Kyoto temple stay

Posted on February 12, 2013 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments


Myoshinji temple complex, the head temple of Rinzai Zen Buddhism


A few years ago, I stayed at a Buddhist temple in South Korea and it was one of the most spiritually rewarding experiences that I could not forget. Since then, I have been wanting to stay at a Japanese zen Buddhist temple because of my interest in Zen Buddhism.

There are only a few temples where foreigners could stay in Kyoto and Shunkoin temple is one of them. The temple is a sub-temple within the Myoshinji temple complex, it offers reasonably-priced accommodation, where guests can also join the daily meditation class and tour in the morning at a reduced rate.

Unlike my previous experience in Korea where I had to get up at 4am to climb up to a hill-top temple for the mediation and chanting session, the mediation class at this temple is much more relaxed and casual. The meditation classes are catered more for complete beginners, but I was glad to pick up tips and advice from the US-educated neurologist and Reverend Taka Kawakami, and to meditate in such a peaceful setting. After the class and tour, we were also offered green tea and sweet, and got to know other guests who were all from different parts of the world.


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The temple houses many treasures such as The Bell of Nanban-ji ( over 400 years old), Confucius-influenced sliding door panels by well-known painter, Kano Eigaku, and The Garden of Boulders, a rock garden that represents the islands of Ise Bay.

It was also particularly interesting to learn that the internationally renowned Zen author D. T. Suzuki was a frequent guest at the temple, where he used to discuss Zen Buddhism and philosophy with Dr. Hisamatsu who resided at the temple between 1943 and 1949.


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Exterior of the accommodation and the kitchen/ common area


The newly-renovated accommodation building is clean and functional, and has a kitchen/ common area where guests can prepare simple meals and hot drinks. The tatami room itself is quite minimal but has a desk, a chair, air-conditioning unit, private toilet and shower, as well as free wi-fi. I was very satisfied with the amenities as I realised that there was nothing more that I needed apart from the basics.


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On the last day of my stay, I took the opportunity to explore other parts of Myoshinji, and I stumbled upon a guided tour to the Hatto/ Dharma Hall and an ancient bathhouse ( see above). Inside the hall, I saw ( and heard the recording of) the oldest bell in Japan made in 698 and a magnificent ceiling painting of a dragon, which appears almost three-dimensional and looks different from every angle.

Although Myoshinji is not in the centre of Kyoto, it is close to many famous World heritage sites like Ryoanji ( which also belongs to Myoshinji) and Ninnaji, so with a bike that I borrowed ( free of charge) from the temple, I was able to cycle and explore the area and avoided the crowds in the city centre, which for me was the perfect getaway.


To be continued...


This post was posted in Travel, Buddhism & meditation, Anything Japanese, Kyoto, Japan and was tagged with meditation, Buddhism, Kyoto, temples, Japan