Visit Gokurakuji Temple near the famous spa town Kinosaki Onsen. After a walking tour, see the temple grounds, including the superb Japanese rock garden. Try zazen, listen to a sermon, and relish matcha green tea while chatting with the head priest.
The Kinosaki district offers the best of Japan. Here you'll experience the genuine traditional culture that attracts people from all over the world. First, you'll meet your local English-speaking guide at Kinosaki Onsen Station. Then you'll set out on a guided walking tour through Japan's famous resort town, Kinosaki Onsen. After a thoughtful stroll through the hot spring resort area, you'll visit Gokurakuji Temple. This temple is famous for its beautiful traditional Japanese rock garden. Japanese rock gardens—also known as zen gardens—are miniature landscapes featuring a careful arrangement of rocks, water, moss, and groomed trees or shrubs. These gardens employ gravel or sand raked to mimic ripples in water. Your tour of the garden and the temple grounds will put you in the mood for the rest of your experience here. (For a more authentic experience, try swapping your clothes for a 'Samue'—a Buddhist monk's traditional work clothes—before trying your hand a zazen meditation.) Next, you'll listen to an authentic Buddhist sermon. A temple priest will present his lecture in Japanese, supported by English text that will allow you can follow along while staying in the mood provided by the original language. After a thoroughly Japanese Buddhist spiritual experience, you'll have an extraordinary opportunity to enjoy a lovely cup of matcha green tea and Japanese sweets while chatting with the priest. Relax and discuss your thoughts and impressions in an intimate conversation with the priest. Samue Made from lightweight fabric with a roomy design, a Samue offers excellent freedom of movement, making it ideal for relaxation and, of course, zazen meditation. First worn by working monks, the Samue has become popular among artists, and students. The jacket is secured by simple ties—one on the inside and another on the outside. Zazen Zazen meditation rests at the very heart of Zen practice. Zen is known as the meditation school of Buddhism. Essentially, zazen is the study of the self. Upon his enlightenment, Buddha practiced seated meditation. Thus Zen practice employs the same seated meditation. For 2,500 years that meditation has continued, passed on from generation to generation. Zen spread from India to China to Japan, and then to other parts of Asia. A straightforward practice, zen meditation is easy to follow. Modern people tend to see the body and mind separately. However, zazen meditation brings the mind and body together as one reality. Be sure to pay close attention to the position of your body as the body communicates both outwardly to the world and inwardly to oneself. How you position your body has a lot to do with what happens with your mind. The most effective positioning of the body for the practice of zazen is the stable, symmetrical position you observe in the seated Buddha. Sitting on the floor is recommended because it is grounded. We use a zafu—a small pillow—to raise the behind just a little so that the knees can touch the ground. With your bottom on the pillow and two knees touching the ground, you form a tripod base that is natural, grounded, and stable. Zazen and Matcha Experience with Private Nursery School Tour Gokurakuji Temple is a special place where you can glimpse extraordinary Japanese culture. Adjacent to this quiet and lavish temple, the head priest has created a nursery school for local children. At Kinosaki Kodomoen (Kinosaki Nursery Center), you'll see cheerful children having fun while playing and learning. Providing a vibrant, fun environment for the area's children, Kinosaki Kodomoen first opened in 1953. Building on years of success and trust, Kinosaki Kodomoen established a vibrant nursery school. Employing the best of traditions and innovations, the school works with local parents and residents to provide daycare and education for a brighter future.
- All tours start at Kinosaki Onsen Station and end at Gokurakuji Temple - Please find your way to your next destination from Gokurakuji Temple