Koyasan's Fukuchi-in Shukubo, a Night in the Sacred Realm

The Buddhist Channel, 4 November 2023

Koyasan, Wakayama (Japan) -- Nestled amidst the serene beauty of Mount Koya in Wakayama, Japan, lies an extraordinary opportunity to immerse yourself in a unique facet of Japanese culture. For travelers seeking an authentic and spiritually enriching adventure, a stay at a "Shukubo", or temple lodging, is an unparalleled experience.

Fukuchi-in offers one of the best Shukubo experience in Koyasan

Japanese culture resonates deeply with tradition and spirituality. For an unparalleled journey, consider spending a night in a Shukubo, where the sanctity of Buddhist temples invites visitors into a world of simplicity and ancient customs.

Koyasan, with over 50 temples offering Shukubo experiences, stands out as a prominent destination for this one-of-a-kind stay. Unlike other regions, Koyasan's temples are well-acquainted with hosting foreign guests, making reservations accessible through platforms like Booking.com, Agoda, or via the tourist association using email or fax.

Among these, Fukuchi-in stands as a grand gateway to the spiritual realm. Set against the backdrop of sacred Mt. Koya, Fukuchi-in boasts the renowned gardens crafted by Mirei Shigemori, a revered master gardener from the Showa era.

Accommodations at Fukuchi-in offer a quintessential Japanese experience. Guests can unwind in soothing hot-spring baths, partake in Shakyo Sutra transcriptions, and join in Buddhist morning services. The tranquil ambiance extends to "Tatami-no-Yu," where guests can relax on tatami mats and revel in the quaint open-air bath.

Fukuchi-in boasts the renowned gardens crafted by Mirei Shigemori, a revered master gardener from the Showa era.

Rooms feature traditional Japanese elements - tatami floors and comfortable futon bedding. While some rooms provide views of the exquisite gardens and offer private facilities, each guest room ensures a peaceful sanctuary. Breakfast consists of delectable traditional Buddhist vegetarian dishes, completing the cultural and gastronomic immersion.

For those eager to experience a Shukubo, the typical cost ranges from 9,000 to 15,000 yen per person per night, covering both dinner and breakfast. It's essential to note that most temples accept cash payments only.

Upon arrival, visitors are welcomed into simple, private Japanese rooms adorned with tatami floors and sliding doors. Futons, laid out on the tatami floor, offer a cozy night's sleep, while gas heaters provide warmth during winter nights. Dinner is usually served around 17:30 or 18:00, showcasing the art of vegetarian monks' cuisine, including specialties like konnyaku and yuba.

Mornings beckon with a spiritual aura as guests are invited to participate in the temple's morning prayers, usually commencing around 6 am, followed by breakfast at 7 am. Some temples also host meditation sessions in the late afternoon. Throughout the stay, guests can explore the temple's cultural treasures, halls, and gardens, while also indulging in the communal, gender-separated baths.

For a travel experience that transcends the ordinary, a night at a Shukubo on Mount Koya promises a glimpse into an ancient and deeply spiritual way of life, allowing visitors to merge with Japan's rich cultural tapestry.
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