Secluded in the hills of eastern Kamakura, Hokokuji (報国寺, Hōkokuji) is a small temple of the Rinzai Sect of Zen Buddhism. Originally founded during the early years of the Muromachi Period, Hokokuji was the family temple of the ruling Ashikaga Clan and was later also adopted as the family temple of the Uesugi Clan.
Appearing rather unassuming as you arrive, the path to the temple leads past a relatively modest gate and through a small garden to the main hall, which was rebuilt in the 1920s after the original building had been lost in the Great Kanto Earthquake. The hall houses a statue of the historic Buddha (Shaka Nyorai), the temple's main object of worship. To the left of the main hall stands a unique looking bell tower with a simple, thatched straw roof, which was also a feature of the original main hall before it had burnt down.
Hokokuji Temple, however, is best known for the beautiful, small bamboo grove found behind the temple's main hall, which lies thick with over 2000 dark green bamboo stalks. A few narrow pathways lead through the bamboo to a tea house where, for a small fee, you can sit and enjoy a cup of matcha tea while enjoying views into the bamboo grove. Also located behind the temple are a series of shallow caves carved into the hillsides, which are believed to hold the ashes of some of the later Ashikaga lords.
Hokokuji Temple is a short walk from Jomyoji bus stop (浄明寺, 10 minutes, 200 yen one way from Kamakura Station by bus number 鎌23, 鎌24 or 鎌36). Alternatively, it can be reached on foot in about 30-40 minutes from Kamakura Station.