous icons of Japan. It dates from 1252 and is designated a National Treasure.
Choose to take in the enormity of the Great Buddha within the wide temple grounds or go inside it to gain insight into how it was constructed.
Near the statue are displays of giant zori (sandals made from rice straw). These gifts were made and presented to the temple by children who wanted the Buddha to be able to travel anywhere in Japan.
2. Shop and savour local flavours
The area around the Great Buddha, Hase, is a mecca for shoppers and foodies. It has an expansive selection of boutiques and small shops, each teeming with originality. You can find everything from swimwear and water sports gear to clothing, accessories, cosmetics and household items.
Interspersed among the stores are some of the best eateries of the area. Choose from artisan bakeries, specialty coffee shops and cosy cafes, many of which offer outside dining where you can enjoy the chilled out atmosphere and sea air.
3. Explore Hase-dera
If you’re seeking greenery and tranquillity, look no further than Hase-dera, a temple complex located on the mountain Kannon-zan. The sprawling haven in Hase could take a whole day to explore.
In addition to the religious sites, there are gardens featuring plants and shrubs that flower year-round and ponds filled with stunning koi carp. The observation deck on the upper level offers views of Sagami Bay and wider Kanagawa Prefecture that are recognised as some of the most picturesque in Kamakura.
The impressive black and gold Kannon-do hall dates from 736 and enshrines a Kannon statue. According to legend, the statue is one of two that were carved out of a sacred tree in present-day Nara Prefecture. One Kannon was enshrined at Hase-dera in Nara while the other was thrown into the sea with a prayer to reappear elsewhere and save people. It is said that 15 years later, the Kannon was washed up in Kanagawa and people brought it to Kannon-do hall.
Hase-dera is also home to Benten Kutsu Cave, a long winding series of low tunnels housing statues to Benzaiten, a sea goddess, carved out of the rock walls. Inside, small lights guide the way along low passages to spaces filled with religious statues. For a nominal donation, visitors can purchase a statue and write their wish on it before leaving it with the others.
4. Ride the Enoden
The Enoshima Electric Railway, or Enoden, is one of only three remaining tram systems in the Greater Tokyo area. It was established in 1902 and still exudes a sense of history thanks to its nostalgic, colourful carriages. Get the one-day pass called Noriori-kun (¥600 yen for adults) for unlimited rides.
Between Hase and Fujisawa, the train winds its way through the townscape with barely enough room to pass, affording riders a close-up view of the area and, later, great views of the ocean.
5. Visit Enoshima
A small island joined by bridge to the mainland, Enoshima is believed to be a holy spot; a torii gate marks the entrance. According to legend, the island was raised from the bottom of the sea in the 6th century by Benzaiten, the goddess of music and entertainment, who is enshrined in Enoshima Shrine.
There is a series of torii gates on the climb up to Enoshima Shrine, which is actually a group of three shrines. It is believed they were established in 552, although the current buildings date from 1657.
The shrines are a place for many unique practices. You can wash your money in a basket at the pond to wish for wealth, and pass through a bamboo ring to wish for safety. The ema (wishing tablets) are dedicated to those looking for love.
Why not break your journey along the steep hill at one of the food and drink stands selling rice cakes and fresh seafood, or check out the quirky cat-related merchandise in the shops, a nod to Enoshima’s other name: Cat Island.
With attractions encompassing history, nature and gastronomy in a scenic setting, Fujisawa is certain not to disappoint.
Find out more
For more details on Fujisawa, visit the page of Fujisawa City Tourist Association.