Kamakura, in Kanagawa prefecture, is an increasingly popular destination for tourists looking to get out of Tokyo city for the day. There you can see an array of different and interesting shrines, temples and hiking trails. Kamakura tends to remind me of Kyoto because of its peacefulness and historical significance. Only an hour south-west of central Tokyo, the quiet and relaxed pace starkly contrasts Tokyo’s intense and sometimes stressful environment. One of the more serene places to visit is the Zen Buddhist temple Hokokuji.
Hokokuji Temple (報国寺) is popular for its relaxed atmosphere and stunning bamboo groves. The temple was founded in 1334, which makes it almost 700 years old. It is difficult to even comprehend how much time has passed since its creation. One of the more beautiful aspects of Japan is how well their culture has been preserved, and Hokokuji Temple is a perfect example of how truly capable the Japanese people have been at respecting their history.
The temple can be reached by taking a 10-minute bus ride from Kamakura station, or alternatively you can walk there, which takes about 30-40 minutes depending on your pace. I elected to walk as I felt that while traveling it is always a good idea to savor the experience outside, as I tend to spend most of my time in Tokyo indoors! The walk is actually quite pleasant, so I definitely recommend it.
As you enter Hokokuji, you will see many beautiful plants and trees, but the main attraction is definitely the bamboo grove. The grove itself is incredibly relaxing; the air feels so fresh and the tall bamboo trees seem to cut out all outside noise. Entry is 200 yen, or 500 yen if you opt for the tea service, where you can sit in a small hut surrounded by the beautiful bamboo trees.
As you walk along the stone path and breathe in the fresh air, check out the immaculately-crafted statues and appreciate the simple serenity of old Japan. Once you reach the end of the path through the bamboo grove, you will find some more plants and statues, along with the actual temple itself.
Hokokuji itself is quite small, so you are unlikely to spend a great deal of time there, but the temple is a can’t-miss spot if you are headed to Kamakura. It is definitely a great opportunity to take some wonderful photos, get some exercise and fresh air, or simply just enjoy some Japanese tea amongst the stunning bamboo grove. Enjoy Hokokuji!
|Address||2-7−4, Jomyo-ji, Kamakura-city, Kanagawa|
|Access||[map]2-7−4, Jomyo-ji, Kamakura-city, Kanagawa[/map]|
|Price Range||200 yen/500 yen with tea service|