Kamakura is an old town located south from Tokyo, which was once the capital of Japan established by Minamoto samurai clan in 1192.
Today it is an interesting destination for both of international travelers and Japanese locals.
The greatest thing to see in Kamakura is undoubtedly The Great Buddha. But must-sees are not all for travelers. Kamakura has many cozy sites to explore the Japanese Middle Age. This article is all about Hokokuji (also, Houkokuji) Temple. It is extremely beautiful – Seeing is believing.
|Bamboo Garden in Hokokuji Temple, Kamakura, Japan|
Yes, this temple has a calm and beautiful Bamboo Garden!
I’m telling you
- How Beautiful & Refreshing the Bamboo Garden is
- Matcha House, A Must-Do at Hokokuji Temple
- Things to See in the Temple
- Practical Visitor Information & Useful Links
with 35 photos in this article. Hope you share the breezes at the Zen temple in May!
About the Temple
|The Entrance Gate of Hokokuji Temple|
When I passes through the gate, I thought I was right to visit here. I was amazed to see much green in Buddhist temple style.
|Buddhist Garden near the Gate|
|A Buddhist Statue in the Garden|
Hokokuji Temple was originally built by a priest and Ashikaga samurai clan in 1334.
The important fact is that it is a Zen temple – When Kamakura was the capital of Japan, some new sects of Buddhism were established to save people living in unstable times. Hokokuji Temple belongs to Rinzai Sect, one of the Zen sects started in Kamakura era.
It is a Zen temple that concentrates culture and history of Kamakura of Kamakura.
|Main Hall of Hokokuji Temple – Not so big.|
However, compared with big temples and shrines in Kamakura, Hokokuji Temple is small – in good meanings. You can explore “local Japanese temple” atmospheres that are not in big tourist spots. Getting off the bus at a local bus stop, going along a local path, and you’ll find the Zen temple. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?
|Goldfish near the Counter|
We can get a ticket to enter the Bamboo Garden here. I find NO reason Not to get the combined ticket with a cup of matcha. Remember?
|“Bamboo Garden” Entrance|
Fortunately, we can see bamboos all the year around. But I must say that May is special because of fresh green of all the trees…
|Fresh Green Maple Leaves in May|
Hokokuji Temple holds sutra hand-copying every day and weekly Zen meditation every Sunday morning. Common people come and join them.
|Main Hall and the Back Yard of white stones|
Let’s go to the Bamboo Garden. 2000 bamboos are quietly waiting for us. How tall!
|Bamboos Much Taller than the Roof|
Talking about bamboos, Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto is getting very popular. If you have bought a guidebook of Japan, you might have put it into your future travel schedule. But did you know this Zen temple in Kamakura?
What’s attractive is that the views of the Bamboo Garden is changing all the time as the sun is crossing the sky.
I understand you stroll with looking up, but sometimes you should look down.
|A Bamboo Shoot and a stone with moss|
When you proceed the Bamboo Forest, you’ll find some caves. They are tombs of Ashikaga samurai clan.
|“Yagura” Caves of Ashikaga clan|
Actually, this type of tombs are very interesting for Japanese locals like me, too, because they were made only in Kamakura in the Middle Age. Can you see how RARE they are? I promise you that tombs like this have already disappeared from the earth!
Here is the must-do at Hokokuji Temple.
Let’s enter the matcha house to have a break in the Bamboo Garden. (Tip: You can buy the matcha ticket only at the entrance of the garden. Please go down to Visitor Information at the bottom.)
|Kyuko-an, the Matcha House inside the Bamboo Garden|
We can have a cup of matcha with viewing the bamboos blew by breezes…
|The Matcha House with the Views of Bamboos|
Time to refresh with a matcha set…
|A Matcha Set in Hokokuji Temple|
The iris-shaped things are traditional sugar refreshments for matcha. (Not cube sugar for tea.) Have a matcha break…
Sorry, I just don’t have any word to explain the moments…
A tiny stream is seen over there. Look carefully, and we can find more beautiful things.
I want you to imagine sounds in the Bamboo Garden. This is a blog post, so it can’t be perfect to explore the garden.
As breezes blow against the 2000 bamboos high above my head, resonating sounds of the leaves fill in the space. Birds are singing all the time, too.
Sometimes we should forget noises in our busy like, shouldn’t we? At least, it was a beautiful experience for me. And I believe that feeling new senses is one of the greatest pleasures of traveling.
|Flowers flourishing on the roof|
I expected a lot for this trip, but Hokokuji Temple was more impressive than what I imagined. I can’t wait to write about other Zen temples soon.
Hope you shared the calm and beautiful Zen moments with me!
Want to See MORE of Kamakura?
Kamakura, Samurais’ Old Capital with The Great Buddha – Top Places for Autumn Leaves in Japan #02 – The Great Buddha and famous Hasedera Temple in autumn.
A Trip to Kamakura, Japan – Hydrangeas in June & All the Travel Info – Beautiful hydrangeas in Hasedera Temple in June.
Visitor Information of Hokokuji Temple
Admission Fee: Free to enter the temple, 200 yen to enter the bamboo garden, 500 yen to enter the bamboo garden & have a cup of matcha (order by 15:30)
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 16:00
Zen Meditation: 8:00 – 10:30 Every Sunday (Must arrive by 7:30. Can’t go out until the end.)
How to Get to Hokokuji Temple
Go to Kamakura Station, get out of East Exit and take a Keikyu bus via Kamakura Reien, Kanazawa Hyakkei / Hightland. Get off at Jomyoji Temple Bus Stop. It is a 12 minutes ride.
Tip 1: East Exit is the opposite side to Enoden station.
Tip 2: Bus Stop No.5 just in front of the station is it. There are notices in English at the bus stop.
Tip 3: Telops in English run in the buses for international travelers. Don’t worry about languages.
Tip 4: Hokokuji Temple is across from Jomyoji Temple. When you get off the bus, cross the small bridge over the stream there, and you’ll find Hokokuji Temple soon.
How to Get to Kamakura
From Tokyo Station: Catch a JR Yokosuka Line train. It is a 60 minutes ride to Kamakura.
From Shinagawa Station: Catch a JR Yokosuka Line train. It is a 50 minutes ride.
From Shinjuku: Catch a JR Shonan Shinjuku Line train. It is a 53 minutes ride.
See The Easiest JR Train Map of Tokyo by Tokyo Direct Guide