Hōkoku-ji (報国寺) is one of the Zen temples in Kamakura that belong to Kenchō-ji Temple of the Rinzai sect. It is located along Kamakura Road close to Sugimoto-dera, just across the Nameri River, and famous for its idyllic bamboo garden. It is also known as "Bamboo Temple" (竹の寺).

Hōkoku-ji was founded in 1334 by the priest Tengan Ekō (天岸慧広) to commemorate Ashikaga Ietoki (足利家時), a descendant in the 7th generation of Minamoto no Yoshiie and grandfather of Takauji, the founder of the Ashikaga shogunate.


Yakuimon (薬医門), the entrance to Hōkoku-ji. Yakuimon are gates with a gable roof constructed over two square or rectangular main posts and two square or circular secondary posts in the rear.

In its hondō (本堂, main hall) an image of Shaka-nyorai-zazō (釈迦如来坐像), the sitting Shakyamuni, is enshrined. The statue is said to be created by the famous Buddhist sculptor Takuma Hōgen and was designated an Important Cultural Property by the city of Kamakura. According to legend, Takuma lived in the vicinity of the temple; the district was therefore called Takumagayatsu.


The moss garden at Hōkoku-ji Temple

Several of Tengan's handwritten copies of Buddhist teachings, as well as his wooden seals, are exhibited in the Kamakura Museum on the grounds of Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū.


The hondō (本堂), the main hall, of Hōkoku-ji.



The bamboo grove at Hōkoku-ji consists of some 2,000 Mōsō bamboo, the largest species in Japan.



The Kyūkō-an (休耕庵) was a former annexe of the main hall where Tengan Ekō, posthumously known under his Buddhist name Butsujō Zenji, wrote poetry. Nowadays, it serves as a tea house where visitors can enjoy matcha and traditional Japanese sweets surrounded by the wonderfully tranquil bamboo grove.



The yagura hold the tombs of Ietoki, Yoshihisa and other members of the Ashikaga family. Hōkoku-ji was the family temple for both the Ashikaga and the Uesugi clans.




The Japanese rock garden (枯山水 karesansui) at Hōkoku-ji.


The beautiful bell tower with its thatched roof.

In 1923, the temple was destroyed in the Great Kantō earthquake but later rebuilt.

Access:

12 minutes by Keikyu bus or a 20-minute walk from JR Kamakura Station (Yokosuka Line, Shōnan–Shinjuku Line).
Address: 2-7-4 Jōmyōji, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0003; phone: 0467-22-0762.
Admission: open 09:00-16:00; 200 JPY (adults), 100 JPY (children).


References:

  • Baldessari, Francesco, Kamakura: A Historical Guide, 2016
  • Mutsu, Iso, Kamakura: Fact and Legend, Tuttle 2012

Links:


Map:


  • Like
Reactions: Hiroto Uehara