Hokokuji Temple in Kamakura is famous for having the most beautiful bamboo forest in Japan. This temple is also known as the "bamboo temple". Grandfather of Ashikaga Takauji, Ashikaga Ietoki, who is the first general of the Muromachi Shogunate, held a Zazenkai that can be attended to this day by beginners every Sunday morning at the temple of Rinzai school that was founded by him.
About Hokokuji Temple
As a family temple of the Ashikaga and Uesugi clan, Hokokuji Temple had a large site and prospered as a temple of Kamakura Gozan. But it was destroyed due to "Eikyō no Ran" in 1438, followed by the end of the Ashikaga Kobo. The main hall has the Sitting Buddha Statue and Kannon statue which were made during the Nanboku-chō period. It also has a desk that is said to be used by Yasunari Kawabata, the first Japanese person who won the Nobel Prize in literature for writing the novel "The Sound of the Mountain". (All are not exhibited)
Highlights of Hokokuji Temple
The highlight is a bamboo garden with about 1000 Moso bamboos that are about 25 meters high and have an orderly line. There are walkways dotted with Stone Buddhas in the garden, so let's have a walk and listen to the rustlings of leaves. In the bamboo forest, there is a tea shop "Kyukoan" where you can enjoy a set of Kyoto's Matcha and Rakugan (900 yen inclusive of admission fee). Moreover, you are recommended to visit the stone tower of Ashikaga clan behind the bamboo garden. It is carved with rocky surface of the hillside. (style of yokoana-shiki)
Another highlight are the flowers which bloom throughout the four seasons color the area, making for great photo opportunities. Yoshino cherry blooms on both sides of the stone steps leading up to the main hall bloom from late March to early April. Large ginkgo which are near the bell tower are also worth seeing from the end of November to early December.
Zazenkai of Hokokuji Temple
Hokokuji Temple holds a Zazenkai every Sunday from 7:30 to 10:30 in Kajodo. Beginners are given guidance politely during the historic Zazenkai which started in 1959. Participation fee is by Shino and no advance reservation is required. Even beginners can learn the basics of Zazen. Just change into hakama (clothes) prepared by the temple and start Zazen. Guidance is given in Japanese only and please avoid gaudy clothes.
Access to Hokokuji Temple
Take the Keihin Kyuko Bus (12 minutes) bound for Kamakura Reien Seimon Mae Tachiarai / Highland at JR "Kamakura" station. Get off at Jomyoji bus stop and walk for about 3 minutes.
- Spot name: Hokokuji Temple
- Street Address: 2-7-4 Jomyoji, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0003
- Ticket: 300 yen; 600 yen inclusive of Macha with Higashi
- Opening time: 9:00 ~ 16:00 (Matcha order is accepted until 15:30)
- Closing days: 12/29 ~ 1/3