The first of its kind in Japan, this opportunity is perfect for anyone who needs to refresh the body and the mind.

On March 14, Japanese homestay company Familyinn launched a first-of-its-kind service platform called Tera Ango. “Tera” means “temple” and “ango” is the term for a Buddhist meditation retreat in Japanese. This new service doesn’t just offer the chance for a short-term escape, however, but the chance to actually live and take part in daily life, including certain ascetic practices, at a Buddhist temple over an extended time. 

The idea for Tera Ango came about as Japan has seen a decrease in the number of people who both visit Buddhist temples and financially support them over the past several years. The absence of overseas tourists paying to stay in pilgrim’s lodgings throughout the pandemic has also hit hard. Tera Ango hopes to revive interest in temples while also forging new connections with local communities, especially among younger generations.

The list of specific temples across Japan that are partnering with Tera Ango currently stands at four (already one more than at its launch), with plans to continue expanding. Each location offers slightly different expectations and opportunities, including cleaning and cooking duties, meditation, and sutra reading, as well as accessibility for children and non-Japanese speaking foreign guests to stay. Therefore, it’s important to check the details carefully for each location to find the most suitable fit for you.

Here’s a brief overview of the four temples where you can live as of this writing.

Koyasan Ekoin (高野山 恵光院) / Ito District, Wakayama Prefecture
Rent: 85,000 yen (US$696) per month

The Buddhist priests at Ekoin are largely in their 20s and 30s, including the incredible dancing monk that we featured not too long ago. Ekoin also offers the exciting chance to recite sutras in front of the daily fire ritual (“gomagyo”).

Kawase Kannon Entsuji (川瀬観音 円通寺) / Yame District, Fukuoka Prefecture
Rent: 50,000 yen per month

Dubbing itself a “natural therapy salonhouse,” Entsuji is a great choice for anyone who wishes to reconnect with nature. Unique perks include the chance to try farming and experience the on-site sauna.

Koninji (弘仁寺) / Sado City, Niigata Prefecture
Rent: 40,000 yen per month

Koninji is located on Sado Island, particularly famous for housing a conservation center for the Japanese crested ibis (“toki”). One of the main draws of Koninji is the opportunity to try copying sutras (“shakyo”) and tracing Buddhist images (“shabutsu”).

Kakurinbo (覚林坊) / Minamikoma District, Yamanashi Prefecture
Rent: 50,000 yen per month

The latest addition to the list, Kakurinbo is located in Yamanashi Prefecture, not far outside of Tokyo. It prides itself as being a place to meet all different kinds of people.

Guests can reserve their stay at one of these temples for a minimum of one month. Renewal for the next month is automatic, so you must tell staff of your plans to leave at least five days before departure.

Requesting a stay is very simple and can be done by adding Tera Ango’s official account on LINE as a friend or over its website. There’s also a request form if there’s a particular temple at which you would like to stay. Certain temples may require a brief online interview before accepting your application.

For more ideas on different ways to enrich your temple-visiting experiences in general, see our temple tour recommendations here.

Sources: PR Times, Tera Ango
Images: PR Times
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