In the Japanese fantasy film Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura, the titular seaside town is described as a ‘magnet for mystical energy’ by Masakazu, the lead character. You won’t find any of the film’s water imps or frog monsters in the real Kamakura, but you will find a charming seaside town 55 kilometres south of Tokyo.
Based on the long-running comic book series by Ryohei Saigan, also set in Kamakura, Destiny follows the adventures of novelist Masakazu (played by Masato Sakai), who uses his knowledge of the supernatural to solve unusual crimes. The film also focuses on his relationship with his wife, Akiko, who discovers the supernatural side of the city with equal measures of naivety and wonder.
Masakazu’s home was actually built in Toho Studios in Tokyo’s Nerima district, but the film opens with a best-of-Kamakura tour as it shows him and Akiko arriving in the town in their car. This is where the Destiny tour should start.
A 10 minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station is Jochi Temple. Its recognisable entrance – with a pond, a stone bridge and the phrase ‘the treasure you’re looking for is next to you’ above the gate – features in the opening driving sequence. After visiting the temple, stop by the Nichirin bakery for fresh bread; and Toshimaya for a box of Hato Sable, a popular buttery, dove-shaped biscuit that’s made the shop a Kamakura institution (it also features in the movie).
An expert in the supernatural, Masakazu is often recruited by police to solve odd mysteries. In one part, Masakazu investigates how a murderer is able to escape his home without going through the front door. He figures out that the Enoshima railway tracks run so close to people’s homes that the murderer can hop on the train from his bedroom window. Kamakura’s Wadazuka Station is where Masakazu sees his theory in action.
©2017 “DESTINY: The Tale of Kamakura” Film Partners
It’s not a true Kamakura drive without cruising down Highway 134, which runs along the coast. The intersection near Kamakurakoko-Mae Station has become a popular spot for selfies because of its appearance in numerous movies (including Destiny) and music videos, as well as the opening credits of beloved anime series Slam Dunk.
Great Buddha of Kamakura
Masakazu’s drive also passes by the side of Kotoku-in Temple, which houses the Great Buddha of Kamakura. The bronze statue dates back to 1252, and has become one of the region’s most popular landmarks. The film uses CGI tricks to make the Buddha appear to stand above the temple’s walls – but in the real world, it’s impossible to see the statue without entering the temple grounds.
Kamakura is 90 minutes from Tokyo, to which Cathay Pacific flies from Hong Kong 63 times a week