When visiting the holy alpine basin of Mount Koya (or ‘Koya-san’, as it’s known in Japan), we highly recommend that you stay in a Buddhist monastery for an immersive experience. Our favourite of these special guesthouses is Fudo-in Temple, which guarantees a memorable stay.
Thanks to its secluded and peaceful location around 300m away from the main street, you cannot help but feel a spiritual atmosphere here upon arrival. This magical air continues into the traditional walkways and rooms, which are decorated in a simple yet striking manner with tatami mats, sliding ‘shōji’ paper doors and the odd hanging scroll or ‘ikebana’ flower arrangement.
The joy of staying here is embracing certain aspects of a Buddhist monk’s lifestyle yourself, from attending a morning prayer ceremony to taking on their vegetarian diet: fear not, the meditative chanting experience is well-worth the early wake-up and the beautifully presented ‘syojin ryori’ (monk dishes) are more flavoursome and colourful that you would expect!
Soaking in an ‘onsen’ (natural hot spring bath) is another highlight of a stay here, as is relaxing in the manicured Zen gardens surrounded by little else but birdsong, gently flowing rivers and the distant ringing of a temple’s bell. Enveloped within unspoiled scenery, crisp mountain air and bright sunlight, you genuinely feel calm and far removed from your everyday routine: bliss.
Plenty of Mount Koya’s UNESCO-protected cultural sites sit very near to this temple lodging, from the ethereal Okunoin Cemetery with its countless cedar trees and glowing lanterns, to the holy temple complex where Kongobuji Temple and Daito Pagoda stand proud.
A night or two at Fudo-in is bound to be an authentic cultural experience, making it the ideal choice for those looking to get well and truly off the beaten track and gain real insights into this captivating country.
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Leslie Siben, India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Anonymous, India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka