Hokoku-ji is a Zen temple that was established 700 years ago. This Zen temple famous for its bamboo garden, giving it the nickname of Take-dera, or “Bamboo Temple.” It has been carefully maintained over a long period of time and the lush bamboo grove will take your breath away. Drink some matcha tea during a tea ceremony and take some time to quietly view the forest.
The Bamboo Temple with a beautiful bamboo grove
The bamboo grove is Hokokuji’s most famous attraction and can be found behind the main hall. The beautiful bamboo grove was originally a Buddhist training area, At the end of the 12th century, political rule by the military class took root in Kamakura and lasted until 1333. In the Kanto region at Kamakura, which was the capital city longer than Tokyo, even now retains many historical buildings giving an air of the old capital. In the background of those times, Hokoku-ji is a Zen temple belonging to the Kencho-ji school of the Rinzai sect that was built in 1334, after the demise of the Kamakura shogunate. Also known as the Bamboo Temple, it has attracted many tourists on weekends as a famous place with a beautiful bamboo garden forest.
The best time to visit is either early in the morning, to avoid the crowds, or on a sunny day to see the rays of sunlight magically beaming through the bamboo.The large grove is amazing with 2000 splendidly maintained bamboo stalks soaring up into the sky. If you walk on the narrow path along the forest, you’ll forget the hustle and bustle of the city through the chirping of small birds and the scent of the bamboo, and there will be a heartfelt serenity.
Hokokuji’s Bell Tower
Located to the left of the main hall is a unique-looking bell tower with a simple thatched straw roof. The quaint bell tower harks back to the the original thatched roof of the main hall; it was destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923.
There is a teahouse in the bamboo grove where you can enjoy a cup of matcha tea while leisurely looking at the garden. You will want to savor the tea as it is served on a tray made in the Kamakura-bori style, a type of traditional handicraft of Kamakura as you also enjoy it with your eyes.
Opening hours: 09:00 – 16:00
Closing days: December 29 – January 3
Free for temple, 200 yen for bamboo groves, 500 yen for bamboo groves plus matcha (Japanese green tea)
From Kamakura station, take bus no. 23, 24 or 36 towards Jomyoji (10 mins, 200 yen), and alight at Jomyoji bus stop. Hokokuji is then just about 2 minutes away on foot. Alternatively, you can walk from Kamakura station, which should take less than 30 minutes.