Travelling in Japan can be challenging, especially if its your first time.
Hi, I’m Pierre Black, Zen Retreat’s Online Coordinator.
I’m a Canadian naturopath have spent a total of 2 years living at Shōganji.
All questions and booking inquiries can be directed to ShoganjiZenRetreat@gmail.com (email replies may take up to 24 hours, although I do my best to reply faster.)
If you would like detailed, personalized travel planning assistance, we can arrange a live video session together HERE. I can help you:
– choose and book the very best transportation options for your situation.
– help you plan and schedule additional travel in the region or around Japan.
– answer in depth any questions or concerns you have about your stay at the retreat in advance of your arrival. I’m also a meditation and wellness coach.
Shōganji Zen Retreat is located in tiny Ojuki Village, part of the fishing village cluster called Saganoseki, just east of the city of Oita, in Oita prefecture, on Kyushu island, the southernmost large island of Japan.
The red arrow marks Shōganji Zen Retreat on the map below. Use map controls to zoom in or out, or drag to view the surrounding area.
Closest Train Station to the retreat is Kōzaki station (near Oita)
All train tickets in Japan can generally be purchased on the day of travel. That means that, generally speaking, you do not need to book train travel in advance. Trains run frequently and constantly throughout the day and ticketing staff will advise you of the most efficient route. Exceptions include major holidays such as golden week when it may be advisable to get tickets a few days before
The 2 closest airports to Zen Retreat are Oita (OIT) or Fukuoka (FUK).
OITA airport (OIT) is the closest to the retreat. Oita airport is primarily a DOMESTIC AIRPORT, so you are more likely to find suitable flights when you are travelling to the retreat from elsewhere within Japan.
OITA airport (OIT) to Zen Retreat:
Total travel time: about 2 hours of combined bus and train travel. Take the bus from Oita airport (60 to 75 minutes, JPY1000-1500 fare) to Oita central train station, and then take the train about 30 minutes to Kōzaki station.
FUKUOKA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (FUK) is the next closest airport to the retreat after Oita. It is a little-known international travel hub and it is an excellent option with good connections when arriving from outside Japan. If your primary destination in Japan is our retreat or the Kyushu region, then we strongly suggest you search for Fukuoka as your arrival city in Japan when searching for flights. It is often much more time and cost effective than the other popular international hubs like Tokyo.
Fukuoka Intl. Airport (FUK) to Zen Retreat: Total travel time from Fukuoka airport to the retreat is about 3 hours and the entire route is by train.
Note: Don’t fly from Fukuoka to Oita airport! There is no benefit in terms of travel time and the train from Fukuoka to the retreat is generally much more convenient and inexpensive.
Your Arrival at the Retreat
We prefer to come and pick guests up at Kōzaki station, and we generally do so. But is possible we will not be able to. Consider letting us know approximately when you will arrive at Kōzaki station so we can be better prepared to pick you up.
You must call from Kōzaki station when you arrive there. We will not come to wait at the station based on predicted arrival times. Call Jiho at 097 575 2150 or 090 9496 0648 from the payphone in the parking lot outside Kōzaki station.
Occasionally, we may ask you to take a taxi from Kōzaki to the retreat. This will cost you about Y1500 ($15.USD). This would only happen if retreat staff are unavailable to come and get you. Its a very good idea to have a copy of the business card for the retreat with you to show the taxi driver to avoid confusion. The business card, and other important arrival information for confirmed guests, can be found on this page.
There is not much near Kozaki station to keep you entertained, so you will not want to hang around there for long. It is also a good idea to have our telephone numbers with you at all times so you can reach us in case of any unexpected changes or delays. Call Jiho at 097 575 2150 or 090 9496 0648. (Please use these only to arrange pickup or for contact during your stay at the retreat. For general inquiries prior to your arrival, please email us instead!)
Most importantly, don’t stress about being absolutely sure about your pickup beforehand. Do make sure you have the phone numbers with you. Do ask the friendly locals for help if you need it. This is Japan; relax and enjoy the adventure.
Checkin and Checkout Times
CHECK-IN: It’s essential that you organize your travel around our very liberal check-in times: 9:00 -21:00. You must arrive between 9:00 and 21:00 (9pm). Please DO NOT arrive for check-in or call for pickup before 9:00am or after 21:00 (9pm). Please organize your travel accordingly, and please don’t ask us if you can extend these times. These are strict limits at the retreat because we are either sleeping or meditating during these times. Please respect this. If you encounter some unusual delay arriving at the retreat before 21:00, please call AND email to let us know. In exceptional circumstances, and IF YOU LET US KNOW YOU WILL BE LATE, we can receive you as late as 23:00 (11pm).
(Please do not call or arrive after 23:00 (11pm) as everyone will be sleeping. You will need to make alternative lodging arrangements in this case and arrive at the retreat the following day.)
CHECK-OUT time is anytime before 21:00, although we ask that you show courtesy and consideration to other guests on your arrival and departure day by vacating your room in the early afternoon. But you are welcome to enjoy the retreat meals and facilities throughout the day until 21:00 as you wish.
Please read carefully and print the following page: Arrival Day at the Retreat.
Kōzaki Station <> Shōganji Zen Retreat:
Local Bus Schedules from the retreat/Ojuki village <> Kozaki station:
Buses from the bus stop on the main road near the retreat to Kozaki station.
Busses from Kozaki station to Ojuki village where Shoganji is located.
note that on public holidays Saturday schedule applies.
In Depth Travel Planning
ARRIVAL VIA TOKYO: Many visitors, especially from the west, are most likely to enter Japan via Tokyo. This is great if you would like to spend some time there, or if you like the idea of a tour by train of the points of interest between Tokyo and the retreat.
If your sole destination in Japan is Shōganji Zen Retreat, we suggest you fly into either Fukuoka or Oita.
Should you get a TRAIN PASS? If your sole destination in Japan is the retreat, and your retreat stay is longer than 7 days, the popular JR train pass is generally not advisable. Just buying regular tickets is the best deal. If your sole destination in Japan is the retreat, and your retreat stay is less than 7 days, the train pass may be of interest since you can use it for both coming and going from the retreat. It’s important to determine the costs of your intended route without the train pass and then compare the costs to that of the train pass. Train passes are generally only worthwhile if you will be visiting some other locations in Japan and/or stopping for a few days here and there along the route to Zen Retreat. Even one stop along the way may make it worthwhile however. For example, if you are coming to the retreat from Tokyo or Osaka, and you wish to spend a day in Kyoto, Hiroshima or Nagasaki, you will already be saving money. It is generally not very useful to have an active train pass during your stay at the retreat since we only rarely use the train for off-site activities, and the distances are fairly short.
The 2 closest airports to Zen Retreat are Oita (OIT) or Fukuoka (FUK). Your travel time and costs once you land will be similar for both cities, therefore we suggest taking the least expensive airfare. The problem with flying into these 2 cities is that the major airlines and third-party travel booking websites do not always offer the best prices on the domestic leg of your travel to the retreat. You will very likely find it cheaper to book an international flight into a major city, and then book your domestic travel separately, either another flight or the train.
Although Oita city centre is much closer to Zen Retreat than Fukuoka, the Oita airport is quite far away from the city centre. The bus ride from the airport to Oita central station is about 75 minutes, and there is no train option. Once at Oita central train station, you will then need to take a train to Kozaki station (about 30 minutes). The total cost here is about $25USD one way, including both the bus and train components.
Fukuoka is a major travel hub for Japan and the eastern hemisphere. Many people prefer to fly into Fukuoka since you can take the train the entire route from Fukuoka airport to Kōzaki station. This takes between 2.5 and 3.5 hours, depending on the exact route, and there are either 2 or 3 transfers. This route is slightly more expensive and longer, but many people still prefer it for comfort. Flights into Fukuoka are also typically a little cheaper and arrive directly from many other countries in the eastern hemisphere. If your flight arrives in the evening and you are forced to spend the night in Fukuoka before you make your way to the retreat, we recommend that you take the short subway ride to Fukuoka’s central train station called Hakata station and choose a hotel in that area. There are many advantages to staying near Hakata; lower hotel prices, as well as huge variety of dining and shopping possibilities to make your stop more fun.
Tokyo and Osaka: Train travel to the retreat from Tokyo or Osaka is about 8 hours and 5 hours respectively, and costs approximately $200USD +/-.
TOKYO to the retreat by train is about 6 – 8 hours travel time. There are multiple trains throughout the day and tickets can generally be purchased on the day of travel.
There are also flights from both of Tokyo’s major airports to both Oita and Fukuoka. These can be much less expensive than the train if using the budget airlines, however, limited flight times or fully booked flights on short notice may be a limiting factor. Japan’s standard domestic airlines, JAL and ANA, offer more frequent flights but the cost is similar to, or higher than, the train.
OTHER CITIES: From other major cities in Japan, the situation is similar to that described above for Tokyo, although with varying travel times. Be sure to compare all your options for the travel plan that suits you best.
Alternately there are inexpensive flights from Tokyo or Osaka directly to Oita on Jetstar.com. These cost about $100USD after all fees and luggage charges. Costs for these flights are highly variable. This link may be useful as well to explore some other Japanese domestic airlines.
If this is the case, and your best/cheapest flight packages get you in too late, I can provide additional details on making the best of this. It’s best to plan for this in advance so that you can stay somewhere interesting.
Are you finding all this a little confusing? Having trouble determining the best way to get to and from the retreat? It’s to be expected as the retreat is a little out of the way and off the tourist trail. The best way to travel will depend of what your priorities are (time, cost, comfort) and where else you are planning to in Japan.
If you would like detailed, personalized travel planning assistance, we can arrange a live video session together HERE.
It is essential to confirm your dates of stay in advance and submit the completed APPLICATION.
To do so CONTACT US via email at ShoganjiZenRetreat@gmail.com
Our mailing address at Zen Retreat is:
Shōganji Zen Temple, Jiho Kongo, 269 Shūki Ōita-shi, Ōita-ken, 879-2115, JAPAN