Top 10 Meditation Retreats In Japan

meditation retreat in japan
Chandana
Chandana 
Published

The Japanese countryside is perfect for a rejuvenating break from mundane chores and daily life. The serene environs make it easier to look within and recuperate or explore spirituality. The presence of various schools of Buddhism, especially Zen Buddhism, not only aid the cause, but also provides ideal settings for imbibing traditional lifestyles, customs, and arts. Meditation retreats afford a doorway to your conscience. By learning the art of meditation, coupled with yoga and other similar practices, you get the opportunity to align your mind and body. The solitude at meditation retreats, intertwined with peer support, evokes mindfulness and a deeper understanding within. So, check out this list of the top 10 meditation retreats in Japan to begin your journey.

1. Shunkoin Temple, Kyoto

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Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 663highland used under CC BY 2.5

Shunkoin temple is nestled within the Myoshin-ji Temple complex in Kyoto. This 16th-century Zen temple presents an ideal setting to explore Zen meditation and mindfulness. It offers a variety of programs, each conducted in English by experienced practitioners. Zen meditation or zazen is offered in regular and advanced levels. Zazen may be accompanied by a temple tour. Special sessions are offered for individuals, academic and corporate groups. Partake in a tea ceremony in the meditative atmosphere of this historic temple. Calligraphy is also taught here. Accommodation facility is provided in the Japanese-styled guesthouse with shared access to kitchen and dining areas. Open to all, Shunkoin temple also hosts weddings and ceremonies.

Shunkoin Temple, Kyoto

Price: 60 USD

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2. Shōganji Zen Retreat, Oita

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This homestay-style retreat offers quaint cottages within the Shōganji temple in Ojuki village near Oita. Nestled among lush bamboo forests and located near a beach, Shōganji offers a peaceful atmosphere to experience the Zen way of life. It also brings you close to life in a traditional Japanese village. It offers zazen, healing sessions, yoga, and philosophical counseling with experienced practitioners. A daily schedule here involves zazen, tea time/intermittent fasting and samu or service to the temple in the morning, followed by flexible afternoons and evenings. Participate in Zen study or koan, green tea ceremony or, local Buddhist festivals. Through samu you get to learn gardening and Japanese cooking, among other things. Several other activities including hiking, swimming, onsen visits, and sightseeing are also offered at this retreat.

Shōganji Zen Retreat, Oita

Price: from 80 USD

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3. Zen Meditation Retreat, Oita

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This retreat is situated right next to the GyaTeiJi temple in Hiji village, Oita. Its set in a serene mountainside locality and offers scenic ocean views. Practice zazen and samu in the temple, where you can also observe the local culture. You’ll be accommodated in the traditional home of a Zen monk and will be served delicious Japanese meals. Under the guidance of the hosts, you can learn Zen Buddhism and the art of tea ceremony, Japanese calligraphy and kimono dressing. The retreat also offers Japanese cooking lessons and local sightseeing or hiking. Its flexible schedule provides you ample time to appreciate the solitude. While here, make sure to visit the onsen in Beppu town and explore the locale.

Zen Meditation Retreat, Oita

Price: from 90 USD

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4. Horakuan, Nagano

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Horakuan is a Zen Buddhist retreat center that sits tucked into the Suzaka hills of Nagano prefecture. Several events and programs are held here regularly. It offers three retreat programs – Zen, Silence and Meditation, and Creativity Retreat. Every retreat program has meditation at its core, with other activities like samu, chanting, shabutsu or sutra tracing, creative activities, and talks. Day programs also include tea ceremonies, yoga workshops, and counseling sessions. In April and October, pilgrimage walks are offered. Imbibe the tranquil atmosphere and explore within through various forms of meditation, including zazen, sound meditation, and meditation in nature. Accommodation is provided on site and includes nourishing vegetarian meals, too.

Horakuan, Nagano

Price: from 57 USD

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5. Ekoin, Wakayama Prefecture

Kongobuji Temple, Koyasan, Japan - Banryutei rock garden
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Koyasan Shukubo Ekoin is a 1,200-year-old Buddhist monastery. It’s centrally located in Koyasan, within a walking distance to Okunoin cemetery, Kongobuji temple and Mount Koya. This retreat offers different type of rooms, each fitted with tatami-mats and traditional futon beds. In the temple’s large hall, you can learn meditation under the guidance of Buddhist monks or practice yoga. Ajikan meditation, Buddhist sutra writing, and Okunoin night visit are offered as part of your stay. Besides tending to your soul, heal your body with Shojin Ryori, Buddhist vegetarian meals, and hot spring baths. Read about esoteric Buddhism and meditation in the library and enjoy serene walks in the garden. Memorial services and Goma fire rituals are also conducted here.

Ekoin, Wakayama Prefecture

Price: from 48 USD

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6. Kadampa Meditation Center, Tokyo

Meditation class
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Located in Daikanyama-cho quarters of Tokyo, Kadampa Meditation Center is open to people from all walks of life. It teaches modern Buddhism with practical methods to transform your daily life. It provides training in meditation and Buddhist study. Special courses and retreats are also offered for deeper understanding, alleviation of pain and suffering, besides helping improve your personal growth. Training and courses are offered in English and Japanese. The meditation classes are interspersed with guided meditation, short prayers, teachings on daily life and discussions. Its foundation program gives you an opportunity to systematically learn particular subjects of Mahayana Buddhism.

Kadampa Meditation Center

Price: from 24 USD

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7. Taiyōji Temple, Saitama

Nishizawa-Valley
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Leave behind the 21st century and enter the tranquil space of this isolated temple located deep within the Chichibu Mountains in Saitama. In the spiritual environment of Shukubo, with beautiful views of the surrounding forests of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, you’ll experience the Zen concept of ‘learn from nature, let nature teach you’. The morning routine involves sutra chanting, zazen, and breakfast. In your free time, enjoy the solitude, practice yoga or sama and explore your surroundings. In the evenings, sutra copying, Shojin Ryori dinner, sutra chanting, and sermons will keep you busy. You can soak in the hot open bath under the starry sky before calling it a night.

Taiyōji Temple

Price: from 90 USD

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8. Dairyuji, Akita

Sunset view of Oga Peninsula
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Dairuji is a Zen Buddhist temple located on Oga peninsula, Akita. It offers Zen mindfulness retreats twice a year, on weekends, in the spring and fall seasons. This retreat offers an opportunity to re-balance life through meditation and yoga. Its considerate schedule provides enough time to explore the locale, visit an onsen and watch the sunset. Zazen and walking meditation sessions are conducted in English. Its yoga program focuses on mind-body connectivity than just the right poses. During your stay, you will sleep on Japanese futons in shared tatami rooms. Apart from five meals, dinner on Saturday will be at a local Izakaya restaurant accompanied by a superb drum performance.

Dairyuji, Akita

Price: from 500 USD

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9. Hoshinoya Karuizawa

紅葉の白糸の滝 (Shiraito falls in autumn) 26 Oct, 2014 - panoramio
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Set within a rich ecosystem near Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary and Shiraito falls, Hoshinoya resort village offers a tranquil setting for physical and spiritual relaxation. It has a wide array of accommodation options and each guest pavilion provides unique intimacy with nature, be it through its architecture or the lush surroundings. Kasuke, the on-site restaurant, offers Japanese cuisine infused with seasonal ingredients. Soak in the Tombo-no-Yu hot spring for skin benefits or try the meditation bath for serenity. Restore your physical and spiritual alignments with spas in a natural backdrop. You can also hike the forest, go horseback riding on Mount Asama, or simply explore the resort.

Hoshinoya Karuizawa

Price: from 153 USD

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10. Yoga Kuukan Retreats, Ishigaki

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Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Craig Nagy used under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Yoga Kuukan is a traveling studio that has recently moved to Kamakura, Japan. It offers workshops, and private sessions in Kamakura and Ishigaki. It focuses on yoga, qigong, tai chi, and the therapeutic aspects of these. Aiming to improve personal health and growth, it also offers meditation, somatic yoga, self-care qigong, self-healing qigong, yoga alignment, and chi breathing programs. Learn and practice in a friendly atmosphere under internationally trained teachers. Its private sessions are open to both beginners and advanced practitioners. Its retreat programs are tailor-made and are mostly conducted by the seaside, offering a calming environment to de-stress and rejuvenate.

Yoga Kuukan Retreats, Ishigaki

Price: from 57 USD

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Commune with your inner self in Japan

Meditation paves the path to a way of life removed from stress and suffering. Meditation retreats act as a means of connecting with your inner-self. Set on a journey inwards towards the self at one of these top 10 best meditation retreats in Japan.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Chandana is a versatile writer with nearly two decades of experience in media, spanning clients across the globe. An avid traveler, she enjoys experiencing every new place to the fullest. Having...Read more

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