A Tranquil Escape

img_1531We selected Shojoshin-in for our temple lodging and could not have been happier with our stay.  The grounds are stunning and serene.  The confirmation email from Japanese Guest Houses (the third party through which reservations are made) stresses that the temple is run by monks and guests should expect a lower level of service than is typical of a hotel stay.  Despite this warning, I found the service to be friendly and perfectly adequate, with the facilities as comfortable as a standard ryokan.

While listed amenities of the temple only mention public baths, there are in fact public and private bathing facilities.  The private facilities are still shared and a sign above the door states that the capacity is two to three people, but the monk who showed us around specifically told me it was for private use and showed me how to lock the door.  (The evening of our stay, I had a refreshing shower and soothing soak in the piping hot tub, but Derek was not so lucky.  Another guest broke open the locked shower door in an effort to enter!  Apparently he didn’t get the same message we did.)

In keeping with Buddhist custom, the meals served at the temple are all vegetarian.  Though held in a large dining hall, guest tables are partitioned, thus resulting in a semi-private dining experience.  img_2131We enjoyed both dinner and breakfast.  We often had no idea what we were eating, and many flavors and consistencies were unfamiliar, but it was all very good.  I became quite full at dinner but was again hungry before bed and wished I had brought some snacks.

The morning prayer service was a bit of a disappointment.  I had expected the ceremony to be participatory, but it was solely observational and performed by a single monk.  It would also have been nice to have a program of some sort explaining the meaning associated with his chants and movements.

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