Festivals & Events
With dancing, music, horseback archery and even a tragic love story, the Kamakura Festival in mid-April celebrates highlights of the town's history and samurai lore.
You can get to the festival venue by train and a short walk.
The Kamakura Festival centers around Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, a 10-minute walk from JR Kamakura Station.
For one week from the second Sunday in April, Kamakura is taken over by the festival spirit.
Although the focal point is at the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, you'll find fun attractions across the city. The streets are filled with parading mikoshi shrines, music and dance (both modern and traditional), eating, drinking and merry-making.
The first day of the festival boasts the Shizuka no Mai dance performance based on the tragic story of Princess Shizuka.
The dance interprets the heroine's story from the “Tale of Heike," a 14th-century classic of Japanese literature. Princess Shizuka was in love with the warlord Minamoto no Yoshitune, but his rival Yoritomo seized her. When she refused to submit to him, she was imprisoned and her children executed.
The yabusame tournament of horseback archery takes place on the last day of the festival. Showing off essential samurai skills, each competitor must loose an arrow at the target while his horse is galloping at full tilt.
A larger yabusame festival takes place in September.