Spend the Night at a Temple! 5 Recommended Shukubo in the Tokyo Area
The term "shukubo" refers to accommodation facilities for visitors within a shrine or a temple. Only by staying in a shukubo can you experience the daily life of a monk undergoing Buddhism training, such as zen meditation, scripture writing, and eating vegetarian meals. Here are 5 temples in the Tokyo area that have shukubo.
1. Kenchoji (Kanagawa)
Official Name: Daihonzan Kofukusan Kenchoji
Said to be the oldest Zen training monastery in Japan, Kenchoji in Kamakura is home to many important cultural properties, such as the Bonsho (temple bell), which is a national treasure. Twice a year at this temple, visitors may participate in an overnight Zazen session (seated Zen meditation in a certain posture in order to improve concentration). Over a period of 1 night and 2 days, participants can experience certain aspects of Buddhism training, such as Zazen, Samu (cleaning of the temple as part of training), and vegan meals. While irregular, English Zazen sessions are also available, so visitors who might want to experience Zazen without staying overnight should check the official homepage for more details. Why don't you try to spend a day away from all your daily worries and do some self-reflection in a calm and peaceful environment?
Overnight Zazen Session Rates: Adults 6,700 JPY/person, Students 4,700 JPY/person (incl. accommodation, meals, insurance and tax)
※An admission fee (300 JPY) will be charged for normal entry.
2. Seichoji (Chiba)
Official Name: Daihonzan Seichoji
Seichoji, located near the peak of Mt. Kiyosumi, is said to have been constructed in the year 771. It is famous as a monastery where Nichiren priests went to for training. You can spend the night in this temple and have a taste of vegetarian food or copy some Buddhist scriptures, among other things. There are various attractions within its spacious grounds as well, such as the Sennen Sugi (Thousand Year-Old Cedar), which is approximately 800 years old, or the Hoshi no Ido (Well of The Stars), which has been in use for over a thousand years. Asahigamori Hill within the temple grounds is also a well-known scenic location, and it is said that you can enjoy the view of the earliest sunrise in Japan over here.
Shukubo Rates: Adults 8,800 JPY/person (1 night, 2 meals）
Scripture Writing: 500 JPY～
Vegetarian Meal: 1,620 JPY～
※Please make a booking at least 1 week in advance.
3. Taiyoji (Saitama)
Located deep within a mountain 800 meters above sea level in Chichibu, Taiyoji is also referred to as the "Temple in The Sky." Surrounded by pristine nature, it would not be inappropriate to say that this place is part of the Wild Unknown. At Taiyoji, guests can experience the morning otsutome (scripture chanting), scripture writing, sermon, Zazen, and vegetarian meals. Taiyoji is good for shukubo newcomers, as attendance of morning scripture reading is voluntary and the schedule is not as tight as other places. You could also relax in the open-air bath, which was handmade by the head priest, and forget your daily worries as you look up into the starry night sky.
Shukubo Rates: starting at 9,000 JPY/person (1 night, 2 meals)※Reservations only
4. Shogakuji (Saitama)
Official Name: Sotozenshu Fukuozan Shogakuji
Shogakuji, which was built in 1483, is surrounded by mountains filled with natural beauty in Hanno. This temple has an overnight Zazen program, where visitors can experience Zazen, scripture chanting, scripture copying (for an extra fee), listen to sermons, and have a taste of vegetarian food made with seasonal ingredients. These experiences can only be had in a temple. Do take note that some time in the schedule has been allotted for Samu!
Overnight Zazen Program Rates: 7,000 JPY/person (incl. tax) (1 night, 2 meals) ※Please make a reservation at least 5 days in advance
Rate for copying a sutra and offering it to the temple: 1,000 JPY
※Picture is for the purpose of illustration only.
5. Saijoji (Kanagawa)
Official Name: Sotoshu Daiyuzan Saijoji
Saijoji, located in Minamiashigara in west Kanagawa, has approximately 600 years' worth of history. This temple is known for its tengu (a living thing that is hailed as a deity/yokai in Japanese legend), and the spacious grounds are decorated with varying sizes of takageta (tall wooden Japanese clogs) that are believed to be worn by tengu. A long flight of stone steps await visitors from the main gate to the main shrine, and the beautiful solemn scenery of the surrounding cedar trees, selected as one of Kanagawa's top 50 sights, is also a charm in itself. You can experience Zazen, listen to sermons, copy scriptures, or even spend the night and have a taste of the monks' vegetarian food (each item charged separately).
Zazen: 10,000 JPY/person for groups of 20 people or less, an additional 500 JPY/person for groups of over 20 people
Sermon: 10,000 JPY/person for groups of 20 people or less, an additional 500 JPY/person for groups of over 20 people
Scripture Copying: 1,500 JPY/person ※for groups of 10 and above
Sanro (staying overnight)： 5,000 JPY (1 night, 2 meals) ※for groups of 10 and above, please make a reservation at least 1 month in advance.
Did you like these temples and what they have to offer? At a shukubo, you can have a unique experience while cleansing your heart and refreshing your mind and body. While different from usual sightseeing, why don't you try and appreciate this valuable 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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