Accommodations and Meals
Although there is some variation in accommodations from year to year, students spend the majority of their time living in temple hostels, especially Koshoji, headquarters temple of a sub-sect of True Pure Land Buddhism in Kyoto. In this setting, students gain firsthand experience through both observation and participation in the major Japanese Buddhist traditions of Zen, Shingon, and True Pure Land (Shin), including meditation, ritual practice, and academic study.
Participants are also afforded the opportunity to visit and train in such other temples as: Hokyoji, Eiheiji and Antaiji for Soto Zen; Tenryuji and Myoshinji in Kyoto for Rinzai Zen; and Muryoko-in on Mount Koya for Shingon. Additionally, there is an opportunity to experience mountain asceticism (Shugendo), including undergoing waterfall purification rituals. The program also assists students interested in visiting the remaining temples on the Saigoku pilgrimage route or making a second traditional pilgrimage to the island of Shikoku during the research period.
Please note that because program participants stay in temples and temple hostels, their lifestyle will differ considerably from what they might be used to in the United States. Part of the immersion process in this program is engaging in a lifestyle similar to that of a Japanese religious pilgrim. For example, while male and female participants will always have separate living quarters, they will often sleep together in larger groups. Thick, padded floor bedding spread out on woven mats plus Japanese bathing and restroom facilities are other differences.
While residing in temples and monasteries, it will be necessary for students to follow the five basic Buddhist precepts:
- To abstain from taking life
- To abstain from theft
- To abstain from sexual misconduct
- To abstain from lying
- To abstain from intoxicants
Some may feel these requirements to be too rigorous. Experience has shown, however, that an individual consistently deviating from this code lacks the clarity of mind necessary for full participation in this intensive program. The culture and environment of the temples support the maintenance of these precepts.
Please contact us with any questions you might have on program accommodations.