I think we could all do with a bit of peace right now, with everything that’s going on, so it seems like the perfect time to post some pictures of my visit to this beautifully serene bamboo forest.Kamakura is a small city about an hour’s train ride outside of Tokyo and is a popular destination for visitors to Tokyo and residents too. There are a variety of different shrines and temples, shopping streets, an old fashioned electric railway, plenty of food spots, and even a giant buddha to see, so it makes for the perfect day trip! I’ll definitely share with you more of the places we visited in Kamakura, but for now we’ll enjoy the zen atmosphere of Hokokuji temple.
Once you arrive in Kamakura, Hokokuji is about a 30 minute walk from the station (or there’s a bus too) and when we visited, which was at about 3.00 on a weekday, it was almost empty. I know this isn’t always the case – I went expecting a lot of people – but I think visiting at opening or an hour before closing might make your time a little quieter. Hokokuji is a small temple of one of the sects of Zen Buddhism, so you can imagine how peaceful it can be, and it’s probably most famous for its small bamboo grove. It was somewhere I knew I wanted to visit as soon as I saw it – imagine just being surrounded by over 2000 giant stalks of bamboo.
When you first enter Hokokuji, there’s a beautifully maintained garden that leads up to the temple area, with a little water fountain, statues and gorgeous foliage. This part is all free to visit, but if you want to enter the bamboo grove, you need to purchase a ticket from the little window at one corner of the temple building (300 yen or 900 yen to include a matcha tea service in the tea house). Behind the temple is the bamboo grove, tea house, shallow caves (used as grave sites I believe), a pond and a zen garden (rock garden). It doesn’t take long to see everything here, but the quiet atmosphere (at the right times) makes you want to walk slowly round and soak it all in. You could spend anywhere from a 5 minute straight walk through to a 30 minute session with tea in the tea house, but it’s the perfect space to just take your time and breathe before your full day out or after a busy day of sightseeing.
To get to Kamakura, you can catch a direct train from Shinagawa station, like I did, or from the more central Tokyo Station. I definitely recommend making some time during your day trip to wander around the garden here. It’s very relaxing, whether you just stroll under the bamboo for a while or sit in the tea house and take in the peaceful atmosphere.
Hokokuji // 2 Chome-7-4 Jomyoji, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0003, Japan