One of the best things about Japan is the country's rich culture, rooted deep in tradition, religion, and history. If you are looking for a unique, immersive experience while on your trip to Japan, you should consider staying at a Shukubo.
Shukubo is the Japanese word for a temple lodging that allows visitors to stay overnight in a Buddhist temple. Most people who visit Japan on a pilgrimage choose to stay in a Shukubo because they get the opportunity to stay on sacred grounds. The entire experience of staying in a temple lodging allows them to witness Buddhist monks' humbling, simplistic, and wholesome lifestyle.
A lot of tourists find staying at a Shukubo lodging highly fulfilling. Staying in a traditional Japanese room with futons and tatami flooring, waking up at sunrise for morning prayers, and devouring tasty vegetarian Buddhist meals will impress anyone who visits a Shukubo.
In this blog, we will take a close look at the best Shukubo across Japan so you can plan your trip, keeping everything, from location to facilities, in mind!
Jodo-shu Kannonzan Shokoin Shukubo Kannonji Temple is a Shukubo in Noboribetsu on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The island is known for its hot water springs. At this Shukubo, you can enjoy the free-flowing hot water hydrogen-sulfide spring called "Kannonyu." The spring is full of minerals called “Yunohana” that give it a clouded appearance.
Unfortunately, no meals will be provided to you at this temple lodging during your stay, but you can use their microwave and refrigerator. The locals of Noboribetsu recommended trying out delicious local food joints in their town.
While your stay at this Shukubo, you can participate in morning and evening work and lend a helping hand to the monks to get a taste of their lifestyle.
Osorezan Yadobo Kisshokaku is a sophisticated and spacious Shukubo nestled in the foothills of Mt. Osorezan – one of the most sacred mountains in all of Japan. Each year, during the Osorezan Taisai Festival in late July and the Osorezan Akimairi Festival in early October, many people visit this temple and stay there to communicate with departed souls.
At Osorezan Yadobo Kisshokaku, visitors can take a free sacred hot spring bath in water tinged with sulfur. There are four bathhouses that men and women use during the day. Some also allow mixed bathing. There is also a large communal bath in the Shukubo that flows directly from its source!
Mt. Haguro is one of the most popular mountain tourist spots in Japan. Located at the entrance to Mt. Haguro, Tamurabo is one of the best temple lodgings in Japan. It usually houses pilgrims from all over the country who come to visit the five-story pagoda of Mt. Haguro.
Tamurabo offers clean and calm Japanese-style rooms to all its guests. Each room also has a TV so you can relax and unwind without hesitation. If you wish to pray, you need to make a reservation to secure your spot.
Tamurabo also offers meals. If you’re staying for one night, you can get two meals for 8,000 yen per person, although you need to make prior reservations for meals as well.
This ancient temple was founded by Kobo Daishi Kukai on April 8th, in the 2nd year of the Daido era (807). Four different Yudonosan temples were joined on the order of the Shogunate. Three temples have the original mountain name, but the main temple, Dainichibo, is the only Yudono temple with a mountain number. The main Dainichibo building has a monk's dormitory, a training dojo, and a lecture hall.
The Shukubo can accommodate up to five people or more. During your stay, you can also participate in prayers from 6 PM and work with the monks. You will be offered vegetarian meals made with locally harvested wild plants. If you wish, you can also pay extra to enjoy dishes made from freshly caught river fish.
Yudonosan Sohonji Takimizuji Dainichibo Temple
Yudonoyama Sankosho is a shukubo located next to the Yudonoyama Shrine in Yamagata. The sister of the Japanese goddess, Amaterasu, is enshrined here. Anyone who visits this Shukubo can bathe in the hot spring. The sacred waters are even open to visitors who aren’t staying the night.
Yudonoyama Sankosho is one of the best Shukubo lodgings in Japan to enjoy the serene ambience, both physically and spiritually. During your stay at this Shukubo, don’t forget to taste the freshly picked wild plants and the mountain stream fish!
Shounji Temple is a stand-alone temple built in the 17th century by the prominent Buddhist figure Soho Takuan. Anyone can visit this temple, regardless of their religious beliefs. The monks at this temple advocate all religions and hope for the joy and happiness of every person who visits.
The Shounji Hall inside the temple acts as a Shukubo for the Dewa-no-Umi Beya Sumo Stable. As the Sumo Spring Basho (or “tournament”) draws near each year, the Shukubo becomes lively and filled with visitors. The Shukubo also has a rock garden. It is truly the best place to experience various things such as introspection, sutras, and cultural stories.
At Shounji Temple, the meals are simple and low-priced. Don’t expect a lavish buffet or a feast. For dinner, they offer curry and coffee, and breakfast every morning is a set meal.
Mt. Fukuo Shokakuji is an ancient temple belonging to the Soto sect. It is built on the banks of the Naguri River. It has a rich history dating back over 500 years.
At Mt. Fukuo Shokakuji, you can participate in a Zen meditation experience every evening for 40 minutes. This session is followed by dinner, where they usually serve a Tenzo dish (a Zen temple vegetarian dish) cooked with prayer and gratitude.
In the mornings, you can meditate, work with the monks, and, if you wish, copy sutras for 1000 yen before you descend the mountain.
Seizan-so is one of the best Shukubo in Japan, tucked away in the mountains of the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park in Ome City, Tokyo. It is located on the path to the Musashi Mitake Shrine that draws thousands of pilgrims each year.
The best thing about Seizan-so is that there are several hiking trails nearby. You can also participate in a waterfall meditation and make small day trips to the Ayahiro Falls and Nanayo Falls.
At Seizan-so, you can also partake in breathing exercises and Zen meditation. They also offer a crystal bowl healing session that’ll help reset your mind and body. In the evening, you can enjoy a Sho (bamboo wind instrument performance.
The cost of staying at Seizan-so for one night with two meals is 11,500 Japanese Yen per person. This includes two training sessions, meditation sessions, and the Sho performance.
Nishisuzakibo Kuraya is the closest Shukubo to the Musashi Mitake Shrine, also located in Ome City, Tokyo. Here, you can enjoy fresh air, a magnificent mountain view, and traditional Japanese cuisine filled with nature's bounties. Don’t forget to taste the famous handmade oyaki made by the landlady!
Nishisuzakibo Kuraya also has a beautiful restaurant and cafe space. The night view from the top is very picturesque. There are a total of six rooms at this Shukubo. Each room has a cable TV and fresh, clean bathrobes for the guests. There is also a coffee machine and tea maker that you can use. There is also a spectacular sky bath that guests can enjoy.
Located at an altitude of 929 meters, Nanzanso is the only Shukubo on the southeast side of Mt. Mitake. It offers a wonderful view of the Kanto plains, especially from the observation bath with large glass windows, and is filled with water from the Mitakesan waterfall. You can catch a glimpse of the stunning Tokyo skyline and watch the sunrise from the top.
Nanzanso is one of the best temple lodgings in Japan if you wish to have a luxurious time. There are nine rooms at this Shukubo, and they were recently renovated in 2010. Each room has a calming atmosphere, similar to that of a Japanese-style inn. You will also find air conditioners, TVs, and Wi-Fi facilities in every room.
Shishi Sanso is a historic inn located at the foot of the Oyama Afuri Shrine in Kanagawa. It is a family-owned business run and operated by the same family for twenty-one generations. Here you can enjoy the simple mountain lifestyle and try out the famous local tofu dish made from Oyama.
Shishi Sanso is an excellent choice of accommodation. Each room has a minibar, a refrigerator, and a private toilet. The rooms are also air-conditioned to provide extra comfort. The inn also has a parking facility available for the guests. There is also a restaurant where you can enjoy authentic Japanese food.
Shohoin Takenobo is the only Shukubo in the Sanmon of Kuonji Temple located in Yamanashi. The temple was founded by an old monk, Nichiro Shonin, in 1281.
Shohoin Takenobo offers a separate room for guests, distanced from the main building. The room offers a spectacular view of a beautiful garden with colorful flowers of all seasons. There is a long stairway of 287 steps from the Shukubo that leads up to the Kuonji temple.
At Shohoin Takenobo, the owners cultivate their own fresh food, which you will get to taste during mealtime. We recommend you try the vegetarian dishes made from yuba and seasonal vegetables.
Akiha Sohonden is a huge temple compound with several gorgeous buildings and halls. Located in Fukuroi City, Shizuoka, it has a connection with Ieyasu Tokugawa, founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. This place is popular as the best Zen training dojo on the eastern sea route.
At Akiha Sohonden, you can stay over on Saturdays and Sundays for 8800 Japanese Yen per person in a Shukubo. The program is known as “Tsukishinkai." The cost includes Zazen, sutras, chanting, and more. You can also take a half-day Tsukishinkai course if you don’t want to stay the night.
Toyokawa Kaku Myoganji Temple is a 600-year-old temple in Aichi belonging to the Sodoshu sect. It is known nationwide under the name of "Toyokawa Inari.” It is said to bring prosperity, family safety, and good luck to all who visit. As one of Japan's three largest Inari shrines, it was visited by historic legends such as Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Oda Nobunaga.
At Toyokawa Kaku Myoganji, you can experience Okomori, the perfect way to cleanse your spirit. You will also find over 1000 statues of sacred foxes. To stay the night at this Shukubo, you need to partake in the morning prayer the next morning.
Manpuku-an Eishoji is a Zen family temple of the Shimazaki family. It was built in 1558. It is mentioned in Toson Shimazaki’s novel “Yoakemae” as Manpukuji Temple.
Manpuku-an Eishoji also serves as an old-fashioned Shukubo where you can stay the night and enjoy Zazen meditation and sutra copying along with authentic Buddhist Shojin cuisine. The local ingredients used in meals prepared at the Shukubo change with the seasons.
Manpuku-an Eishoji is a family-run lodge, the current rate for which is 8000 Japanese Yen per person for one night with two meals. It can accommodate 20 people at a time and has 15 parking spots for guests.
Hida Takayama Zenkoji Temple is one of the oldest and the best Shukubo lodgings in Japan, belonging to the Jodo sect. It welcomes people from all over the world, regardless of their nationality or religion. It doubles as a youth-hostel-style Shukubo that receives a lot of foreign tourists all year round.
The best part about Hida Takayama Zenkoji Shukubo is that it is easy to access and provides cheap accommodation for 3000 Japanese Yen per person (without meals). If you’re looking for a cheap place to stay in Takayama for sightseeing, this Shukubo is a great option!
At Hida Takayama Zenkoji, you can experience Zen meditation, sutra copying, Buddha tracing, and other Buddhist rituals to maintain balance in your mind, body, and spirit. They also provide a special workspace for concentration and healing.
Located at a five-minute walk from the historic Togakushi Shrine, Kyū Hiroshi Yoshi-in Oshiryokan is a temple lodging in the peaceful mountainous area of Togakushi. It is extremely popular among pilgrims. The main building is 250 years and has an impressive Japanese-style thatched roof.
Guests who stay the night at this Shukubo stay in clean and calm Japanese-style rooms. Each room is fitted with tatami flooring and has futon bedding. All rooms have a flat-screen TV and a seating area. However, there is no attached toilet.
The best part of staying at this Shukubo is the homemade meal served in the spacious dining room located in the main building. For dinner, you get specialty handmade soba buckwheat noodles. If you wish, you can also make a reservation to experience soba-making!
Omotoyama Sojiji Soin is a temple founded in 1321 by Zen Master Keizan Jokin. It is a part of the ancient Soto sect of Zen Buddhism. It also doubles as a Shukubo. After the fire of 1898, the main function of the temple was moved to Yokohama.
Sojiji is one of the best Shukubo lodgings in Japan. It has room for up to 30 people. There are multiple courses that you can enjoy during your stay, such as the Sanzen course, the Haishuku course, and the Zazen course.
All guests have to participate in the morning reading of the scriptures of Buddha at 5 AM. Guests who stay the night at Omotoyama Sojiji Soin can experience the lifestyle of the monks who live and train on the temple grounds.
Natadera Ikumo is a temple lodging built on the summit of Engyoyama, the training ground for Natadera Temple. It is located at an altitude of 470 meters. From the summit, you can see Mt. Hakusan and the Kanazawa Plains. The scenic view provides a unique healing experience.
During your stay at Natadera Ikumo, you can focus on relaxation, perform music meditation, and experience sutra copying. You can also take part in the Shinto Fire Festival (for a fee), the purpose of which is to raise your wishes and thoughts to the heavens with smoke to make your mind peaceful. The rooms include many tatami spaces as well as western bedrooms. There is also a writing room to experience calligraphy and a meditation room.
Joko Enmanji Temple Enmeikaku is an incredibly old temple founded by Gyoki Bosatsu in 735, more than 1270 years ago. It is also the family temple of General Ashikaga and is famous for wishing for the healing of hearts.
At Joko Enmanji, guests can stay the night at their accommodation facility - a large hall with 50 tatami mats. The hall is also used for other purposes such as training camps and practicing musical instruments. The Shukubo is exceedingly popular for its homely hospitality.
Rengejoin Temple is a traditional Buddhist temple where the Japanese samurai warrior, Yukimura Sanada, lived. It is located near the Mt. Koya cable car station.
Rengejoin Temple also doubles as a Shukubo and has 46 Japanese-style guest rooms with shared baths for both women and men. Guests are served Buddhist Monk vegetarian meals. Parking is also available, and some hosts also speak English.
If you are fond of history, you should take a tour of the "upper room" during your stay where Yukimura used to live. The beautiful traditional Japanese garden is also a must-see and one of the highlights of the temple. Here, you can spend a relaxing time while soaking in the scenic views.
Located on sacred Mt. Koya, Fukuchiin is the largest Shukubo in the area. It is home to the famous gardens built by Mirei Shigemori, a master gardener of the Showa era.
Fukuchiin Shukubo offers Japanese-style accommodations. Guests can unwind in hot-spring baths and experience Shakyo Sutra transcriptions. They can also attend Buddhist morning services and enjoy the "Tatami-no-Yu" on tatami mats in the washing area and the quaint open-air bath.
The Japanese-style guest rooms feature tatami floors and futon bedding. Each room comes with a safety deposit box and a TV. Some rooms also offer garden views and have a private toilet. At breakfast, the hosts serve traditional Buddhist vegetarian dishes.
Hongakuin Temple Shukubo has a history of more than 820 years. It is built in the same place where Kobo Daishi, a Japanese monk, himself enshrined the Jizo Bodhisattva, an important saint of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.
The temple has five gardens with different tastes. You can enjoy a luxurious garden view from the guest rooms. All rooms are separated either by a fusuma sliding door or a wall. Bathrooms are shared among other guests.
The cost of staying at Hongakuin varies from 9270 to 35,000 Japanese Yen per person for one night (two meals included). All rooms are equipped with TVs and air conditioners so you can spend your time comfortably.
Hojo-in is one of the most popular temple lodgings in Japan. It is located near Mt. Koya. It was founded around 870 years ago and is one of the oldest Shukubo in the area. It belongs to the former Kaninnomiya family and holds many important cultural properties, such as the hidden treasure, Benzaiten.
At the Hojo-in Shukubo, there is a large hall where you can do sutra-copying and participate in yoga camps. All facilities are quite modern but won’t disconnect you from history. You will have to respect the strict schedule of the monks who run the temple and adapt yourself to it. The hosts will serve you traditional Buddhist vegetarian meals made from locally sourced produce.
The cost of staying at Hojo-in is approximately 11,000 Japanese Yen per person, per night (breakfast and dinner included).
Shoshayama Enkyoji Temple is a Buddhist training dojo temple of the Tendai Zen sect. It is located on top of Mount Shosha, about 8 km north of central Himeji city. High priest Shoku Kaijin found it in 966.
Since its inception, this temple has been visited by many emperors all the way from Kyoto. For this reason, it is considered a highly prestigious temple and is designated as an important cultural property. It was also used as a film location for "The Last Samurai.”
You can stay at the Enkyoji Kaikan Shukubo on the property. It is a very convenient location if you wish to go sightseeing in Himeji Castle. The Shukubo also features a lodging and dining hall, a gymnasium, and several observation points.
Founded more than 1200 years ago, Saijo Inariyama Myokyoji Temple is one of Japan's top three Inari temples. It is a precious temple that follows Buddhist tradition.
During the Meiji era, when the Shinto and Buddhist deities were separated, pilgrims were allowed to practice both Shinto and Buddhism in this temple.
The Shukubo at the Saijo Inariyama Myokyoji Temple is named Kenmeikaku. It is used as an accommodation for pilgrims and also serves as a lunch place and a training venue for employees.
Shukubo Kotakuji is a temple lodging that opened at Kotakuji Temple in Tottori in April 2012. The temple belongs to the school of Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji and was built in 1592.
Located in the mountain village of Tottori, this Shukubo is the perfect place to have a luxurious time away from everyday life. Here, you can stay in clean and serene rooms equipped with Wi-Fi. It is a cozy space where you can feel the priests’ commitment.
If you wish, you can take various courses in Buddhism and Jodo Shinshu for free during your stay at Shukubo Kotakuji. You can also consult with monks if you have any troubles in life.
Mt. Mitoku Kaijo-in is a Shukubo in Tottori, located at a distance of 0.3 miles from the Mitokusan Sanbutuji Temple and 3.4 miles from the Misasa Shrine. It is located on top of a sacred mountain (Mt. Mitoku) and was found in 706.
The Kaijo-in temple lodging holds a national treasure, the input hall, built on a steep cliff. It is also known as the "flying hall." At a distance of 4.1 miles from the Shukubo is the Ueshi Castle Remains that you can visit during your stay.
Kaijo-in is also famous as a vegetarian Shukubo. You can enjoy authentic vegetarian Buddhist dishes and also experience Zazen.
Also located in Tottori, Mi-shō-in Sanraku-sō is Shukubo adjacent to the front gate of Oyama-dera, a training ground for mountain Buddhism that has prospered for centuries. The Shukubo is more than 350 years old, and Fudo Myo, the lord of light, is enshrined here.
If you want to spend a quiet night away from the busy city, we suggest visiting this Shukubo. You can enjoy the magnificent view of Oyama-dera from your guest room during your stay.
All meals served at Mi-shō-in Sanraku sō are made using edible wild plants from Oyama. You can enjoy the vegetarian Buddhist cuisine and the colorful menu with both your tongue and eyes.
Keidai No Yado Kōyō-kan is an ancient temple lodging located in the precincts of Yasugi Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Shimane. The temple boasts a rich Buddhist history of 1400 years.
Each room in the Shukubo has large windows facing the precincts and overlooking the magnificent temple surrounded by greenery. At night, the wooden cypress Tahoto and Mie towers in Shimane and Tottori get lit up, offering a fantastic view to all guests staying at Keidai No Yado Kōyō-kan.
During your stay at this Shukubo, you will only be offered traditional, authentic Buddhist vegetarian meals.
Hashikura Temple is a 1,000-year-old temple located in western Tokushima. It is nestled in a scenic spot in the mountains and doubles as a Shukubo, allowing overnight stays for pilgrims and tourists. It was founded by the legendary monk Kobo Daishi in 828.
By staying overnight at this Shukubo, you will be able to witness the lives of Buddhist monks. You can also participate in their morning and evening activities and try authentic shojin ryori, the traditional vegetarian Buddhist cuisine.
Hashikura Temple is one of the best Shukubo across Japan, surrounded by rich forests. Its location in the mountains of Miyoshi City makes it an excellent spot to witness the beautiful autumn colors.
Saito Misakiji Henro Sentā is a temple in Kochi. It is where Kobo Daishi trained. It belongs to the Shikoku Henro sect of Buddhism. It is the 24th temple on the 88-sacred sites Shikoku Pilgrimage around the island of Shikoku.
Next to the temple is a large Shukubo known as the Henro Center. Here all people, regardless of their nationality or religion, can stay with peace of mind. The guest rooms are equipped with modern facilities, such as TVs and air conditioners. The Center offers both Japanese-style rooms and Western-style rooms. All rooms are also accessible for disabled guests.
Iwamoto-ji is a Shukubo located in the precincts of the Chisan Shingon temple, the 37th temple on the Shikoku 88-temple pilgrimage. It is situated near the Shimanto River in Kochi and was founded in 729. The Shukubo has been entertaining pilgrims and tourists from all over the world for centuries.
At Iwamoto-ji Shukubo, you can take part in various activities. You can enjoy the atmosphere of the temple from the sauna that offers scenic views of the precincts. You can also participate in the morning memorial service. During mealtimes, you can enjoy simple Japanese country cuisine made using local ingredients.
During your stay at Iwamoto-ji, don’t forget to explore the main hall and witness the beauty of the 575 contemporary ceiling paintings solicited from all over the country.
Mt. Emei Monjusenji Temple is a temple in Oita belonging to the Tendai sect. It is a serene Buddhist temple with ancient trees, rustic wooden gates, and stone statues. It has served as the main temple of mountain worship on the Kunisaki Peninsula for centuries.
The Mt. Emei Monjusenji Temple also offers temple lodging facilities. Guests can stay the night and participate in Zazen, mine walking, sutra-copying, and morning prayers. The lodging features a ridge surrounded by strange mountain peaks and mysterious rocks that you can explore with the deputy chief priest. Don't forget to drink the sacred water of Okunoin, which is said to make you smarter!
Planning a trip to Japan? Start your research today! As Shukubo are only available in selected temples across the country, start exploring your options with our list of the 34 best Shukubo across Japan. Check online for reservation policies of your selected temple and contact them directly or ask your AJT travel specialist. Remember to unwind and experience the lifestyle of Buddhist monks during your stay.