Hokokuji Temple – Kamakura

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Hokokuji Temple

Hokokuji Temple is a Buddhist Temple in Kamakura. It is probably most famous for its bamboo garden.

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Torii Gate

Once you enter through the torii, there is a small narrow path leading you past some statues and a small bamboo water feature.

The temple and grounds are somewhat small.  There are small stone statues adorning the courtyard area in front of the temple.

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Courtyard

Past the temple is another smaller courtyard with a tree and a very small rock “garden”.

Beyond that, is Hokokuji most famous feature, the bamboo forest.

Through the thicket of bamboo lies a small tea house where, for a small fee, you can enjoy a glass a matcha while contemplating life and enjoying the view of the bamboo forest.

After leaving the tea house, the trail leads through more bamboo and onto another garden.

This garden peers out to three small caves, which are inaccessible to visitors.

The path then leads to a tranquil rock Zen garden.

Hokokuji is quite far away from Kamakura station, and the other main sites that I visited. It was somewhat disappointing in that I was expecting the bamboo forest and grounds to be a lot larger.

If not pressed for time however, I would recommend a visit as the grounds are very calming, relaxing and beautiful.

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Hasedera Temple – Kamaura, Japan

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Hasedera Temple
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Hasedera Entrance

The Hasedera Temple in Kamakura is a large Buddhist Temple. From the outside, it doesn’t really look like much, but the grounds are expansive and impressive.

As you enter the grounds there is a small pond and garden.

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Chozuya

Next to the pond is the chozuya, where you wash your hands and mouth.

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Smiling Statues
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Smiling Statues

The temple grounds contain a lot of stairs, which are pretty steep at times. On the first level, are perhaps the most iconic statues of Hasedera, three little smiling statues.

Further down the path are more statues.

There is a small bamboo forest, along with a small Zen garden.

Temples are also located close to the Zen garden, which are very impressive.

There is a small torii gate, and there is also a small area for ema to be placed.

Once back down the stairs and to the right of the entrance, is a larger Zen garden, which is very beautiful and peaceful.

One of the most unique features of Hasedera is a cave that contains many figures.

After exiting the cave there is a larger area to place ema.

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Further down, there is a larger smiling statue like the smaller figures up on the hill.

I think Hasedera Temple is a definite must when visiting Kamakura. You can easily spend a few hours there, as time just seems to fly by when visiting.

Kotoku-in Temple, Kamakura, Japan

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Kook-in Temple

The Kotoku-in Temple in Kamakura is home to “The Great Buddha”, which stands over 40 feet tall. The Buddha is hollow inside, and you can tour the inside for about 20 cents.

The Great Buddha was originally made of wood, and was completed in 1243. A storm damaged the Buddha and the hall in 1248. The wooden Buddha was then replaced with a bronze statue that was completed in 1252. The hall housing the statue was damaged or destroyed on several other occasions, the last being in during a tsunami in 1948.

Since that time, The Great Buddha has been sitting outdoors.

There is a small garden area in front of the temple, which is surrounded by residences, as well as the main street with shops and restaurants.

There are two figures “guarding” the entrance to the temple.

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Chozuya

Past the two figures, the familiar sight of the chozuya welcomes you.

There is a small tree garden located to the left, in which most of the trees were donated by the former Thai king.

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The Great Buddha
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The Great Buddha

The Great Buddha sits in a large courtyard, where he sits peacefully in a zen-like state. The statue is both imposing and calming at the same time.

As previously mentioned, you can see the indoors of the Buddha by paying about 20 cents. There has been lots of graffiti and thefts inside of the Buddha over the years. The interior of the statue is currently undergoing restorations.

The walls of the courtyard holds various pictures and tells the history of Kotoku-in Temple, as well as the history of the Buddha. The things that stood out most, was a visit by the Dalai Lama, and Buddha’s slippers.

Past the rear courtyard wall is a small area which holds a small temple and garden.

 

Any trip to Kamakura is almost incomplete without coming to Kotoku-in Temple and The Great Buddha.

Zeniarai Benten Ugafuku Shrine – Kamakura, Japan

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Money Instructions

The Zeniarai Benten Ugafuku Shrine is a very popular shrine in Kamakura for one special reason. It is believed that if you wash your money in the shrines water, your money will double.

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Street Signs

After leaving the Starbucks Kamakura Onarimachi, I turned right and followed the signs. Unfortunately, either the signs are very wrong or I took a very circuitous route in getting to the shrine despite following the signs. Instead of being 800 meters away, I probably walked over a mile, which is all uphill.

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Entrance Stone

There are no signs in English announcing the shrine. Instead, look for this large stone structure which sits to the left of the entrance tunnel to the shrine.

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Tunnel Entrance

Next to the large stone, sits the opening to a short tunnel that will lead you to the shrines grounds.

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Chozuya

Once you exit the tunnel, the chozuya is located to the right. This is where you purify yourself before entering the by cleaning your hands and mouth, along with the ladle.

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Torii
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Torii

Next are the torii, or the shrines gates.

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Shrine

There is a small shrine located to the right.

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Shrine
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Waterfall

Further to the right is another shrine, along with a small waterfall.

There is a small open courtyard, in which ema, little wooden plaques where you write down your wishes, hang.

The main attraction Zeniarai Benten Ugafuku Shrine are the magical waters to wash your money.

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Cave Entrance

This waters are located in a small cave-like structure, which is actually fairly large.

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Basket Rental

Before entering the cave you can rent a basket for ¥100.

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Money Washing

I’m not sure if your money will double after washing it at Zeniarai Benten Ugafuku Shrine, but you will certainly get a good workout.

Starbucks Kamakura Onarimachi – Kamakura, Japan

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Starbucks Kamakura Onarimachi

I know what you’re thinking. Why is a visit to Starbucks so special? Well, the Starbucks Kamakura Onarimachi used to be the home of Ryuichi Yokoyama, a cartoonist and manga artist. There are even works of his art hanging on the walls, but they do take some time to locate.

This Starbucks has lots of wood and glass, along with very high ceilings.

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Seating

The tables are fairly spread out, which is more of an anomaly these days.

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“Coffee Bar”
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“Coffee Bar”

There is also a “coffee bar” of sorts in the middle of the store, however nobody was working there during my visit. Perhaps when it is very crowded.

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Veranda/Deck

There is a large plate glass window in the back that overlooks the veranda/deck.

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Pool

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of this Starbucks is the outdoor pool.

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Bathroom
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Bathroom

And as you would expect while in Japan, there is the famous “Japanese” toilet in the bathroom.

Crazy Layover at Haneda Airport – Tokyo

Following my flight from Jakarta, I had a layover in Tokyo for roughly 15 hours. Since my flight was landing at Haneda instead of Narita airport, I decided to do something different on my layover and go to Kamakura and Yokohoma instead of Tokyo. As I had another trip planned almost two weeks later that landed at Narita, I decided to do more exploring in Tokyo on that layover.

The following is the list of places I visited, and will have a more in-depth post about each:

1. Starbucks Kamakura Onarimachi
2. Zeniarai Benten Ugafuku Shrine
3. Kotokuin Temple – The Great Buddha
4. Random croquette stand
5. Hasedera
6. Kamakura Matsubara-an
7. Hokokuji Temple
8. Kikuya Bakery
9. Leonard’s Bakery
10. Rokurinsha – Haneda
11. ANA Lounge – Haneda airport

Here are a few pictures of my adventure.

Istiqlal Mosque – Jakarta

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Istiqlal Mosque

The Istiqlal Mosque is the largest in Southeast Asia, which is not too surprising considering Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. Istiqlal is located across the street from the Jakarta Cathedral and close to MONAS.

The mosque opened in 1978, and is open to the public for tours. On my tour, I was told that part of the reason why Istiqlal is located so close to the Jakarta Cathedral is that they wanted to demonstrate that Muslims could get along with other religions.

From the outside, I could never really get a good picture, but you can tell that it is an imposing structure.

The mosque is six stories high, and is separated into a men’s and women’s prayer section. Prayer can be performed both indoors and outdoors.

I do think it’s worth a visit when in Jakarta.