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Japanese Buddhism, Photo Dictionary of Japan's Shinto and Buddhist DivinitiesRETURN TO TOP PAGE of Japanese Buddhist Statuary A to Z Photo Library & Dictionary of Gods, Goddesses, Shinto Kami, Creatures, and DemonsCopyright and Usage PoliciesJump to Sister Store Selling Handcrafted Buddha Statues from China, Japan, and Asia
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This is a Side Page.
Return to Main Menu on Temple Lodging in Japan

Japan Directory
Guide to Japanese Temple  Accommodation

This web site, along with BuddhaNet (creator of this page), assume no liability for your dealings with the lodges presented herein. Prices may vary from those listed. These pages no longer appear at BuddhaNet, and are offered here only as a convenience to readers. Return to Main Menu on Temple Lodging in Japan.

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Guide to Japanese Temple Lodging. Japanese temples, like some churches and  monasteries in other countries, have a long tradition of taking in  overnight guests. In the past these people were generally connected to  the temple - they included itinerant monks, journeying scholars,  pilgrims. But since the war rising costs have forced many temples to  seek novel ways of raising funds to maintain their buildings. More and  more temples are now opening their premises to members of the public  regardless of religious affiliation. In Japan these are normally  referred to as shukubo.

Some of these temples are associated with  the Japan Minshuku Association, a group of family inns. Over eighty  shrines and temples are affiliated with the youth hostel movement, and  are listed in the annual handbook (partly in English). Other Japanese  guidebooks have listed up to four hundred temples and shrines in ever  part of the country which offer accommodation.

In most cases they are cheaper than hotels  and can offer the foreign visitor an exotic experience in large,  ancient, wooden beamed rooms, sometimes containing Buddhist antiques  and overlooking a picturesque garden. At some temples overnight guests  are allowed to join the morning sutra and prayer service. In a few  cases this is compulsory.

Nevertheless, temple accommodations are  mainly for the adventurous. Some people will not find the spartan  conditions to their liking. Often the guest rooms are antiquated and  dirty, with few facilities. The bedroom may be large, but you can find  yourself separated from a group of noisy students in the next room by  just a thin, unlocked, sliding paper door. If the temple is crowded  you may be expected to share your room with strangers. Do not expect  any security. There will probably be no locks on the door and no front  desk at which to deposit your valuables.

Everything will be Japanese style. This  means guests may have to lay out their own futon mattress and quilt at  night and fold them up again next morning. The toilets will be  Japanese style, and the bath, if it exists, a communal one, perhaps  even shared with the priest’s family. Do not expect a  television.

Most temples have an evening curfew of  about 9.00 pm, and guests will probably be woken at around 7.00 am or  earlier. Some places do not allow smoking or alcohol. All meals will  be vegetarian.

Basically, you are expected to behave as if  you are a guest in someone’s home (no matter how much the fee). Do not  expect anyone at the temple to speak or understand English, and if you  are unable to make yourself understood in Japanese you may be refused  admission.

Reservations should be made in advance,  preferably by mail, but telephone reservations are usually accepted.  You may not be welcomed if you turn up without a booking. The temples  and shrines that are listed in the youth hostels' handbook could be  considered an exception to this rule, although even there, most  Japanese will book in advance. And some temples which are listed as  accepting guests in fact take only women. Finally, do not expect all  temples to be old and exotic. Some look little different from modern  office blocks.

The Tourist Information Centres in Tokyo  and Kyoto can give up up-to-date lists of temples where foreigners  have stayed. Expect to pay ¥2,000 to ¥4,500 per night and up, sometimes with  meals, usually without.

Zen  Guide - Where to Meditate in Japan, by Martin Roth and John  Stevens.
Published by John Weatherill Inc.  (1985) 

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