Kanagawa Prefecture Overview
Often seen as an extension of Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture is best known for its prefectural capital city Yokohama, which breaks records as the second most populated city in Japan and the home of one of the largest Chinatowns in the world. Much more than just its cities though, the small prefecture of Kanagawa offers a diverse landscape of winding rivers, mountain peaks, and, of course, some of the best beaches within reaching distance from Tokyo.
Comprising part of the Greater Tokyo Areaーwhich is known as the world’s largest metropolitan areaーKanagawa Prefecture is the westerly next door neighbor of Tokyo. Yokohama is the prefecture’s most celebrated city and at just 20 minutes on the train from Tokyo it feels like another district of Tokyo, but with an altogether different charm. While illuminated skyscrapers and the iconic big wheel make up the majority of the Yokohama skyline, it’s Yokohama Bay and Yokohama Chinatown that prove the most alluring of the city’s attractions. Yokohama Bay is fit for a leisurely walk taking in the sights including the ships, flowers, and the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse before heading to Chinatown where the streets are dominated by Chinese bric-a-brac shops and a whole host of Chinese food with buffets being the most popular dining style.
Heading west away from Tokyo, it’s hard to believe that the sleepy seaside towns of Kanagawa are so close to Yokohama. The Miura Peninsula sports a wild and rugged coastline and is the place to go for a beach trip from Tokyo. At less than one hour by train from Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, Zushi is one of the busiest beaches along the coast where sun, sand, and seafood fuse with unpredictable party beach vibes that keep the beaches alive into the evening during summer.
With a day trip to Kanagawa the most common way to visit the prefecture, Kamakura can’t be omitted from the list. A significant political force almost 1,000 years ago, Kamakura is now mostly frequented by tourists who visit for its pretty streets and mass of temples and shrines, most importantly Kotokuin Temple which is home to the Great Buddha of Kamakura, an impressive 11.3-metre bronze statue. A further half an hour west along the coast is Enoshima, a small beach-filled island that offers spectacular views over Mt. Fuji on a clear day.
Hakone, in the very western reaches of Kanagawa Prefecture, is one of Japan’s most popular onsen resorts. A vast array of natural spring water baths await where the right choice could see you relaxing in a hot bath against a splendid backdrop of Mt. Fuji. Bordering Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, the west of Kanagawa is where Hakone Volcano and the Tanzawa Mountain Range begin in a build-up to Mt. Fuji less than 50 km away offering plenty of hiking opportunities, while back east towards Tokyo, the Tama River is a popular destination in summer for picnics, barbecues, and viewing sunsets or fireworks.