Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Hokokuji Temple & Bamboo Grove Garden at Kamakura

When I was planning my Japan trip, I wanted to visit a peaceful and relaxing place with nature to clear my mind, body, and soul from all the stress I was going through in the last 3 years. I didn't want to go too far outside of Tokyo since I mainly wanted to stay in Tokyo. So I thought why not visit the Hokokuji Temple with the bamboo grove garden in Kamakura. I have seen a few videos on youtube about this garden and it looks absolutely stunning and beautiful. Although probably not as beautiful as the Arashiyama bamboo forest in Kyoto. In comparison to the one in Kyoto, it is a lot smaller but it is definitely less crowded so you can really enjoy nature in peace. 

Hokoku-ji is a small Zen temple in Kamakura (鎌倉) with a bamboo grove garden of more than 2,000 moso bamboos.

There are different ways you can get to Kamakura from Tokyo and it's about an hour away by train. I took the Yokosuka Line to Kamakura station. At the station, there are lots of exit sign with pictures that direct you which exit to take to where you want to go so you won't have to worry about getting lost. There are actually many temples you can visit in Kamakura including the Kotokuin Temple with the Great Buddha statue which is one of the most famous and popular tourist spots in Kamakura. 

And right outside of the station, you will find a tourist map of Kamakura that shows you all of the temples and where they are located including which bus stop to board at to get to your destination. To get to Hokokuji Temple, you take the #5 bus at the bus stop terminal. 

Near the tourist map of Kamakura, there is also a clock tower and even free wifi service you can connect to in case you need to use google map, very convenient!

To get to the bus stop terminal, you have to walk pass behind the tourist map of Kamakura through this little tunnel way. I saw some Japanese kids on a school trip walking underneath the tunnel holding hands and it is such a cute sight to see that I couldn't resist not to take a picture, lol. Japanese kids are the cutest!

After you pass through the tunnel, you will then come across this kimono rental place called VASARA. If you would like to go all out for a traditional experience, you can rent a kimono nearby Kamakura station to take photos at the Hokokuji Temple. I saw a few Japanese people at the bamboo grove garden dressed in really cute kimonos and it kind of made me wanted to wear one too. 

Then when you get close to the bus stop boarding terminal, you'll also come across this super cute restaurant called Fujiya Restaurant with two adorable dolls at the top. SO CUTE!!!

And right next to the restaurant is the gate to the Komachi Dori shopping street that sells traditional Japanese goods and food. There is even a Ghibli Studio store on the right corner of the main entrance of the shopping street too! 

Finally arriving at the bus stop boarding terminal.

And then you can find your way to the bus stop for boarding bus #5 and get off at Jomyoji bus stop (浄明寺). It's about a 10 minute bus ride. 

Jomyoji bus stop (浄明寺). You can board at this bus stop again when you are done visiting the Hokokuji Temple and the bus will take you back to the bus terminal near Kamakura station. 

I love these little Japanese side streets that look like the ones you see from anime and Japanese movies! 

And along the way, you can actually spot the bamboo trees up on the mountain hill. 

The front gate entrance to Hokokuji Temple. 

After you enter through the gate entrance, there is a small walkway with a lot of green nature and statues and even a pretty small bamboo waterfall pond. The scenery is so green and peaceful and it reminds me of those beautiful gardens you see in an anime movie. 

The Hokokuji Temple and a traditional Japanese bell that you often see at most temples.

And right next to the temple is where you can purchase your ticket to visit the bamboo grove garden. It cost 200 yen for the admission fee and an additional 500 yen if you want tea service at the traditional tea house where you get to drink powder matcha tea while viewing the bamboo trees. There is also notice board with some rules about the walking around in the bamboo groove garden. You are not allowed to eat inside there and there is strictly no use of any type of camera pods (including monopod, tripod, or selfie stick) Although I did see a few people using selfie sticks to take pictures. I also got the tea service and even the ticket is so fancy and beautiful!

Entering in to the traditional tea house. There is even a sink with soap for you to wash your hands before you drink the tea, how thoughtful! And after you wash your hands, you can go down to the tea house reception at the back where you give them your tea ticket (green sheet) and they will call you once your tea is ready. 

There is an open space area with some wooden seats where you can sit and relax while drinking some matcha tea and view the bamboo trees right in front of you. It is simply a beautiful and calming relaxing view to clear your mind while looking at the bamboo trees and and all the green nature view.

Time to drink my matcha tea! They also give you 2 pieces of candy and I was told that you eat the candies first and then drink your tea.

The weather was perfect on the day when I visited the temple and bamboo grove garden. Although I kind of planned it all out and picked to go on a beautiful sunny day! There is a certain calmness that you can feel from the soothing sounds of the grove with the bamboo leaves gently rustling as the wind blows them and you can even hear birds chirping from a distance. If you close your eyes and listen to the soothing sounds of the grove of the bamboos, it almost feels like you're in another world! 

I also came across a couple doing an engagement photoshoot at the bamboo grove garden and they have 2 professional photographers following them around. However, they got approached and stopped by a staff who works there saying that they need a permission permit to do a photoshoot there. But then by the time they were discovered, they were already near the end of their photoshoot so luckily it all worked out for them.

I also spotted a few rare flower trees near where the couple was doing a photoshoot, and as a flower loving person, I had to snap a picture, lol.

There is even a small (koi) fish pond in the garden. Although it was blocked and off limits so I zoomed in with my camera to get a few shots of the koi fish. 

When I went back to the bus stop terminal, I went to check out the Ghili Studio shop at the Komachi Dori shopping street. I will do a separate post on it next, so stay tuned! 

Also nearby at Kamakura station, there is an ice cream shop that sells all matcha flavoured ice cream. I didn't get to try it because it was quite cold that day and I didn't want to get sick from eating cold ice cream. 

Instead I bought a bag of small 8 taiyaki (fish pancakes) at this shop that was right next to the station but I forgot to take a picture of them before I ate them all, lol. I got one of each flavour and my favourite was the sweet potato and caramel! 

Overall, I had a great time and visit at the Hokokuji Temple and the bamboo grove garden. I am really glad that I went as it really helped to soothe my mind, body, and soul and I'd definitely want to go back to visit for a 2nd time! I also would like to go back to shop around at the Komachi Dori street as I didn't get to do so during my visit because I had plans to head back to Tokyo to visit other places. I hope you like what I shared in this post and find it informative and that it inspires you to want to visit there too. Below is more information about the temple as well as their official website in English where you can learn more about the temple. 

Address: 2-7-4 Jomyoji, Kamakura, Kanagawa
Opening hours: 9am-4pm
Admission fee: 200 yen and 500 yen for matcha
Official website: http://www.houkokuji.or.jp/english.html

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