Kamakura was the political powerhouse of Japan during the middle ages and the seat of government for most of the 13th century. Because of its historic importance, it boasts numerous monuments, temples and shrines. As an added bonus, the city sports sandy beaches and good hiking trails in the nearby wooded hills. One of the most important sites of interest is the Great Buddha: a bronze statue of the seated Amida Buddha located in the grounds of the Kotokuin Temple. Cast in 1252 and standing almost 44ft (13,35m) high, it's the second largest Buddha statue in Japan after that found in the Todaiji Temple in Nara.