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Kamakura was constructed by the samurai (warrior class) to be the seat of their political power. It is surrounded by hills to the north, east and west, and faces the ocean to the south. For this reason, it is ideally protected. The samurai government controlled all of Japan from here for over 150 years, and Kamakura became the center of politics, economy and culture. The samurai government of Japan continued from 1192 to 1868, during which period the cities of Kamakura and Edo were constructed to serve as places of administration. However, Edo later changed into the modern city of Tokyo, so that the only remaining place where one can find a grouping of cultural properties reminiscent of samurai culture is the area around Kamakura.
Today one may see in Kamakura the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine), which was at the center of the city plan, and Wakamiya Oji, a large avenue that stretches from the front of the shrine toward the sea. There are a number of temples and temple sites like Kenchoji, Enkakuji, Kotoku-in and Yofukuji, built on the surrounding hillsides, as well as sites of houses belonging to the samurai in power at the time. Also in the surrounding hills are steep pathways, known as the Kamakura Nakakuchi, which served as routes to the outside. Along the ocean front there is Wagae-jima, a port site.