Step behind the rice paper doors at Zen Buddhist temples
Iroha Nihon opens the door to the spiritual core of Japan, offering you the chance to experience life in a Zen Buddhist temple generally closed to the public. The Iroha Nihon project’s mission is to share Japanese culture. Monks at temples such as Daiji-in Temple welcome you to participate in zazen (seated meditation, a fundamental practice in Zen Buddhism), tea ceremony, and sutra recitation, led by monks or the chief priest. You are also invited to walk the temple grounds with the chief priest while he explains the temple history and teachings through an interpreter. Meals are taken with the chief priest or another representative of the temple and are exquisite examples of Zen Buddhism’s special cuisine: vegetarian, perfectly-seasoned and nourishing. Rooms and amenities vary depending on the temple, but many have "tatami" mats, sliding paper doors, and "futons" to sleep on. A few even have creature comforts such as air-conditioning, WiFi, ensuite bathrooms, and other modern essentials.
One of the project’s most extraordinary opportunities is a stay at Ninna-ji Temple, one of Kyoto’s most famous temples. For 1 million yen, you can stay in Shorin-an, a beautiful 2-story wooden building with a Japanese tearoom, hitherto unused but now repurposed by Iroha Nihon. By taking this chance to understand Japan better, you’ll be both deepening your understanding and helping the temple to continue to offer its spiritual services, too.