Kamakura’s Green Spaces

Kamakura, where I lived from 2020 to 2024, is a beautiful coastal town less than an hour south of Tokyo. Its temples, gardens, and beaches attract tourists from across Japan and the world, but what became evident even in the short time there is that development is concreting over much of the green space that makes it so attractive.


This is not a new phenomenon; a substantial reduction in woodland started in the late 1950s with the large-scale development of hilly areas, which continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s. This rapid decline slowed in the 1970s, with woodland covering about 36% of the city’s area by 1990.

In 1996, the Kamakura City Green Master Plan was established to preserve green spaces and promote urban greening based on the philosophy of “Kamakura, where the nature of the mountains and sea coexists with people and history”.

By 2016, forested areas made up about 32% (1,284 hectares) of the city. It’s worth noting that between 1882 and 2020 the population boomed from 6,000 to 173,000 people.

One of the most egregious examples of environmental destruction in Kamakura has to be the Kamakura Country Club (鎌倉カントリークラブ) golf course and nearby cemetry which ate up a huge swathes of forested hills north of the city center.

During renovation of the club house in 2023 they ruthlessly cut down all the trees and bushes on top of the hill along the public hiking trail in order to provide a better view from the building. This removed all the shade from where people used to picnic and relax. Ironically I never saw anyone inside the club house.

How it used to look
On a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji from near Ohirayama Summit (太平山 山頂)
Before and after the bulldozers arrived

Near where I used to live there were numerous examples of huge swathes of land getting bulldozed for residential development. Often these turned out to be small unremarkable homes jam packed together to maximise the profitability of the land.

As someone who gained emense pleasure from the natural environment it made me so depressed to see all this ubridled destruction. It seems commercial concerns are winning out over environmental protection but if Kamakura isn’t careful it may wake up one day and find that what made it so special no longer exists.

David avatar


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *