The Way of Zen Special Private Experience

October 21, 2022

Experience and Learn About Zen in a Private Space
An Exclusive Zen Experience at Shunkoin Temple

Guests enter the temple from the ceremonial Chinese-style gate (karamon), traditionally used only for ceremonies. They proceed into the prayer hall (hōjō), a designated Important Cultural Property. This building becomes the setting for guests’ individual, private Zen experience.

Rev. Takafumi Zenryu Kawakami begins with a philosophy lecture in English, and continues into a guided meditation session followed by zazen, a form of independent Zen meditation. The session with nanso meditation, which is a combination of body scanning and self-compassion meditation. This was practiced by Hakuin Eikaku (1686-1769), the patriarch instrumental in reviving the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism in the eighteenth century.

Guests will see artworks and artifacts from the late-Edo period in the prayer hall. The building looks out over a dry-landscape garden that was modeled after the Grand Shrine of Ise and its surrounding environs. Nineteenth-century gold-leaf paintings by Kanō Eigaku, of the famed Kanō school of painters active in Kyoto, grace the sliding screens in the building. Guests find pleasure in the works of Kyoto traditional crafts (Asahiyaki ceramics, metalworks from Kaikado and Kanaami Tsuji, Karacho paperworks, etc.), all of which were exclusively customized for this experience at Shunkoin. Using these handmade utensils, guests will enjoy the experience of making tea in a traditional way with specially blended tea leaves from EN TEA. Afterwards, guests are served matcha from Asahiyaki teabowls made by Yūgensai Matsubayashi, the 16th generation head of this famed ceramic tradition.

Zen is culture. With this experience, available only in Kyoto and only at Shunkoin, our hope is that guests will learn about the past, present and future of this cultural phenomenon and carry it forward to enrich their daily lives.

The program is also available in the evening, when the garden is lit up. The interior of the hōjō will also be softly illuminated with lamps that mimic candle light, making the golden screen paintings glow.

Since this is private program, guests can customize their experience based on the season or with any special requests. Tea ceremony, Japanese calligraphy classes, koto (Japanese string instrument) performance and shōjin (Buddhist vegan) cuisine are customizable options with additional fees.

The Way of Zen Special Zen Temple Experience

  • Private experiences are a minimum of two hours.
  • Participants are limited to five per group (one group per day, day or night session)
  • Fees available upon request.
  • For further information, please contact Shunkoin.