On Sunday 2nd July 2023, I challenged myself with this ~12km solo hike from JR Kounandai to JR Kamakura, via the Kamakura Ten’en Hiking Trail in the “Kamakura Alps”.
After delivering the pamphets and papers from the chonai meeting the night before to our group’s mailboxes, I set out at about 6:30 am on the scooter, and parked at a 24 hour lot at JR Ofuna. From there, I took the train two stops up the Negishi line to Kounandai, bought a couple of protein bars at the combini, and exited. Outside the station, I turned on Geographica and Apple Watch Fitness (Hiking), and set off toward the trailhead which is up the hill from that station.
It was already hot by the time I got started, around 30C with high humidity around 90%. The week before I had taken our dog Maru on a shorter hike in these same woods, and got bit by a “buyo” black fly. Not recommended, would not repeat. This time, thanks to the hive mind on social, I used bug repellent and brought hakka (peppermint) oil to spritz with along the way.
The trailhead wasn’t immediately apparent. From Konandai 5 intersection, you turn in before the fire dep’t, then take the first left up the steep path that goes behind the recyling center. On Google Maps it kind of looks like you can get to the trail from behind the recyling center, but you can’t. The link above shows how you need to go.
At first the trail is just a concrete path, but that slowly changes to trail as you go along up toward the Isshindo plaza. About the trail, it’s typical for trails in this area: hardpack dirt with a lot of roots and some rocks, and areas that are just a massive boulder you walk over. So many people have passed over the years, that there are grooves worn into the rock. It had rained the day before, so there was a considerable amount of mud the entire trip, getting worse as I went along. I was glad for long hiking pants, though there were plenty of trail runners in shorts. Today I wore trail running shoes, not boots, and while boots would have been better in the mud, the trail running shoes are much better for this kind of surface in general. I’m currently wearing Columbia Montrail’s which I like as much as the Altra LonePeaks I had before.
I can’t trail run, but I fast-walked or jogged where I could, from Isshindo, past Enkaizan, Shodo Citizens Forest, Kanazawa Citizens Forest, the Sekiyaoku viewing platform, making it to the Yokohama Nature Observation Forest and Shikai Plaza. Shikai is the border between Yokohama and Kamakura, and from there it’s a short 30 min or so to Kamakura Ten’en. There’s a rest house at Ten’en where you can get food like Oden or just sit if you get a drink from the vending machine (it’s a private rest house) but this time I did not go there. I went up to Ten’en itself, which is the highest point in Yokohama city and has a nice view (around here, the trail kind of straddles the border between Yokohama and Kamakura).
From Ten’en I had to decide whether to press on to Kenchoji near JR Kita-Kamakura or to go down to Zuizenji. The sign said 90 min to Kenchoji so I opted to turn left and go down to Zuizenji instead, a much shorter trip. Though shorter, the descent was a bit gnarly, with a lot of slippery knee-stressing natural steps. By that time it was about 9km in, and I was feeling it. My legs were starting to shake and I had to pause a few times and just take it slow. There’s a sign at some point that says it’s 400m to Zeizenji, so I’m thinking, oh, easy, but no, nature laughs. That’s where the descent really started. If you’re young or in great shape, it’s probably not a problem, but I was glad when that 400m was over!
I didn’t visit Zuizenji, but just walked down the hill toward Kamakuragu (toilets there), helping a tourist find parking a long the way. On the way to Kamakura station, there’s a German café “Bergfeld” which serves an excellent open face sandwich lunch set. Light, and just right after this hike.
From Bergfeld, it was a short trip through incredible crowds to get to JR Kamakura, and then it was two stops back to Ofuna and home by scooter. All in all, a great but exhausting day! Hope to see you on the trail! 🥾
See the photo gallery.