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報国寺(竹寺) Hokokuji Temple (Takedera Temple)

  • Buildings (Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals)
  • Around Kamakura
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  • ClosedNew Year Holidays

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Around Kamakura
2-7-4 Jomyoji, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa 248-0003, Japan
  • Buildings (Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals)
Opening Hours
New Year Holidays
Date of post:2015/06/16

Enjoy green tea in the bamboo grove

  • Temple / Shrine

Among many Buddhist temples in Kamakura, Hokokuji Temple is very unique. Its nickname is Bamboo Temple. You can visit there by bus from Kamakura Station.

This is a Zen Buddhist temple constructed in 1334 by Ashikaga Ietoki whose grandson became Shogun (military leader) a few years later. Samurai liked Zen Buddhism because this Buddhism requires a lot of meditation and it develops mental strength. Kamakura used to be the military capital, so you find many Zen temples here. You can participate in Meditation class every Sunday from 8:30.

The characteristic of this temple is a bamboo grove. It is beautifully maintained. It is said that bamboo tree can live more than 50 years, but they lose vivid green color when they get old and become brown. So, they have to cut off the old trees in order to maintain the beautiful grove.

You can enjoy walking through the bamboo grove and you will find a little tea house in the grove. I recommend you to drink Matcha green tea (powdered green tea used for tea ceremony) while appreciating the view of the bamboo grove. It gives you a quiet and relaxing time.

You can also enjoy this temple in autumn with red leaves.

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Date of post:2015/06/12

Feel the Zen spirit

  • Temple / Shrine
  • Special Recommendations

Needless to say, it’s famous as a bamboo temple. As being a Zen temple, the origin is that a priest was here to train himself and spend the rest of his life, and he made this garden for his retreat. There are as many as 2000 bamboo trees growing in the grounds. Bamboos grow long and straight, which has been a symbol of purity and is used for some sacred objects, such as Kadomatsu, a decoration for the New Year. The species of the bamboo is called Moso-chiku bamboo, which occurs in the humid subtropical climate, and the biggest species in Japan.

If you would like to make your stay more perfect, I recommend you try matcha green tea at the tea house. With a strong sharp taste, matcha does not only wake you up, but also soothes you while viewing the bamboo garden. If you plan to have tea here, don’t forget to buy a ticket, along with the admission fee at the entrance.

On the compound of the temple, you will see several caves, which house stone lantern-like objects. They are typical tombs in Kamakura during the Kamakura period. The land around here is not flat (actually it was the reason for being chosen as the capital), and there was not enough space to place tombs, so people dug those alcoves in the wall of bare rock, then put them in. They are important remains in Kamakura, and you can see some more at another temples as well.

The temple is a bit far from the centre of Kamakura, which is about 2 kilometers from Kamakura station, however if you are a good walker, it would be nice to walk through the residential area when it’s sunny. Also you can use a bus from the station.

A few tips for you: Visiting the temple in the morning is highly recommended, as the landscape of the bamboo looks stunning with the morning sunlight. Also there are fewer people early in the morning, you can appreciate the atmosphere more in a relaxing mood. Moreover, if you are a tourist on a holiday without needing to think about work, I strongly recommend you plan to go there during the weekdays, as weekends are awfully crowded with lots of fans of this garden, and you might not be able to enjoy the sound of silence.

The bamboos here are the first thing to see, but if you take a careful look in the garden, you will notice mosses are also nicely playing a part to decorate the whole landscape. It’s said that there are 10 different kinds of mosses. Moss is called “Koke” in Japanese, and in Kyoto, there is even a temple called “Koke-dera Temple”, which literally means moss temple, which features moss obviously. Koke has been used lot in Japanese garden and Bonsai as a part of Japanese esthetic element.

Opening hours: 9:00-16:00 (Tea house: 9:00-15:30 / Price: ¥500 (JPY))
Closed: 29 Dec to 3 Jan
Price: ¥200 (JPY)

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