Japan's Eiheiji temple: a night's stay in the 13th century

Fri Dec 4, 2015 6:12am EST
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By Junko Fujita

EIHEIJI, Japan (Reuters) - If you want to glimpse life that has not changed much in eight centuries, Eiheiji temple in the mountains just outside Fukui city in central Japan is the place to find it.

Just mind the monk with the stick, who may tap you with it if you fail to meditate.

Isolated from other parts of quiet Eiheiji town on Japan's western coast, the complex of more than 70 buildings stands on a hill among a thick forest of tall cedar trees.  

The temple, established by the Buddhist monk Dogen in 1244, is an active monastery where about 150 monks are in training. They follow the Soto Zen School’s traditional, simple ways of living and are happy to welcome you to join them.

Visitors can tour the temple for a day or stay there overnight as Eiheiji provides lodging, including two meals and the chance for zazen meditation and the reading of Buddhist scripture.

The charge is 8,000 yen ($65) per person for an overnight stay with two meals. Reservations are required, particularly for non-Japanese speakers who must reserve well in advance so the temple can secure an English-speaking monk to attend them. 

The black-garbed monks welcome you at the entrance of the complex and give a brief lecture on the temple and their life.

When they move from building to building, the monks form two lines and walk side by side.   Continued...

Karamon gate (C) is pictured at the Eiheiji temple in Eiheiji town, Fukui prefecture, October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Junko Fujita