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Japanese style bamboo garden, Houkokuji Temple

The history of Houkokuji Temple

The history of Houkokuji Temple

This temple is well known for its bamboo garden, called Take-dera (take means bamboo, and dera means temple).  It is said that this Rinzai Zen sect temple was built by Ietoki, the grandfather of Takauji Ashikaga, at the beginning of the Ashikaga reign.  Some also say it was built by Shigekane Uesugi.  It is the family temple for both Ashikaga and Uesugi families, and the yagura in the mountainside at the back of the grounds is the tomb for the Ashikaga family. Yagura are horizontal cave tombs, unique to Kamakura.  People could not make tombs on the land since Kamakura had limited ground space, so these cave-style tombs became popular.  People who cremated in yagura included samurai or high-ranking priests.

The simple garden with stone lanterns and stone Buddhas

The simple garden with stone lanterns and stone Buddhas

The garden is very simply laid out.  You will see only a few stone lanterns and stone Buddha statues in the bamboo grove. This simplicity is the ultimate taste of Japanese style.  It is said that the moso bamboo was brought from Kyoto.

It is beautiful all year round, but highly recommended on hot summer days, or after the rain.  Waking in the bamboo grove on a hot summer day is a wonderful experience, cooling you down while relaxing to the sound of dry rustling leaves.  And just after a heavy rainfall is the most beautiful moment of the bamboo grove.

Have matcha green tea at the Kyuko-an teahouse

Have matcha green tea at the Kyuko-an teahouse

The Kyuko-an is located in the corner of the garden. When paying the admission fee at the entrance, you can also request matcha at the teahouse for an additional 500 yen. Take the ticket you receive to the teahouse in the garden. Drinking the matcha while gazing out over the rustling grove is quite soothing.

Stone garden

Stone garden

The fame of the bamboo garden of Houkokuji Temple often overshadows the lovely small Zen style stone garden in the back of the grounds. It is very relaxing to sit on the benches provided on the garden's edge and gaze at the garden.

Information

Address: 2-7-4 Jomyoji, Kamakura City
Phone: 0467-22-0762
Access:  Take a Keikyu bus bound for “Kamakura Reien Seimon-mae Tachiarai” from the number 5 bus stop at JR Kamakura station's East Exit.  Get off at “Jomyoji”, and walk 3 minutes.
Map : Access
Official Website: Hokokuji Temple Website

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