The SpaceOur affordable rates include food, lodging, and all on-site activities.
The modest Shōganji Zen Buddhist temple is located in the tiny village of Ojuki, part of the Saganoseki village cluster, only 30 minutes from Oita city. The temple site itself is more than 600 years old, and has been held by the Kongo family for more than 100 years. It is currently headed by Jiho Kongo.
The Property: The general living experience at Shōganji Zen Retreat are best compared, by western standards, to a homestay in a very large well-equipped cottage. There is a quaint and cozy rustic feel and aromas of wood and tatami. The property features a large vegetable garden, a small citrus orchard, and persimmon trees, all surrounded by lush mountain bamboo forest. Most areas on the property are freely accessible most of the time. You can almost always find quiet and solitude, or pleasant company, somewhere on the property at any given time. The number of guests is intentionally kept small for a more personal and relaxed experience… and so that everyone fits in the monk's car for excursions!
Rooms: The property features 4 spacious private tatami guest rooms. The rooms can be shared by couples optionally, but this does not alter the cost per person. They are sparsely decorated and almost unfurnished in the traditional style, with futon bedding. Basic furniture items such as tables or chairs may be requested in your room if needed. Guest AccessMost areas on the property are freely accessible most of the time. You can almost always find quiet and solitude, or pleasant company, somewhere on the property at any given time.
DAILY SCHEDULE Quick Reference:
5:30 – Wake up & chanting in main hall.
6:00 – “Zazen” meditation in main hall, 60 minutes.
7:00 – Tea time and/or personal time.
8:00 – Yoga, fitness practice, or early “samu”.
9:00 – “Samu” or service to the temple. Help out around the retreat, learn something new.
11:00 – Lunch preparation.
11:30 – Lunch time.
12:30 – Activities and outings of your choice.
17:00 – Dinner preparation.
17:30 – Dinner time.
18:30 – Evenings are flexible, relaxed and social.
21:00 – Quiet time.
INTERNET: There is 24-hour wifi internet access in the kitchen/dining area, outdoor courtyard area, and most of the garden – so feel free to bring your laptop or other device. If you are lucky you might get a weak signal in your room. Computer access is available for short periods on request – however there is no public computer for regular use by guests.
LAUNDRY: A washing machine is freely accessible to guests, and laundry is hung to dry. If you prefer a dryer, there is a laundromat only about 2 minutes down the street.
BATHROOMS: The well-maintained bath and toilet areas are shared by all guests. There are two completely separate washrooms with sinks and toilets and one completely separate traditional Japanese style bathing room with both a normal hot shower and a wood-fired hot tub. The wood fired bath is especially delightful in the winter months. One should wash and shower thoroughly before getting into the bath itself as the bathwater is shared. Interaction with GuestsJiho is a very present and attentive host and will do his best to please all of the small number of guests there at a given time. Jiho typically spends at least half the day and often the whole day with his guests, including on site activities, nearby activities, and then car excursions in the area.
Activities at the temple are very flexible based on the interests of the guests at any given time.
The retreat does not operate rigidly as a typical commercial enterprise, and is not a hotel or hostel. It is much more than a place to sleep. Rather, it is a personalized human-based experience in a very special place with a unique host.
Morning meditation is strongly encouraged for all guests. This follows the basic principle behind the existence of Zen Retreat and also fosters a sense of community and shared experience among guests. Beginners and experienced meditators are all welcome, and while traditional Zen sitting-meditation form is encouraged, it is not required. Meditation is truly for everyone, and we follow a “just try it” philosophy here at Shōganji.
Your experience at here can be as strict or as relaxed as you like depending on your needs and interests. Some guests simply want to try meditation and take some time to rejuvenate and experience the magic of Japan in a unique setting. Others may wish to delve deeper into Zen tradition and possibly even add some monastic elements to their stay. (Koan, fasting, extended meditations, calligraphy, Zen studies, and more…)
Meals are informal, communal, and your contribution to menu design and food preparation are always welcome. Please be sure to inform us of any special dietary requirements or preferences you have – most can be accommodated.
DAILY SCHEDULE In Detail:
5:30 – Wake up and freshen up in preparation for 6:00 meditation. 30 minutes of chanting by Jiho in the main hall as guests arrive for meditation. We strongly recommend avoiding any strong caffeinated beverages or any food whatsoever until after meditation. We suggest weak tea or water only.
6:00 – Zazen, sitting meditation 60 minutes. (strongly encouraged for all guests) Form and duration of meditation is flexible and accommodating. Our approach is “just try it” and we welcome all levels of experience. For some the challenge may be to just try informal meditation for a short time each day, for others it may be to develop strict form and extend one’s endurance. For those unable to use traditional cross-legged sitting form, we have numerous cushion options, stools, chairs, and a couch available to you.
7:00 – Tea time, social time in the kitchen, and/or personal time (bathing, reading, rest, etc.) NO breakfast is suggested based on the NISHI HEALTH SYSTEM and other evidence.
Alternately a light breakfast such as fruit or nuts is an option.
8:00 – Options:
1) Independent yoga or fitness practice, walking, etc.
2) Yoga and/or Qi Gong class with Pierre (when available).
3) Early “Samu”, see below…
9:00 – “Samu” or service to the temple. Help out in our large vegetable garden, or wild-harvest special seasonal foods from around the property such as mushrooms, gingko nuts, or bamboo shoots; help out with temple and property maintenance, learn traditional food preparation, etc. Traditionally “Samu” is slow, quiet, meditative “help around the temple” and typically is part of monastic life in Japan. At Shoganji “Samu” is often social and learning oriented, but can be more traditional, meditative, and solitary if you prefer. Just ask.
11:00 – Lunch preparation. Get cleaned up for lunch and/or help us prepare lunch.
11:30 – Lunch time. Your participation is encouraged and appreciated. Learn some Japanese cooking tips or pick some fresh items from the garden. And, please, help out with the dishes at the end of the meal!
12:30 – Afternoons are flexible and unscheduled but may include independent activities, activities with your host, or activities organized between yourself and other guests. sightseeing, shopping, walks, runs, Yoga, swimming, other exercise, Tai Chi, trips into nearby towns, visits to area Onsens (hot-spring bathing), additional meditation/Zen teaching, and more. Jiho is a very engaged host, open to suggestions, and wants you to get the most out of your time here. Excursions by car with Jiho are common. Alternately you can explore independently or organize something with the other guests.
17:00 – Dinner preparation.
17:30 – Dinner time. Once again, your participation is encouraged and appreciated.
18:30 – Evenings are flexible, relaxed and social. Many guests may also take this time to read, do an additional evening meditation, bathe, or any other activity of your choice.
21:00 – Quiet time. Turn off bright lights. Unless there’s a party.
On request, at additional cost, off-site overnight stays can be arranged in places of special interest such as Ryokan visits.
Supervised fasting is an option offered at Zen Retreat but is best done with the participation of all guests.
Please ask if you are interested. The NeighborhoodThe friendly seaside village community of Saganoseki is famous for its fishing, as well as it’s rice fields and speciality citrus groves, all stretched between lush scenic mountainsides. The peaceful location is ideal for long mountain hikes, endless beach-combing, or simply enjoying a slower pace of life. In the warmest months from May to September the beach is perfect for swimming. The region also features numerous onsen hot springs, with the highest concentration of natural hot springs in all of Japan in nearby Beppu.
Simplicity, authenticity, and quiet beauty best describe Shōganji. It is a way of life, rich in spirit and culture. Surrounded by beautiful bamboo forest and only a 5 minute walk from the beach, this idyllic location is the perfect setting to meditate, study Zen, or just experience traditional Japanese village life. Getting AroundShōganji Zen Retreat is located in tiny Ojuki Village, part of the fishing village cluster called Saganoseki, just east of the city of Oita, in Oita prefecture, on Kyushu island, the southernmost large island of Japan.
Kozaki station (near OITA city) is your final destination, the closest train station to the retreat, only a 10 minute drive away. We will come and pick you up there.
Consider letting us know precisely when you will arrive at Kozaki station so we can be better prepared to pick you up. There is not much near Kozaki station to keep you entertained, so you will not want to hang around there for long. It is also a good idea to have our telephone numbers with you at all times so you can reach us in case of any unexpected changes or delays.
Once you book and confirm your stay you'll have access to our dedicated website with full details on getting here and getting around in the area. Other Things to NoteWhy we require a Five Day Minimum Stay:
Shoganji is not just a place to sleep.
Our purpose is to provide a very particular cultural experience and a chance for people to experience Zen meditation in an authentic fashion.
Most people stay a week or more in order to have the full experience offered here; settle into the special rhythm of this place and experience the effects of meditation. This is not really possible in just a night or two. In addition, the retreat is not on the tourist trail. It's a lot of effort to get out here for only a short stay.
Shoganji is not a hotel or hostel. It is a very special homestay experience with a unique and engaged host; an experience offering immersion access deep into a part of Japanese culture rarely experienced by foreigners.
Shoganji is not a monastery. It is, rather, a fully functional Zen Buddhist temple serving 70 families in the area. It has only one full time monk (Jiho Kongo). It’s pretty quiet most days, but regularly serves as a community center for various important dates on the Buddhist calendar and Buddhist services.