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Myoshin-ji Shunko-in – Expo 2025: Live to Travel, Travel to Live

Myoshin-ji Shunko-in

Founded in 1590, Myoshin-ji Shunko-in is a historic Zen temple that offers an overnight Zen retreat at its temple lodgings. During their stay, visitors can enjoy the works of renowned craftspeople through experiences such as Zen meditations, tea ceremonies, and calligraphy. In the serene environment of this Kyoto-based Zen temple, guests can even learn about Zen and Kyoto culture directly from English-speaking Zen priests.

Local insights

Rev. Takafumi Zenryu Kawakami is a Zen priest and thinker. He is the 24th head priest of Shunkoin Temple in Kyoto and teaches Zen Buddhist philosophy and meditation, other Eastern contemplative traditions, and the cultural and religious diversity of well-being in both Japanese and English to temple visitors. His travels and lectures have brought him to the likes of the Holy See (online), Brown University, MIT, Microsoft, BNP Paribas, Gallup, TED x Kyoto, Mind & Life Institute, Eton College, etc. He is a member of the U.S. – Japan Leadership Program by the U.S. – Japan Foundation and a researcher at Keio Media Design of Keio University Graduate School of Media Design. Publication: Lambert, L., Lomas, T., Lai, A., Diener, E., Kawakami, T., etc, Towards a greater global understanding of wellbeing: A proposal for a more inclusive measure. International Journal of Wellbeing. 2020;10(2):1-18 Sekaijyu no toppu erito ga tsudou zen no kyoshitsu, 世界中のトップエリートが集う禅の教室, Tokyo, Kadokawa Shoten (2016)

Myoshin-ji Shunko-in and Expo 2025

Through these experiences, visitors can deepen their understanding of Japan's spiritual culture, which has developed uniquely over the course of history and thus, relates to the Expo theme, "Connecting Lives”.

Q1: How does this attraction bring tourists and locals together?

A: At Myoshin-ji Shunko-in, we offer experiences such as Zen meditation, tea ceremonies, and calligraphy in English and promote interactions with the local community by introducing travelers to local artisans' shops and studios based on utensils that piqued their interests during their experiences. Our head priest also engages in activities such as giving lectures overseas, and our staff use their English language skills to teach visitors about culture. Through these efforts, we deepen communication between travelers and local businesses.

Q2: What kind of impressions have you got from visitors?

A: We've received feedback from visitors expressing that the opportunity to speak directly with Zen priests about Kyoto's culture, history, and philosophy was a unique and invaluable experience that they couldn't find elsewhere. They felt that by asking questions and sharing their thoughts in English on the spot, they were able to further deepen their understanding.

Q3: Any message for visitors planning to see Expo 2025?

A: There are many things that can lead to future innovation, not only from new technologies and ideas, but also from Japanese traditions and culture.Through the Expo, we hope that visitors will also be able to experience the depth of Japanese history.

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