Tips for Going to the Bamboo Forest:
We were staying near Kawagoe in Saitama (further North), which is about an hour away from Tokyo. This meant the drive for us was just under 4 hours, as we decided not to use toll roads.
When you road trip around Japan, you begin to realise that tolls are not great for the pocket. You end up spending silly money, to only get stuck in slow moving traffic when you pass through Tokyo. The annoying thing about driving around Japan is the many traffic lights they have. I always thought the UK had too many, but since going over there, it has definitely changed my mind. You would literally drive a few yards, and you get faced with another red light. Here are a few tips I’d recommend…
- If you’re in a rush to fit as many activities in, I would recommend toll roads, so you don’t get stuck at every traffic light. However, be prepared to be stuck in slow moving traffic when you pass through Tokyo!
- Get up very early to start your journey. We made this mistake of setting off after 11am, and didn’t get there until 3pm.
- Pack a lunch in the car – you’re going to need it! Kamakura is essentially in the middle of nowhere, so you better speak some good Japanese to order in their restaurants!
- The earlier you get there, the less people will be invading your pictures (you’ve got to do it for the ‘gram after all!)
- When you get to the Hōkoku-ji Temple, make sure you park a little further out. This means you can avoid paying extortionate car park fees. We parked about a 10-minute walk from the Temple, and it only costed us £4 for up to 2 hours.
Was It Worth the 8-Hour Trip in Total?
I’ll be really honest, the Bamboo Forest is probably much more impressive in Kyoto. The only thing that was disappointing was the size of the forest in Kamakura. I thought it’d be slightly bigger, but I still managed to get some great pictures and video footage!
Entry into the Temple was a reasonable price too, I believe it would be the equivalent of about £3-4. You can also do a ‘Tea Ceremony’, which you can pay a little extra to take part in. But, we opted not to do this, as we only had one hour there before they closed.
I would definitely advise going to this Temple if you don’t plan to go to Kyoto. This means you still get to appreciate the native flora. I believe it was highly worth the 8-hour journey, as you wouldn’t find such a forest in the UK!
Whilst you’re in Kamakura, I’d recommend visiting the Daibutsu (Big Buddha)! You can read more on my ‘Top 10 Thing to Do in Japan’. It’s home to the famous Buddha monument that you see on many Japan travel guides. I also suggest visiting the Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Shrine, which was also absolutely stunning, and based in Kamakura.
Part 2 is on the way…
If you were wondering whether to visit the Bamboo Forest, I hope I gave you some useful tips! If you’re planning to go to Japan, I would definitely add this to your itinerary!
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