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Good to Know Before You Visit! Basic Knowledge on Kanagawa

Traveling will be so much more fun if you learn about the special features of the area you will be visiting before you actually go there, right? Below is everything you need to know about Kanagawa Prefecture that is located in the Kanto region.

2017.09.14
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What kind of place is Kanagawa?

History

Kanagawa is located in the southwestern part of the Kanto region. Facing two bays, Tokyo Bay and Sagami Bay, and having a topography that is blessed with mountains, hills and plains, it has been a land that is easy to live in since ancient times. As proof, shell mounds, ancient tombs and other relics from the past exist in roughly 7,500 spots inside the prefecture.
This area fully flourished during the Middle Ages, when Japan’s first shogunate was launched in Kamakura. It was catapulted into the limelight when it became the center of Japanese politics for about 150 years starting 1192. By the end of the 18th century, Japan, which had then been under sakoku (policy of national isolation), sought trade and sealed a treaty of peace and amity with the developed countries in the West. In 1859, Yokohama Port was opened as an international trade port, and Kanagawa, which is pillared in Yokohama, has since then manifested significant developments in both economy and culture.

Climate

The average annual temperature in Kanagawa stands at 16.2°C, with a maximum temperature of 35.2°C and a minimum temperature of -1.1°C. It has a relatively temperate climate with a large amount of rainfall due to its topography that faces mountains, plains and seas, and the effects of the Kuroshio (Black Current) in the Pacific Ocean.

Temperament

While the temperament of the people in Kanagawa differs from area to area, people who live in Yokohama, for instance, are often said to be trendy, sensitive to fashion, and love smart and hate unpolished or unfashionable stuff. This temperament seems to be linked to Yokohoma’s being an international city that continues to serve as the gateway to Japan for a long time now. Meanwhile, in Kamakura, people are more relaxed like the nature of the old city that it is, and the people who live in the inland areas tend to be carefree and generous.

Dialect

People in Kanagawa generally use standard Japanese, and dialects and accents are almost never heard. But if there’s one Yokohama dialect characteristic that is famous here, then that would have to be the addition of “-jan” at the end of a word or sentence. So, for instance, if they want to say “Anata ga sou itta” (in English, this literally means “that’s what you said”), they end up saying “Anata ga sou itta jan”.


Transport Access Guide

Access to Kanagawa

There are no airports inside Kanagawa, and the nearest one is Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport) in Tokyo. Aside from international flights, access flights to/from major airports in Japan depart and arrive in this airport. From Haneda Airport, you can reach Yokohama Station in about 30 minutes by train or airport bus. Traveling is extremely smooth. Further, you can get on the Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train) at the Shin-Yokohama Station, so you can easily get to such areas as Osaka and Hiroshima, too.

Transportation Inside Kanagawa

Traveling by train is very convenient when you are in Kanagawa as there are JR, private railways and monorail lines that pass through the area. Movement between major cities in the prefecture without taking too much time is possible. For instance, traveling between Kamakura and Yokohama will take you around 25 minutes if you take the JR Yokosuka Line (340 JPY one-way for adults). Hopping on Kanagawa’s iconic symbol, the Enoden (Enoshima Electric Railway), is also recommended. The Enoden will let you go around the major tourist spots in Kamakura and Enoshima on a train with a retro vibe that connects Kamakura Station and Fujisawa Station, while enjoying a picturesque view of the beautiful seas from the train windows.


Representative Tourist Attractions

Kanagawa has a myriad of faces, such as a state-of-the-art atmosphere and a nostalgic vibe. It is a place that is overflowing with must-see spots, dotted with a lot of attractive areas such as Yokohama that houses Minato Mirai 21 with a large-scale shopping mall, art museums, skyscrapers and a grand Ferris wheel, and Kamakura that has many temples, shrines, historic sites and other famous spots that will give you a glimpse into its history, as well as Hakone that is known as Japan’s premiere hot spring district, and Enoshima/Shonan where people go for a dip in the ocean.


Photo shows the main gate of Enkakuji temple in Kamakura


Photo shows the night scene at Minato Mirai (Yokohama)

Must-try Specialty Dishes

Kanagawa, blessed with the bounties of the mountains and seas, has a lot of specialty dishes to offer. Here, you can savor a wide array of dishes, including the Shirasudon, which is a bowl of rice topped with fresh raw shirasu (whitebait) caught from the coastal town of Shonan, the exquisite Chinese dishes at Yokohama Chinatown, the Yokohama Kakei Ramen (a kind of ramen wherein chicken fat floats in the soup from tonkotsu (pork belly, bones and other ingredients) and soy sauce soup (including chicken bones) that is cooked for a long time) that originated in Yokohama and is now spreading throughout the country, and Yokosuka’s local dish Yokosuka Kaigun Curry (a reproduction of the curry rice eaten by the Japanese Navy) that flourished as an important element of the Japanese Navy.


Photo shows Shirasudon


Photo shows Kakei Ramen that originated from Yokohama

Recommended Souvenirs

Kanagawa has an extremely rich variety of souvenirs available, proportional to the number of sightseeing destinations in the prefecture. Aside from Hato Sable (a kind of biscuit that is shaped like a dove), the famous shortbread from Kamakura that has a rich buttery taste, and such dishes as the shumai (steamed meat dumpling) from Kiyoken, which has become a synonym for Yokohama souvenir, there is also a wide array of traditional crafts to choose from, including the Hakone Yosegi-zaiku with a modern geometric pattern that capitalizes on the color and grains of natural wood, and the Odawara Shikki that has a beautiful and simple expression.

Photo shows the Hato Sable


Photo shows the Hakone Yosegi-zaiku

Kanagawa Prefecture, boasting easy access from the capital of Tokyo, is definitely a place that you have to put in your travel itinerary when you visit Japan!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: nakamura

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