Shukubo are lodging facilities inside shrines and temples. They were originally facilities for the monks, but in recent years they have been known as accommodations where tourists can stay and experience zazen meditation and vegetarian cuisine called shojin that follows the dietary restrictions of Buddhist monks. Don't you want to try staying there? Here are 5 recommended shukubo in Osaka.
1. Joko Enmanji Enmeikaku
This shukubo is just a 5 minute walk from Suita Station. It was built in 735 and is famous for holding memorials for fetuses that have passed away. Here the shukubo is called Enmeikaku. While you can stay in a calm Japanese-style room with tatami mat flooring, smoking inside and drinking alcohol in general is prohibited. The recommended activity at this temple is yoga. Before yoga, you greet the enshrined deity, then after the "otsutome," in which sutras are chanted, you practice genuine yoga. It's held at 8:00 pm on the first and third Fridays on every month, and after yoga on the first Friday, they hold events like Buddhist sermons and meisou meditation, so please check the schedule beforehand.
2. Inunakisan Shipporyuji Hakuunkaku
This temple was built surrounded by nature in 661 near the border between the southern part of Osaka and Wakayama. It's a famous episode opened by En no Gyoja as a place for Shugendo, a practice in which one secludes themselves in a mountain for ascetic practices for spiritual enlightenment. Many people from all around the country visit especially for the ascetic waterfall in which they can participate in "misogi," or the act of purifying oneself in water from a waterfall, river, ocean, etc. However, the only people that can participate in misogi are people who take the Inunakisan Nyutaki etiquette instruction course. First-timers can try participating in the one-day Shugendo experience held every third Sunday of the month. However, this is a sacred Shugendo area. Of course, getting under the waterfall without permission is forbidden. Actual Shugendo is very strict, with no conversations allowed and any injuries are your own responsibility. It's not something to undertake just out of interest. The shukubo at this temple is called Hakuunkaku.
*The one-day Shugendo experience is not held between December and February
3. Katsuoji Ochokaku
This temple in the northern area of the heart of Osaka was built in 727 and is famous for blessings regarding winning games or battles. You can stay at their shukubo called Ochokaku. The guestroom, surrounded by nature, is enveloped in silence that will calm your heart. Also, the big public bath is popular. Every third Sunday of the month at 6:00 am they have an early morning zazen meditation and rice gruel session, so if you're interested please wake up early and try it!
4. Taishakuji Hoseiden
This temple from the Asuka period (592-710) is just a little bit south of Katsuoji, and it was built by the famous Japanese politician Prince Shotoku. They have various activities you can try at the temple so it's very popular. If you stay at the shukubo called Hoseiden, you can also participate in activities including the meditation session held at 7:00 am every third Sunday of the month, the sutra-copying session at 2:00 pm every first Saturday of the month, and the blessing of the main temple by burning cedar sticks done every 8th of the month from 10:00 am - 11:00 am. You can also enjoy vegetarian Buddhist meals.
5. Senjuin Shinto Kaikan
This temple is about 45 minutes away by car from the center of Osaka. To go by train requires taking the JR Loop Line or the Yamatoji Line from Osaka Station for 40 minutes to Oji Station, switching to the Kintetsu Ikoma Line to Shigisanshita Station, then another 30 minutes in a taxi. It's the oldest temple on Mt. Shigi, and you can stay both in either the main building or the new building of the oldest shukubo on the mountain, Shinto Kaikan. There are various activities you can participate in, including the daily sutra copying at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, a weekly cedar-burning ritual on Sundays (canceled on rainy days), and a meditation session at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm every fourth Saturday of the month. They also have scripture readings and Buddhist holidays, so please check the website before going!
Shukubo are different from a hotel in that you can't just spend your time there any way you like. Please respect the proper etiquette and enjoy a special experience.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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