Sugimoto-dera temple, which was reportedly founded in 734 CE, is one of the first temples you’ll find on your route should you decide to take the less beaten path around Kamakura by following the Kinubariyama hiking route.
As you have to turn into the street to the right across from the temple to enter the (easily missed) entrance to the hiking path, there’s no reason to pass by this Kamakura landmark while you’re in the area. There’s an entrance fee, charging 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for minors. It isn’t a lot, but the booth with the temple employee to the left side of the entrance can be easily missed, so make sure not to accidentally pass by should you decide to enter the temple grounds.
This Tendai Buddhist temple stretches across several levels connected by flights of stairs. Once you’re at the top, you can pray in the nicely ornamented main hall adorned by various flags, marvel at the large bronze bell across the hall, and have a nice view over parts of the town and the surrounding landscape of Kamakura. There may be better viewing spots in Kamakura, but the nice view adds to the package this temple has to offer.
The Kannon statues of the temple are, for many visitors, the real highlight of visiting Sugimoto-dera temple. They are definitely a must-see alongside taking in the general scenery of presented once you’ve ascended.
Throughout the temple grounds, there are the occasional cherry trees scattered around, so going in spring is a fine idea and an additional photo opportunity. Even though Sugimoto-dera is a Buddhist temple, you can also find a smaller Shinto shrine with carp figures and a scenic small torii upon turning right immediately after entering through the main gate.
The area is usually not crowded if one comes early enough. There are usually only a few locals and perhaps a few other tourists, so enjoying the peace and quiet of the place is a definite possibility. Adding to this charm, you might be pleased to hear that Sugimoto-dera temple is one of the oldest temples in Kamakura. Its original structures are long gone and have been torn down and erected anew throughout its history, but you can still enjoy walking on grounds that have been walked by people for hundreds of years in various capacities. So come here, get taken back in time, and appreciate some of the nice sights this place has to offer.