If You Need to Find Inner Peace, You Can Visit This Temple in Japan

Spend a few days examining your innermost self.

Tendai-shu Gabisan Monjusenji
2432, Daionji, Kunisaki-machi, Kunisaki-shi, Oita Prefecture
Contact: +81-978-74-0820
Open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
There are days when the temple is not open for visitors. Inquiry is required.

People don’t always take trips to go sightseeing or experience a different culture. Sometimes, they book their tickets to find solitude. They go on retreats to clear their thoughts and renew their spirit. In Japan, there is a practice known as shukubo that allows you to go on such a journey.

Shukubo entails lodging in a temple or shrine, where you can participate in activities such as
morning working, sutra-transcribing, and the zen meditation to reset your heart and body.

There is a quiet temple near the Kunisaki Peninsula where you can spend some time alone.

A solitary journey in Tendai-shu Gabisan Monjusenji

The group of temples extending to the Kunisaki Peninsula in the Oita Prefecture is collectively called Rokugomanzan. Dating back to the ancient times, the area has been considered a place for mountain worship, particularly for the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism.

Tendai-shu Gabisan Monjusenji was established in 648 as the greatest temple in Rokugomanzan. It is located on the mountainside of Monjuyama, almost at the center of the peninsula.

Beginning from a desire for people to treasure the feeling of worshipping at a temple, Monjusenji named the shukubo experience as the Shukubo Special Worship.

The zen meditation and goma (homa) ceremony are done in a silent temple where no one comes to visit. The solitude, in itself, becomes a special time for the visitors to focus on themselves, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Here’s what you can expect when you spend a few days in the temple:

Day 1 (3 p.m.) Sutra-transcribing

Transcribing the sutra requires you to carefully trace from a copybook placed underneath the sheet of paper provided. After doing so, you fill in a form with your name, wish, and the date.

An hour’s worth of concentration on the 290 words and copying Buddha’s teachings or 
Hannya Shingyo can do wonders to your body and heart. You can offer your work, along with goma sticks, at the goma ceremony the following day. During the ceremony, you pray for your wishes to come true.

Day 1 (6:30 p.m.) Dinner

The dinner served is purely comprised of vegetable dishes. These dishes differ depending on the season.  Guests are expected to eat without noise, as a way of showing their manners and respect for the temple. The breakfast, on the other hand, is as simple as porridge and miso soup.


Day 2 (6 a.m.) Zen meditation

Upon getting up, guests are expected to practice zen meditation for 30 minutes. Make it a point to sit in the correct posture and concentrate. The birds singing in the background will be the only sound you’ll be hearing. You have the option of bending forward to take the zen stick, 15 minutes into your zen meditation.

Day 2 (6:45 a.m.) Morning goma (homa) ceremony

Gather the goma (homa) sticks in the pot on the altar and marvel at the spectacular fire jumping upwards. All of your worldly desires will be burnt out by pouring scented oil and holding a memorial ceremony.

Provided by Japan Walker™ and Kyushu Walker™ (28 May 2018)

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