Temple Stay at Ninna-ji Temple
World Heritage Ninna-ji Temple, best known for its ancient structure and the beautiful sight of Omuro Sakura cherry trees, offers a one-of-a-kind experience, welcoming a single group of up to five guests to stay for a night. Guests have private access to the temple complex and can browse cultural treasures not usually displayed for the public on a tour of the grounds with one of the priests.
Each stay is unique, with the experience tailored for each party. Temple staff consult with guests to arrange a bespoke program that takes into account their food preferences, tastes, and cultural interests. The experience begins as the heavy wooden doors of the Niomon gate open to reveal a serene oasis of ancient structures and beautiful gardens. Guests are shown to their accommodation, a private villa on the grounds which is carefully prepared with a curated selection of artworks, furniture, and seasonal flowers.
Ninna-ji is one of Japan’s most prestigious temples and has a deep connection with the imperial family, whose members served as head priests for many generations. It was founded in 888 and many of its current halls date from the Edo period (1603–1867). The grounds and the halls are especially atmospheric at dusk, bathed in the soft glow of lantern light.
Dinner is a highlight of the stay, complete with entertainment. Guests dine in the palatial shinden hall, the former head priest’s residence. Options include shojin-ryori Buddhist cuisine or Kyoto-style kaiseki banquets. Dinner may be accompanied by music and dance performed by geisha and maiko, or followed with courtly music played on traditional instruments, or even a Noh theater performance.
A stay at Ninna-ji gives exclusive behind-the-scenes access to a renowned temple and offers an insight into the rich culture and heritage of Japan’s ancient capital, Kyoto.