If you like traveling in Japan and prefer the atmosphere of a tranquil environment, then you should try staying at a temple which is known as “shukubo” lodging. It is an ideal option if you’ll be going on a pilgrimage or just wanting to tour around to get a better taste of the Buddhist or Shinto life. Temple lodgings are commonly private with beautiful Japanese traditional rooms and they follow a strict schedule so you have to be very keen on following it. Here are 4 shukubo lodgings you should try if you’re planning to have a simple and relaxing stay in the country while touring around.
Natadera Temple is located in the Ishikawa Prefecture of Japan. It was established in 717 by the monk Taicho and is a holy place for worshiping nature. The temple is surrounded by several formations of natural rocks and caves. These caves are believed to be the places of the cycle of death, purification, and rebirth.
A shukubo lodging known as Ikumo can be found on top of Mt. Engyo. It is a place that purifies and reincarnates both mind and body. It offers spectacular panoramic views of the Kaga Plain, Japan Sea, and the sacred Mt. Hakusan. Facilities here are advanced and eco-friendly and tries to maintain balance with nature. They serve “shojin ryouri” or Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. You can also experience quiet relaxation activities such as musical meditation and shakyo (copying sutra by hand) or attend a fire festival in the morning. Their outdoor bath can also be another way to attune more peace and quiet with your inner self.
Located in Okayama Prefecture, Saijo Inari Temple has been serving as a symbol of Japanese spirit and culture for more than 1,200 years. Up to this day, it continuously attracts many people from around the world. It is visited by approximately 3 million people every year who hope to receive luck and prosperity in their businesses and harvests.
Saijo Inari is also known as one of the three major Inari Shrines in Japan along with Fushimi Inari Taisha and Toyokawa Inari. On the first temple visit of the year, it is usually crowded with lots of people who would like to pray for peace and happiness in the coming year.
With such great history, Saijo Inari is one of the places ideal for a shukubo lodging (Kenmyokaku) experience. The meals at Kenmyokaku are served in kaiseki style which is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner perfect for a shukubo stay.
Located in Wakayama Prefecture, Hongakuin is a popular place for shukubo lodging with a history stretching over around 900 years. The lodging place consists of 57 guest rooms that are newly built, clean, and comfortable. It is also graced with 4 gardens as it is located in a quiet forest. Facilities include Western-style toilets and large communal baths.
The scenery from this place is absolutely gorgeous and it is accessible to the town where you can explore different historical things such as the Tokugawa Mausoleum. A traditional Buddhist vegetarian cuisine (shojin ryouri) is also offered to guests that will make their stay more peaceful and enjoyable.
Monjusenji Temple in Oita Prefecture is believed to have been founded in 648 which then continued to prosper into the Edo period. The principal idol of worship in this place is Monju Bodhisattva, also known as the “Mother of Wisdom.” It houses the largest ancestral prayer pagoda in Japan built by 13,800 people in a span of 10 years.
During clear days, you can see Yamaguchi and Ehime across the Seto Inland Sea from its stairs. Several stiff cliffs surround the temple, as well as cedar trees dating over 400 years ago.
Staying in the temple is a wonderful experience to have if you want to replenish your weary soul. Strict dietary restrictions are being followed so expect to have your meals the vegetarian way from locally grown fresh produce. You can also enjoy strolling around the temple grounds or performing meditations and a special fire prayer. Nowadays, people usually visit the place to pray for children’s health upon growing up or for luck in passing entrance examinations.
For that long-awaited soul-searching adventure of yours, why not visit these 4 places? Anyone can actually take advantage of this experience as it is something that eases the mind. You’ll also feel more relieved detaching yourself from the modern world by focusing more on your inner peace while connecting with religion. These places are surrounded by beautiful oasis so you’ll definitely be amazed at the stunning gardens and starry skies at night.