Interesting article, give it a read! – https://www.forbes.com/sites/lauriewerner/2018/07/31/you-can-now-stay-in-the-sacred-temples-of-kyoto/#556bd0187102
You Can Now Stay In The Sacred Temples Of Kyoto
Kyoto is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and certainly in Japan, but one of the city’s residents felt that it was missing something. “Kyoto is getting crowded with new hotels, hostels and rental machiya houses but we believed that those accommodations still lack the spirit of Kyoto’s unique culture,” says Ken Yokoyama, Director of Welft Hospitality and former General Manager of the Hyatt Regency Kyoto. “So we wanted guests who stayed with us to really experience Kyoto’s lifestyle and traditions.”
Kounji Temple, one of the Buddhist temples available for overnight stays,COURTESY OF WELFT HOSPITALITY
The company’s way of achieving that is to work with private owners and supporting foundations to rent out zen temples and historic cultural properties as guest accommodations. In the case of the five zen temples in the company’s portfolio, none of which are generally open to the public, the accommodation is only part of the experience: a stay there also includes a monk’s lecture on zen philosophy, zazen meditation, a zen tea ceremony, sutra chanting in the morning, and vegetarian hand-made shojin ryori, the diet of the Buddhist monks.
The interior of Ninnaji Temple.COURTESY OF WELFT HOSPITALITY
One of their temples which became available to them in April has royal lineage. Ninnaji temple is a World Heritage site associated with the imperial family of Japan, founded in 888 by the Emperor and is the main temple of the Omuro School of the Shingon sect of Buddhism.. Due to wars and fires, those original buildings didn’t survive but the current ones, dating to the early 1600’s, were built in a similar style derived from the Imperial Palace. Special assets of the property are the surrounding cherry trees which tend to bloom late in cherry blossom season in April, a tea room designed for the Emperor and an elaborate walled garden with a pond. Guests have the option of doing a special dinner in the Shinden, or central building overlooking the garden.
Part of the accommodation within Ninnaji Temple.COURTESY OF WELFT HOSPITALITY
According to Yokoyama, the properties were made accessible in order to protect them; most of the income earned from overnight stays goes back to the temples and their sponsors. And while they’re not able to offer the full services of a typical hotel, he thinks they offer something the hotels can’t—a culturally rich, private experience that really explores the culture. It’s not for everyone but the guests who have chosen this for their stay in Kyoto seem to appreciate it. “When they leave, they have smiles on their faces,” he says.