Hello Travel Friends!
After seeing a friend of mine stay at a temple in Japan on his Contiki tour, I told myself that this was something I absolutely wanted to experience.
We decided on the dates of our Japan trip, booked our ticket and after determining the days we would be in Kyoto, I did research on how to stay at a temple in Kyoto.
The process was not easy!
What I found:
- Most of the temples that provide a lounging service require you to make a reservation by calling in.
- Most of them don’t speak much English.
- Most of them don’t have a reservation system online nor do they use email.
I stumbled upon a few websites that were helpful. There was not much information on the web about staying at temples in Japan.
Sites I found helpful:
- List of Kyoto Temple Stays
- The only temple that I found with an online reservation system: Ninnaji Temple
- Description of Shukubo and some locations around Japan that offer temple lounging.
- Shunkoin Temple Website, one of few temples that actually has their own website!
My criteria for the temple stays were that I wanted a private bathroom and a breakfast at the temple. When I stumbled onto the Ninnaji Temple reservation site, they were all booked out for the night I wanted to stay at. So sad because they fit both of my criteria! So instead I opted for Shunkō-in Temple because it was the next easiest temple to book at since I could make the reservation via email and in English. However, they didn’t offer a traditional Japanese breakfast in the morning which was a bummer =(.
I went on their website and followed their direction to make the reservation. To be honest I was pretty anxious because the photos of the temple on the website didn’t do the temple justice! However, when we got there, the temple was absolutely BEAUTIFUL.
We stayed for one night and the Shunkō-in Temple was in a vicinity with many other temples. The vicinity was serene, quiet and beautiful. A struggle of getting to the Shunkō-in Temple was that you can’t point to it on Google maps. We got completely lost! This temple is not a the major tourist area of Kyoto so expect it to be more neighborly and quiet.
How to get there:
If you stay here, you have to make your way to the JR Hanazono Station (the 4th station). When you exit the JR Hanazono Station, walk left (~5 minutes) until you reach a huge Temple-esque looking gate. There are no signs but this will be the South Gate of Myoshinji Temple Complex! Within this complex are dozens of temples and the Shunkō-in Temple is one of them! Without the help of a local, we would have never found this temple so to save you the stress, I’ve drawn up a map =D.
Yellow square is the whole temple complex/ vicinity. Follow the red path from Hanazono Station to the Main Gate and enter vicinity and continue following the arrows to Shunkō-in Temple. Oh, and they have complimentary bike rental which was amazing! We biked to the Kinkaku-ji Temple within 20 minutes.
I hope you have an excellent time! =)
Our room was very nice! This photo is the sleeping area and it doesn’t do the whole room justice. Those sleeping shikibutons are extremely comfortable!