From the Kamakura Train Station, exit east and look left. You will see a giant red Torii gate marking the entrance to Kamakura’s famous Komachi Street. Bring your appetite because this will be the most delicious way to walk to Hachimangu Shrine, about six blocks north of the station. Komachi Street is filled with shops, restaurants and street food. You could spend a good part of a day and never get beyond Komachi Street. However, at the north end and through yet another large red Torii gate is the shrine of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu.
The shrine is an impressive complex. It hosts a museum, special exhibits, vendors, festivals, horse and archery demonstrations, kendo classes, weddings, a cafeteria, and even its own preschool. It also gets crowded, so come early or visit late in the afternoon if you want the elbow room.
Originally built in 1063 in the Zaimokuza neighborhood of Kamakura (where the little shrine still exists under the name, Mototsurugaoka Hachimangu), Hachimangu Shrine was moved to its present location in 1191 by Minamoto no Yoritomo. The large Torii gate near the three stone bridges is actually the third gate. The other two are down Wakamiya Dori towards the ocean, thus making the entrance to Hachimangu Shrine 1.8 km in length.
For a completely different ambiance from Komachi Street, leave the shrine heading south and stroll the relaxed pedestrian walkway lined with cherry trees and stone lanterns. This pathway was recently renovated and is quite lovely. It makes a beautiful backdrop for visitors taking photos in their rented kimonos. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants on either side.