Kanagawa: Experience the Beauty of Tokyo's Neighbor
Kanagawa (神奈川), located on Honshu (本州) island, is the second largest prefecture in Japan. Bordering Tokyo to the south, it's home to beautiful landscapes, beaches, cities and religious sites, making it an ideal getaway for vacationers, tourists and locals.
Its capital, Yokohama (横浜), was historically known for its deep-water bays, making it an easily accessible commerce port by ship. It was quite isolated prior to the 19th century, when fishing was its main industry. Yokohama became a boomtown in 1859 with the establishment of unrestricted foreign trade. Foreigners from Europe, China and America, flooded Yokohama as a means to commercialize a relatively unchecked market, which lead to the melding of Japanese and foreign culture still seen today.
In contrast to the bustling cities of Tokyo and Chiba, Kanagawa, which is only an hour away by train, is home to many historical sites and lush beaches. The city of Kamakura (鎌倉), a religious sight for local Buddhists, is lined with traditional wooden Japanese houses and shops making you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. And after visiting the famous 50-foot Kamakura Daibutsu (large Buddha sculpture), you’re within walking distance of some of the prefecture's best beaches. The beaches are known for their ocean swells and warm water, attracting surfers and wakeboarders during the summer months, and for their clear view of Mount Fuji (富士山).
The Great Wave off Kanagawa, also known as The Great Wave or simply The Wave, is arguably one of the most renown pieces of art from Japan. The woodblock print by the artist Hokusai (北斎), is said to have been made in the late Edo period between 1829-1833. It depicts a violent crashing wave off the coast of Sagami Bay in Kanagawa, and three fishing boats trying to stay afloat with the presence of Mt Fuji looming in the background.
The area of Hakone (箱根), which sits within the Fuji-Hakone-Izu national park, is most famous for its relaxing onsens (natural hot springs). Although Mt. Fuji is a dormant volcano, it still experiences seismic activity and has lava chambers deep underground that spew hot steam. This heat helps to create the hot springs of Hakone, that are used as relaxing and healing baths. The area also has a wide variety of museums and outdoor spots for hiking and camping.