Hokokuji Temple (報国寺)
Take from JR Tokyo to Kamakura station. You can choose to either walk for 30min to Hokokuji Temple or get bus 23 and drop off at Jomyoji (浄妙寺) stop.
For the longest time I have wanted to immerse myself in a calming bamboo garden in Japan and I was really glad to have found one near Tokyo that is located in the town of Kamakura. Knowing that this is pretty near to the Buddha temple, though in opposite directions from Kamakura station, I made it a point to visit it on the same day.
Upon entering the temple, you would be greeted by perhaps the most quaint and sedative environment that allows you to unwind easily from whatever troubles or anxieties that you may be experiencing. And if you would like to visit the bamboo garden which is usually the intention of most, then you have to purchase for a ticket that costs 600 yen. Top up a 100 yen more and you will be able to enjoy a bowl of thick bitter matcha with a direct view of the peaceful bamboo garden.
These huge bamboos have one of the thickest girths that I have ever seen. Standing really tall and commanding, it is no wonder that most would raise their heads up to appreciate these bamboos in awe. Looking pretty and poised on a sunny day, I could imagine it turning into an enigma when it gets shrouded in heavy fog on a rainy day.
And that’s the matcha that you could enjoy with a top up of 100 yen while having an unobstructed view of the bamboo garden. A bowl of really thick bitter matcha with two exquisite sweets at the side. I would recommend you to put one of the sweets into your mouth while drinking the bowl of matcha as the residual sweetness from the sweets would elevate the taste of the green tea.
Simple yet alluring, this is basically the impression that hokokuji has left on me. Not exactly a huge bamboo garden and yet still able to capture the hearts of many (tourists and locals alike), it indeed is a place worth visiting if you are in the area of Kamakura!