Japan's Buddhist temples to offer rooms to rent after law change

by Danielle Demetriou , The Telegrraph, 28 May 2018

Tokyo, Japan -- The words “spiritual” and “spartan” are not often used to describe properties listed on Airbnb. They are, however, more likely to crop up following the launch of a service devoted to providing accommodation in temples across Japan.

Terahaku aims to become the Airbnb of temples when it starts operating this summer, with the goal of offering visitors the opportunity to sleep overnight in Buddhist establishments.

Until now, a small number of Japanese temples have offered accommodation known as shukubo, typically including a place to sleep and vegetarian Buddhist cuisine, mostly targeting pilgrims or adventurous tourists.

However, Japan’s 77,000 nationwide temples have been restricted by laws from marketing themselves as commercial accommodation, a situation that will change with new legislation relating to residential lodging from June 15.

Terahaku, the brainchild of an Osaka-based tourism company called Waqoo Co, will enable users to book stays in temples at the click of a button, via computers or smartphones.

The company has formed partnerships with Airbnb and Booking.com so users can research listings and make reservations in English, with nightly rates expected to range from around 10,000-20,000 yen (£70-£140).

Around 100 temples will feature on the site when it launches in July - including Mii-dera, a famous Buddhist complex dating back to the seventh century, not far from Kyoto – with plans to boost this to 1,000 in three years.

In addition to offering accommodation, many temples will offer a unique cultural insight into Buddhist life, with some offering guests the chance to try zazen meditation, sutra writing or attend early morning prayers as well as sample Buddhist cuisine.

“Terahaku aims to help tourists understand traditional Japanese culture and history,” a Waqoo spokesperson told the Telegraph.

Terahaku is one of a raft of accommodation innovations that have emerged in Japan in recent years, in response to the nation’s widely reported shortage of beds in the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A record number of tourists are holidaying in Japan, with nearly 28.7 million visiting in 2017 and the government apparently on track to hit its target of 40 million visitors by 2020.

The government is reportedly keen for visitors to tap into alternative forms of accommodation, according to Reuters – including love hotels – in a bid to limit room shortages.

The accommodation website Booking.com has reportedly seen love hotel bookings rise 48 per cent in the past year and expects the trend to continue as the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics approach.
We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv