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Japan, Kamakura – Stories Behind Yuigahama Beach

Written by Duke Stewart

Stories Behind Yuigahama Beach

Looking through some photos of our trip to Japan, I want to know a little more about the beach we walked along after a nice day in Japan’s first feudal capital. My wife took a photo of a stranger in a mirror and upon seeing that again, I looked into the beach only to find its name. I never realized that this beach hosted so much bloodshed and even a very famous botched execution. Let’s go back to that day walking around Yuigahama Beach in Kamakura.

Kamakura, Japan - Walking around Yuigahama Beach

Walk to the Beach

We finish walking from Hase Dera Temple and arrive at Yuigahama Beach, without realizing there’s more behind this quiet and picturesque patch of sand. It all goes back to a time long forgotten by many, except for the waves of tourists who come here each year. Kamakura’s historical traditions have remained well-preserved, with the Daibutsu nearby and so many wonderful temples within close vicinity. It’s hard to believe that this beach was once viewed as sacred and was once the scene where a popular religious leader escaped from the jaws of death.

Japan, Kamakura - Walking around Yuigahama Beach

Holy Ground and Nichiren’s Escape

During the Kamakura Period in Japan (1185-1392), Yuigahama Beach (then Maehama) was highly regarded and considered hallowed ground. Shoguns would cleanse themselves at this beach before venturing out to shrines and other religious sites throughout Feudal Japan. When the Kamakura government was nearing collapse, the beach transformed into a battlefield and witnessed enough bloodshed so that human remains are still occasionally found.

Millions of Nichiren Buddhists know about the founder’s serendipitous escape from execution (1271) and it’s a fascinating story to retell. He’d developed a reputation for badmouthing other orders of Buddhism and the rulers at the time decided to stop him through the sword. Luckily, a highly devoted follower intervened and put himself on the line for Nichiren. This act spared the leader’s life and as a result, assumed his “true identity” as Buddha.

Taken at Yuigahama #Beach in Kamakura #japan #travel

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A Picture Worth Words

We walk away without a clue about the history and interesting folklore behind Yuigahama. Thanks to the stranger in the mirror, I’ll eventually learn a fascinating story and learned that a simple beach was more than that. That’s the wonderful thing about history. It’s always there. We just have to find it. How many more places are there like Yuigahama Beach? There must be tons of them, full of stories many of us don’t know about.

What’s yours?

Read more Japan travel stories and guides and take your imagination there!


Getting to Yuigahama Beach

Courtesy of Kamakura Visitor’s Guide

Yuigahama Beach is a 15 minute walk from either Kamakura or Enoden Stations. We walked from the Hase Dera Temple and it took about 15 minutes from there as well. I’d go the latter route and enjoy scenic views of the railroad as well as the nice little town that overlooks the water.

About the author

Duke Stewart

As a recovering Expat, I write about Life through Travel and want you there with me through captivating stories followed by guides on how to do the same. My work has been featured in various magazines throughout Korea and in online publications including the awesome Hipmunk.com. I am also a nerd and love to point out a situation's similarities to any of my favorite movies, books, or tv shows. You've been warned:) Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily updates.

5 Comments

  • I have never been to Japan, or Yuigahama Beach but I was truly astounded to read that so many were slaughtered there that they still find human remains! That’s astounding! It looks so beautiful! And by the way, that is an amazing photograph!

    • Thank you Jacquie! I appreciate your comment. It’s easy to get sucked into the hits that surround this beach but having just stumble onto this story, it has really piqued my curiosity towards just about everywhere I go now!

  • I love this! I don’t always research a place before I go, but it’s fun to look back and have that moment where you think, “That happened? Seriously?!”

    I had one of those moments with Pluto’s Cave. My buddy and I crawled deep down inside with our flashlights. It wasn’t until later that I learned there are myths about a lost civilization hiding in the lava tubes which are found in the region. I was literally jumping around the hotel room I was so excited.

    Any chance you’ll make it back to Yuigahama?

    • Hey Nathan! Thanks for sharing your story about Pluto’s Cave! Very interesting stuff.

      I’d love to go back to Yuigahama but am not sure right now. I’ve been there twice but the main draw in that area is the Buddha and all the temples. Maybe someday?