Temple stay at Taiyoji temple

KODAK TMax 400 at EI 1600, developed in HC-110 dilution b for 7:30 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.kODAK tmax 400 at EI 1600, developed in HC-110 dilution b for 7:30 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds. Fuji Acros 100 at EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution E for 7 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds. Kodak Portra 400 Kodak Portra 400 kODAK tmax 400 at EI 1600, developed in HC-110 dilution b for 7:30 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds. kODAK tmax 400 at EI 1600, developed in HC-110 dilution b for 7:30 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds. kODAK tmax 400 at EI 1600, developed in HC-110 dilution b for 7:30 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.

The shukubo

One of the most rewarding things we did this trip to Japan was a temple stay (shukubo) at Taiyoji temple (Taiyo-ji). Deutsch hier. Français ici. We had done a temple stay at Koyasan before but this was a much more satisfying experience. Not that we didn’t enjoy our stay at the temple on Mt Koya, on the contrary, but there is a reason why the Taiyoji shukubo is considered the best of all shukubo experiences in Japan.

Imagine an isolated temple on the top of a mountain in a glorious area of Japan and only 2 hours away from Tokyo. This is not the endless urban area of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka or Hiroshima anymore, this is not the well-trodden route most tourists in Japan stick to for even repeat visits, but this is the Japan I would like all tourists to Japan to enjoy.

As part of the shukubo we copied the sutra in calligraphy, participated in all Buddhist services, chanted the sutras and enjoyed a morning zazen session. The shojin ryori, the vegetarian food served in Buddhist temples was delicious and at the end of the day the rotenburo (outdoor bath) waited.
After each service there was a Q&A session about anything Buddhism related. The zazen hall was very beautiful but maybe we were lucky as it was a fabulous morning and meditating in front of an open window with such a beautiful view was difficult as the peaceful mountain was distracting (loved it!)

Staying longer

If you would like to stay at Taiyo-ji temple longer than just one night and are willing to help out with the cooking and serving of the shojin ryori, cleaning, etc., this is perfectly possible and you wouldn’t need to pay full price. Had I known this, I would have stayed for a week, what a chance to learn to cook the shojin ryori!
Contact the temple to get the details.

How to get to Taiyoji

We took the train from tiny Ohanabatake station in the middle of Chichibu to Mitsumineguchi station and continued by bus in the direction to Nagatsugawa via Kawamata and alighted at the bus stop serving Taiyoji temple.  From there we walked the rest of the way by turning to the right over the bridge over the Arakawa River from the bus stop and following the tarmac road leading up for the mountain. From time to time, wooden signs indicated the way.  After about 4km, we arrived at the fishing spot with a tiny soba/udon restaurant and followed the sign for the temple leading up for a steep and ancient pilgrim’s path lined with Ojizō-sama statues which brought us directly to the temple.

Alternatively, get a taxi from Mitsumineguchi station or call ahead to Taiyoji and somebody will come and pick you up from Mitsumineguchi station.


Contact Taiyoji via their contact form, the monk does speak English and there is no need to have any prior calligraphy or zazen experience.
Click here to see the location on Google Maps.

I created a book of our temple stay experience and put it online, I am sure you will recognise your stay at Taiyo-ji Temple in my photos!

19 thoughts on “Temple stay at Taiyoji temple”

  1. Do you know who founded Taiyoji? I stayed there about a year ago. I am currently taking a class on Japanese Buddhism and my professor is very interested in knowing who founded it. While I was there I remember the monk telling us that it was founded by a relative of an Emperor. Did you learn anything about the temple’s history during your stay?

  2. Hi Hans!
    Do you know if the phone number is still in use? I tried to mail them to check the availibility for a temple stay but I did not yet received a reply. That is why I wanted to call them but then I got a message that ‘the chosen number is not in use’.

    1. Hi Danielle, we believe that the phone number is correct as it is also listed on the Taiyoji pages but it might not be connected any more; anyhow, the phone was not often answered anyway but we know that the contact form on the Taiyoji page is working and read, it just takes the monk a few weeks to reply. From experience, I believe that if you don’t hear anything quickly, everything will be fine but I cannot guarantee that, of course.

    1. I have now stayed there twice one night, the first time 2 years ago after which I wrote this post and most recently between Christmas and New Year in 2015, just a few weeks ago, and both stays were magical.
      I do know that Taiyo-ji Temple will soon have the possibility to stay there for several days at a reduced price if you are willing to help out, the details of this will soon appear on their web site.

      1. That’s great to know! I’ve written to them twice via their contact form but I think it went wrong both times… I haven’t gotten a confirmation e-mail. I’d really like to stay there more than one night, five nights would be best, but I’d also do less. I’m getting anxious though because I’m not getting a reply. I’m going to Japan in February and March and time is running out…

        1. Hi Nina, I know that the monk was very busy over the New Year with hatsumode, etc.. Give him a call at + 8 1 – 4 9 4 – 5 4 – 0 2 9 6 and discuss your plans to sort it out quickly. We find that calling him around noon Japanese time is the time of the day that it is easiest to reach him.

  3. Hi there.
    I’d like to leave a quick information:
    I filled the contact form 4 weeks ago and tested my patience. Finally I called at the temple today and got an answer. Since we plan to stay there in September this year, the monk told me that he will start taking reservations for September in June. So I was too early and have to wait until June. Additionally, his PC is brokenat the moment, that’s why he was not able to answer the contact form – しょうがない 😉

  4. I am so excited find your blog and looking forward to looking more closely.
    I just wanted to thank you. I tried unsuccessfully to book the Taiyoji Temple last year and then had to cancel the whole trip for health reasons. Now planning a new trip and had lost previous info. Not easy to find again until you came up in about my 6th search. Such great links too and Q&A which I may well use later.
    There is nothing on Wikipedia – would you think to put your information on there I wonder.

  5. I tried to book for a temple stay but didn’t hear from them after I sent in the contact form. I’m now thinking of calling the temple – does the monk himself answer the phone? Strange question but it’s because I can’t speak Japanese at all!

    1. The monk answers the phone typically and he speaks English, phoning is indeed the best option if the email reply take a while and you want to make sure that the booking is registered. Enjoy your stay!

  6. Hello
    may we visit to stay on tuesday 2 october for one night please? two people, two beds, vegetarian please?
    please advise thank you Jenny

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