Shukubo: The Japanese temples where you can sleep alongside monks

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(Image credit: John S Lander/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Ekoin Temple Gate, Koyasan

There is perhaps no more immersive spiritual experience in Japan than spending the night at a Buddhist temple surrounded by monks.


In the serene world of Japanese Buddhist monks, life takes on a distinctive form, interwoven with discipline and mindfulness. These monks subscribe to a unique method of meditation, often sitting upright, supported only by a modest cushion. In this position, they uphold a constant state of awareness, embodying the Buddhist quality of prolonged concentration. This approach to faith is just one facet of a monk’s lifestyle, which revolves around spiritual dedication and mindfulness.

Their days typically commence with pre-dawn meditation, followed by a simple breakfast composed of vegetarian or vegan offerings. As the sun rises, the monks chant to foster self-awareness and inner peace.

WATCH: Lucy Edwards embraces a world without sight during her visit to a Buddhist temple in Hiroshima

For those seeking to immerse themselves in this tranquil way of life, some temples in Japan offer accommodations known as shukubo or “to sleep with the monks”. These lodging options offer visitors a taste of monastic living, including a glimpse into monks’ meditative practices. At each shukubo, guests are enveloped in a minimalist and focused approach to daily life. It’s an echo of the very essence of Buddhist teachings and offers an immersive cleanse from one’s fast-paced daily routine.

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Text by Nylah Lee.

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