Soothe your soul in the sea of bamboo while sipping expertly prepared green tea.
Hokoku-ji is a Zen temple fondly referred to as the “Bamboo Forest.” Made up of over 2,000 Moso-bamboo trees, it inspires inner peace in a chaotic mind. As part of the your visiting experience, you can opt to have traditionally prepared matcha green tea.
Sipping on your tea and observing the breeze rustle through the bamboo will be sure to surely recharge your spiritual batteries.
Located in the seaside town of Kamakura, the temple is a little out of the way and requires a 10-minute bus trip to reach. The bamboo forest is densely packed, but rather small, making this a perfect stop if you have a busy itinerary. Along the way be sure to check out the money-multiplying Zeniari-Benten Shrine and the Great Buddha (Daibutsu).
As you enter through the temple gate, you’ll be greeted by a gently sloping path and an immaculate garden. Once you go through the entrance, catch a first glimpse at the towering bamboo forest. The path is clearly marked with arrows and there are whimsical stepping stones to guide your way. You’ll see a set of three caves to your right at the start of the path. These are the Yagura, caves that accommodate tombs of samurai and priests important to Kamakura.
Time for some green tea
About two thirds through the bamboo forest, you’ll find the “Kyukoan,” where the green tea is prepared. The tea is made by two monks, who, using a traditional bamboo utensil, whip the tea into a lively green froth. Feel free to take a seat at the counter and sip on your tea, mulling over life, the universe, and everything.
Inside the main building, you’ll find a seated statue of Shakyamuni Buddha.The statue and various other treasures of Hokoku-ji have been selected as cultural properties by the Japanese government. The temple also features a bell tower and a separate building dedicated to Zen meditation (which is held every morning).