Temple Lodging in Japan

TEL 075-744-2408 including 2 meals 8,000 yen
Access "JR Kyoto station" > (bus) > "Oohara bus stop" > 10 minutes walk
Time Check-in 15:00 Check-out 10:00
Room 3 guest room , max 12 people

This is a shukubo of a small temple located on a mountain in Ohara. The day I stayed there, it was snowing so much that even the local people said, "It's been a long time since it snowed this much." It was a perfect occasion to see snow-covered Ohara and the surrounding mountains.

The room I stayed in was a 6 tatami mat room and equipped with a table with a heater underneath. A heating device was also provided, so I was able to stay warm even, in the severe cold. The room had a commanding garden view, but it was covered with snow, so, I was not able to see what sort of garden it was. However, a bell placed in a corner was cast by Masahiko Katori , a living national treasure and visitors are allowed to hit it freely. The clear sound of the bell was echoing over the snow-covered fields of Ohara and permeated into the sky.

The highly reputed shojin vegetarian cuisine won't betray your expectations. It is not only delicious but it is abundant in the variety of dishes. The cooked Yamatoimo potatoes seasoned with ginger served in a thick, sweet sauce is an excellent dish. Lily bulbs, shiitake mushrooms and green beans are enclosed inside the ground Yamatoimo potatoes and when you cut it with your chopsticks, the thick sauce is mixed with the ingredients inside. In order to taste this fully, it is recommended that you eat this dish first before it gets cool.

Also served were, shojin tempura (eggplant, green pepper and pumpkin), which goes well with salt, juicy Koya-tofu (freeze-dried tofu), boiled Nanohana greens, which are mildly hot and stimulate your appetite, dengaku of millet and artemisia gluten topped with two kinds of miso sauce, homemade sesame tofu, strips of radish with Japanese basil, delicately prepared sashimi style devil's tongue jelly and yuba (tofu skin), ginkgo nuts seasoned with salt and grilled imitation-eel that was the closest to the real thing that I have ever eaten. (Tofu and Yamato potatoes are deep-fried and seasoned with sweet soy sauce with sea laver on top so it looks similar to grilled eel.)

It is colorful and gorgeous in its appearance. So I didn't like them disappearing from the plates as I ate. I hear that they serve vegetables harvested in their own fields and mountain plants taken from the nearby mountains in summer.

Besides the gorgeous meals, I was able to experience shakyo (copying sutra by hand) after diner, followed by zazen the next morning.

To do shakyo, a sheet of paper is placed on the text sheet of Heart Sutra and you are to copy the characters one by one using a brush. Before I started, the assistant head priest explained the meaning of the sutra to me, so I was able to write letters with understanding. The secret of good shakyo is not to copy the shape of the characters on the text, but to write them in your own hand. Easier said than done and it did not go well for me. However, shakyo makes you face the characters seriously in a quiet night in Ohara, which certainly sharpens your concentration and the sense of achievement you feel when it is over is far more satisfying.

I practiced zazen the next morning. Before you start, slowly move your neck and body as warm-up exercises. You will receive instructions on how to sit and the breathing method to count your own breathing as well as how to receive keisaku (you are to be hit on your right and left shoulders three times each) before you actually start zazen. It was winter when I was there and the main hall was so cold that our breath looked white. In the midst of the coldness, my body and spirit straightened up. I think I was able to face my inner self in this zazen practice.

When the zazen was over, thoroughly soothe yourself from the palms to arms, body, face, thighs and toes to soften them. In the end, morning religious services are conducted in front of the principal image. While listening to the beautiful voice of the assistant head priest who annually participate in Seimei (sutra chanting with a certain rhythm) performances, I was able to spend a meaningful morning.


Sanzen-in, Zikko-in, Hosen-in, Raigo-in, Syorin-in, Zyakko-in, Otonashi-no-Taki(waterfall)

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