Shukubo: Shunkoin Temple Lodging in Kyoto

Shukubos are originally lodgings for Buddhist monks that have recently became open for pilgrims and tourists.

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Have you ever wondered what's it like to stay in a Buddhist temple in Japan? Shukubos or temple lodges give us an opportunity to experience that and have a tiny glimpse of a monk's simple way of living. Shukubos are originally lodgings for Buddhist monks that have recently become open for pilgrims and tourists. 

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I have always been curious about temple lodges so I decided to spend a night at Shunkoin temple centrally located in the Myoshinji complex, northern Kyoto. The accommodation is really quite simple and nothing fancy. Their rooms are small 14 square meter bedrooms with tatami mats and they offer zen meditation classes in the morning. The tranquility of the temple grounds and waking up to its beautiful sceneries made it an unforgettable experience.

If you're interested how to book a night at Shunkoin temple, we made a reservation through their website: http://www.shunkoin.com/

Zen and Meditation

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In the morning, we signed up for a zen class by Rev. Taka Kawakami where he taught the art of meditation and mindfulness. He taught us the zen concept of 'no mind': emptying our minds with distractions, preoccupations, fears, worries, and just focusing in the moment. It is the only one in Kyoto lead in English. The class ends with a tour of the temple grounds and a cup of hot matcha (I'm very happy.)

This was probably the main draw of staying in a temple lodge that complete the zen experience. It was truly refreshing to learn these zen Buddhism concepts we could apply to our daily lives.

Going Around Kyoto

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We spent 2 days in the temple lodge which meant we have extra time to go around the area. What is great about this Shukubo is it is within close proximity to Kyoto's popular Kinkakuji golden pavilion and other temples such as Ninnaji temple and Ryoanji's rock garden. This serves as a good base to explore northern Kyoto.

At night, there are also a few good dining options near the temple complex. We were able to try Raku Raku Kitchen run by the very quirky and fun Akira Misobutchi. I tried their vegetable nabe (hotpot). The food is simple yet very tasty. He was very engaging while cooking food in front of us behind the counter. Going into this restaurant was a pleasant surprise for us and we had a fantastic experience with Akira.