Kanagawa: Around the prefecture in 8 days
You probably know Yokohama, Kamakura, and Hakone. But did you know that these well-known places are in a prefecture named Kanagawa (神奈川県 Kanagawa-ken)?
It might sound obscure, but Kanagawa is located right next to the south of Tokyo! Sights, fun, and food: you can find them all here, whether you like the fast-paced city bustle or to take a step away into the quiet of deeply cultural places. Yokohama (横浜)—Kanagawa’s capital city—is the most populous municipality in Japan, while Kamakura is steeped in history as the capital city of Japan during the Kamakura Period (1185–1333), when the samurai caste first emerged.
Kanagawa is to the south of Tokyo. (Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)
Bordered by the sea along the Shonan (湘南) coastline and lined with mountain ranges on the other end, various lakes and rivers also run through the prefecture and the southwestern area is famous for onsen (温泉 hot springs). Beach-goers, mountain trekkers, onsen-hoppers, or just plain nature lovers—all are welcome!
So, let’s begin our 8-day journey around Kanagawa! Read on for some top recommendations you might not have known.
Day 1–2: Atsugi / Zama
Oyama-Afuri Shrine. (Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)
Get your trekking shoes on, because we’re going up a mountain in Central Kanagawa!
Mount Oyama (大山 Ōyama) is one of the peaks of the Tanzawa Mountain Range (丹沢山地 Tanzawa-sanchi) in Atsugi City (厚木市 Atsugi-shi) and is considered a sacred mountain since the Edo Period (1603–1868). You can take the cable car halfway up the mountain to the famous Oyama Afuri Shrine (大山阿夫利神社 Ōyama afuri-jinja), or spend your morning hiking up from the foot to the summit in 2.5 hours. On a clear day, the peak presents stunning views of Mount Fuji, Sagami Bay (相模湾 Sagami-wan), and a panoramic view of the prefecture.
Mount Oyama (大山)
Address: Nanasawa, Atsugi, Kanagawa 243-0121
Nearest station: Isehara Station (伊勢原駅)
Access: 30 minutes by Kanachu Bus #4 from Isehara Station
Ayu over the grill. (Image credit: Jinomono Media / Unsplash)
In summer, the seasonal must-have dish in Atsugi is ayu (鮎 sweetfish)—best grilled with crispy skin and mouth-watering soft, sweet flesh—you can try it at the Atsugi Ayu Festival (Atsugi Ayu Matsuri あつぎ鮎まつり) happening in early August every year.
Atsugi Ayu Festival (あつぎ鮎まつり)
Dates: Every 1st Saturday of August
Nearest station: Hon-Atsugi Station (本厚木駅)
Access: 8-minute walk from Hon-Atsugi Station
Opening hours: 7am–8pm
Admission fee: Free
Golden sunflowers beneath cornflower blue skies in Zama Sunflower Field. (Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)
Want to see a sunflower field in person? After that sweet(fish) treat, head on over to the neighbouring Zama City (座間市 Zama-shi). Since 1969, Zama sunflowers have been representing the city. The Zama Sunflower Field (座間ひまわり畑 Zama himawari batake) has expanded year upon year, and now covers more than 5.5 hectares of land—talk about being buried in gold! Take a picture during golden hour in the field beneath cornflower blue skies, and let 550,000 sunflowers power up your day!
The Zama Sunflower Festival (座間市ひまわりまつり Zama-shi Himawari matsuri) takes place every year in mid-August, since the best time to view them is between mid-July through August.
Zama Sunflower Field (Zama Area) (座間ひまわり畑)
Address: Shindenjuku, Zama, Kanagawa 252-0026
Nearest station: Sobudai-Mae Station (相武台前駅)
Access: Take the direct bus from Sobudai-Mae Station and alight at Himawari Matsuri Kaijo (ひまわり祭り 会場)
Opening hours: 24 hours
Day 3–4: Yokohama
Yokohama's Minato Mirai lit up at night. (Image credit: Tunafish / Unsplash)
Next, we travel eastward to a city filled with people—Yokohama is the epitome of city life in Kanagawa, and probably needs no further introduction. The highly urbanised Minato Mirai area, historic Aka-Renga Soko (横浜赤レンガ倉庫 Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse), and bustling Yokohama Chinatown are all popular places with locals and tourists alike. You could even spend a week in Yokohama absorbing the sights and food. But if there was one thing you have to try the next time you find yourself in Yokohama, it’s iekei (家系 family-style) ramen.
Iekei ramen is a delicious mixture of tonkotsu (豚骨 pork bone marrow) and soy sauce soup. So popular that it spread throughout Japan under different shop names, but its roots trace back to this original shop in Yokohama since 1974: Yoshimuraya (吉村家). The line during peak hours goes around the block and the waiting time to enter itself might be an hour long, but that’s how you know it’s well worth the wait!
Address: 2-12-6 Minamisaiwai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 220-0005
Nearest station: Yokohama Station
Access: 10-minute walk from Yokohama Station (Exit 5)
Opening hours: 11am–10pm (closed on Mondays)
Interior of Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. (Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)
Alternatively, you could hit up the famous Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum (新横浜ラーメン博物館 Shin-Yokohama Rāmen Hakubutsukan) for some 1958 retro-Tokyo vibes with life-sized street settings and a variety of regional ramen shops.
Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum (新横浜ラーメン博物館)
Address: 2-14-21 Shinyokohama, Kohoku-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 222-0033
Nearest station: Shin-Yokohama Station (新横浜駅)
Access: 5 to 10-minute walk from Shin-Yokohama Station
Opening hours: 11am–8pm
Admission fees (1-day ticket): ¥310 (Adults), ¥100 (Children and seniors)
Day 5: Miura
Miura Peninsula. (Image credit: Mak / Unsplash)
At the southernmost edge of Kanagawa lies the Miura Peninsula (三浦半島 Miura-hantō); a city centred around fishing, with Misaki Port (三崎港 Misaki-kō) as one of Japan’s major fishing harbours, known especially for tuna. From the rocky coastline of Miura, you have a beautiful view of the sea and can even see Mount Fuji. From Misaki, you can also take a water taxi over to Jogashima Island (城ヶ島), rated two-stars as a scenic spot in Michelin Green Guide Japan, to visit Jogashima Lighthouse (城ヶ島灯台 Jōgashima tōdai)—the fourth oldest Western-style lighthouse in Japan dating back to 1870. If you love aquatic activities, how about experiencing diving (suitable even for beginners) or taking a semi-submerged boat trip round the island?
Jogashima Lighthouse (城ヶ島灯台)
Address: Misakimachi Jogashima, Miura, Kanagawa 238-0237
Nearest station: Misakiguchi Station (三崎口駅)
Access: Take the bus from Misakiguchi Station and alight at Jogashima, then a 4-minute walk.
Opening hours: 24 hours
A Chakkirako performance. (Image credit: Miura City)
Here’s an additional secret found only in Misaki: the traditional Chakkirako Festival (チャッキラコ) is one of Japan’s important UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage that takes place every January. Since the Edo Period, girls between ages 5 to 12 perform a dance that prays for good catches of fish.
Chakkirako Festival (チャッキラコ)
Dates: 15 January
Address: 4-12-11 Misaki, Miura-shi, Kanagawa 238-0243 (Kainan Shinto Shrine precincts)
Nearest station: Misakiguchi Station (三崎口駅)
Access: Take the bus from Misakiguchi Station and alight at Misaki-ko (三崎港) stop.
Time: From 10am onwards
Day 6: Shonan Coast
Enoshima beach views and surf culture. (Image credit: Ye Linn Wait / Unsplash)
Feeling like summer? The Shonan Coast that stretches along Sagami Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in Japan. It is also where modern surfing was introduced—back in the 1960s when locals were enthralled by the American soldiers' surfing style and began to learn from them. Today, Enoshima Island (江ノ島) and other towns along this coastline have a deeply integrated surf culture and host several major Japanese competitions yearly as well.
Kamaage Shirasu-don. (Image credit: Tobiccho Honten / Kanagawa Prefectural Government)
Besides the leisurely atmosphere, a must-try when you are this close to the sea is seafood! One such dish that you would be hard-pressed to find this fresh and delicious in other parts of Japan is shirasu-don (しらす丼 whitebait rice bowl), since shirasu must be eaten fresh within the day for its full flavour (unless they are dried). Shirasu-don is a Kanagawa-original specialty that you can find in the Shonan area—particularly in Kamakura, Enoshima, and Chigasaki.
Tobiccho Honten (しらす問屋とびっちょ 江の島本店)
Address: 1-6-7 Enoshima, Fujisawa, Kanagawa 251-0036
Nearest station: Katase-Enoshima Station (片瀬江ノ島駅)
Access: 10-minute walk from Katase-Enoshima Station
Opening hours: 11am–8pm
Recommendations: tobiccho-don (No. 1 recommendation), kamaage shirasu-don
Day 7–8: Odawara / Hakone
Odawara Castle is surrounded by sakura in March. (Image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government)
Immerse yourself in Japan's history as you visit the unmistakable landmark of Odawara (小田原): Odawara Castle (小田原城 Odawara-jō). This beautiful white structure first dates to 1447 and was the final location that marked the completion of Japan's unification in 1590.
Odawara Castle (小田原城)
Address: Jonai, Odawara, Kanagawa 250-0014
Nearest station: Odawara Station (小田原駅)
Access: 10-minute walk from Odawara Station
Opening hours: 9am–5pm
Breath-taking view of Mount Fuji and Ashinoko torii. (Image credit: Sravan V / Unsplash)
Finally, to round off this activity-packed trip, take a breather (or have your breath taken away) in the tranquillity of Hakone (箱根).
Sulphuric valley of Owakudani. (Image credit: Natalie Fung / Unsplash)
Boasting some of the best views of Mount Fuji, many tourists visit Hakone for the awe-inspiring sights of Lake Ashi (芦ノ湖 Ashi-no-ko), smoky geothermic Owakudani (大涌谷), and of course, the many relaxing onsen dotting the area. Recline back while wearing a yukata and have some black eggs from Owakudani (they supposedly add seven more years to your life)!
So, what are you waiting for? Kanagawa has it all laid out for you no matter what you love to do or eat. Get that much-needed vacation, and unravel Kanagawa's secrets in eight days!
Header image credit: Kanagawa Prefectural Government
This article is written in collaboration with JETRO Singapore Kanagawa Division. All information stated is accurate as of 27 Aug 2021.