Shōganji Zen Retreat

Experience authentic Zen temple life in rural Japan

Guest Orientation Page

Shōganji Zen Retreat

Guest Orientation Package

Shōganji Zen Buddhist Temple, 269 Shūki, Ōita-shi, Ōita-ken, 879-2115, JAPAN. • email:



Welcome to Shōganji Zen Retreat!


To familiarize you with your new surroundings at Shōganji temple we offer you this simple guide to understanding and participating in Japanese temple life.  If you have any other questions or points that you think might be helpful, please let us know. Please pay special attention to notes labeled: * Essential Japanese Etiquette.
Other important guidelines are also marked with an asterisk ( * ).

Thanks for your participation!

WiFi Access at the retreat:
network: WARPSTAR-F37A93  (not the same one with -W at the end)
password: FD98D51518286


Important note: By booking a stay at Shōganji Zen Retreat and choosing to stay at Shōganji Zen Retreat you agree to and consent to the waiver of liability statement found at the end of this document, and which can also be found on our website at



DAILY SCHEDULE Quick Reference:


5:30 – Wake up & chanting in main hall.
6:00 – “Zazen” meditation in main hall, 60 minutes.

7:00 – Tea time and/or personal time.

8:00 – Yoga, fitness practice, or early “samu”.
9:00 – “Samu” or service to the temple. Help out around the retreat.

11:00 – Lunch preparation.

11:30 – Lunchtime.

12:30 – Activities and outings of your chioce.

17:00 – Dinner preparation.

17:30 – Dinner time.

18:30 – Evenings are flexible, relaxed and social.

21:00 – Quiet time. Turn off bright lights.






5:30 – Wake-up and freshen-up in preparation for 6:00am meditation. 30 minutes of chanting by Jiho in the main hall as guests arrive for meditation. We strongly recommend avoiding any strong caffeinated beverages or any food whatsoever until after meditation. We suggest weak tea or water only.
6:00 – Zazen, sitting meditation 60 minutes. (strongly encouraged for all guests) Form and duration of meditation is flexible and accommodating. Our approach is “just try it” and we welcome all levels of experience. For some the challenge may be to just try informal meditation for a short time each day, for others it may be to develop strict form and extend one’s endurance.  For those who find traditional cross-legged sitting form difficult, we have numerous cushion options, stools, chairs, and a couch available to you.


7:00 – Tea time, social time in the kitchen, and/or personal time (bathing, reading, rest, etc.) NO breakfast is suggested based on the NISHI HEALTH SYSTEM and other evidence (see website for more links and information).
Alternately a light breakfast such as fruit or nuts is an option.


8:00 – Options:

1) Independent yoga or fitness practice.
2) Yoga and/or Qi Gong with Pierre (when available).
3) Early Samu, see below…


9:00 – “Samu” or service to the temple. Help out in our large vegetable garden, or wild-harvest special seasonal foods from around the property such as mushrooms, gingko nuts, or bamboo shoots; help out with temple and property maintenance, learn traditional food preparation, etc. Traditionally Samu is slow, quiet, meditative “help around the temple” and typically is part of monastic life in Japan. Here at Shōganji , Samu is often social and learning oriented, but can be more traditional, meditative, and solitary if you prefer. Just ask. We suggest at least one hour of Samu each morning. Your contribution and participation is appreciated!


11:00 – Lunch preparation. Get cleaned up for lunch and/or help us prepare lunch.


11:30 – Lunch time. Your participation is encouraged and appreciated.  Learn some Japanese cooking tips or pick some fresh items from the garden. And, please, help out with the dishes at the end of the meal!


12:30 – Afternoons are flexible and unscheduled but may include independent activities, activities with your host, or activities organized between yourself and other guests. sightseeing, shopping, walks, runs, Yoga, swimming, other exercise, Tai Chi, trips into nearby towns, visits to area Onsen (hot-spring bathing), additional meditation/Zen teaching, and more. Jiho is a very engaged host, open to suggestions, and wants you to get the most out of your time here. Excursions by car with Jiho are common. Alternately you can explore independently or organize something with the other guests.


17:00 – Dinner preparation.  Once again, your participation is encouraged and appreciated.


17:30 – Dinner time. (please help out with clean-up and dishes!)


18:30 – Evenings are flexible, relaxed and social. Many guests may also take this time to read, do an additional evening meditation, bathe, or any other activity of your choice.


21:00 – Quiet time. Turn off bright lights. Unless there’s a party…



Guidelines and Etiquette


Feet and Footware


Outdoor shoes are removed and left in the entrance area.

Very dirty footware should be left outside.


* Essential Japanese Etiquette: Shoes are lined-up and organized in the entryway! Notice how shoes are lined-up in the entrance. This is an important tradition that says a lot about a Japanese household, especially a temple.


“Tatami” or “tatami mats”are the panels of woven natural fiber floor materials seen throughout the retreat. Bare feet or socks should be worn in any area with tatami. Do not wear slippers or any kind of outdoor shoes on the tatami. Make an effort to keep the tatami clean. Use caution with your luggage on the tatami. Wheels, zippers, and buckles may damage or dirty the tatami.

In other indoor areas, without tatami, such as the kitchen, slippers may be worn if you wish.

Please wash your feet outside if they are dirty, for example, after going to the beach.


Vacuum cleaners found at the retreat are generally for the tatami only. Do not use the vacuum cleaners on other types of flooring or in entranceways.


* Please vacuum your room at least once a week! 

Consider helping out with some extra vacuuming around the retreat. This is a good “samu” activity for a rainy day.





* There are many separate garbage cans in the kitchen which are clearly labeled.  There is also a compost bucket near the kitchen sink for any organic waste.  It is important to keep all these items separate. Please familiarize yourself with the different garbage repositories. If you are not sure about something please ask.





Shower controls are precise and do not require force.

If something is not working for you, please ask us how to use the controls correctly.


Please do not take very long showers. Please consider turning down the water flow, turning down the water temperature, or turning the shower off completely during activities such as shaving or soaping up. Please help us reduce water and energy consumption.


If the shower water does not become hot, turn on the power switch (the green button), on the wall panel next to the clothes washing machine.


Please be sure the water is completely turned off when you finish.
(The power switch on the wall panel next to the washer can be left on.)


Please do not leave any personal items, used towels, or washcloths in the shower room.

Wood-fired bathtub


* One should wash and shower thoroughly before getting into the bath itself as the bathwater is shared.


If the water needs heating, ask for help making a fire. Do not build a fire on your own.

The water will take a couple of hours to heat up completely. It is safer to wait until the fire is out before you get into the tub as the tub itself may be very hot. If the bath water is too hot add cold water to the bath from the tap above it.



Onsen visits


Outings to “onsen” or natural hot spring bath houses in the area are frequent, typically every other day.  Bring a large towel to dry off with, a small one to wash with.


* Wash yourself thoroughly using the showers before entering any of the hot spring pools at an onsen.

* Do not place any items, such as washcloths or soap, in the onsen hot spring pools. Bathing suits are not permitted!  Only your clean naked body goes into the hot spring pools. (Don’t worry, most onsen are gender segregated.)


Regarding Tattoos and Onsen admittance: Cover any tattoos you have as you enter an onsen at the front desk area. Some onsen do not “officially” allow tattooed people to enter. This rule is unlikely to be enforced once inside, however, and is more a position of tradition and “public face” than an actual enforced rule. This is due to old-fashioned negative ideas about tattooed people in Japanese society. Most places do not want to be seen to approve publicly of allowing tattooed guests. Again, this is very rarely enforced once you are inside, provided your behavior does not warrant trying to find an excuse. Follow general onsen bathing guidelines and behave quietly and politely, and there are not likely to be any problems



Other Facilities


The temple has both western-style upright toilets and Japanese squat toilets.


Washing-up and brushing teeth is generally done at the large sink near the washing machine, since there is a hot water tap.  You may keep your toothbrushes there in a cup if you wish. Please return the cup to the kitchen and wash it thorough


The temple is equipped with one washing machine for clothing.  It is preferable to do laundry on sunny days, in the morning, as we do not have a dryer. Laundry is hung to dry.





Meal time is a collective experience.  Feel free to make special requests for food and contribute to cooking.  Your participation is encouraged and appreciated.  Learn some Japanese cooking tips or pick some fresh items from the garden. And, please, help out with the dishes at the end of the meal!


* Please try to keep wasted food to a minimum

* Essential Japanese Etiquette: Rice in particular must not go to waste! This is a tradition in Buddhist temples and monasteries. No rice should be left in your bowl.




Please make sure you have a washable sheet between your body and the futon bedding on the bottom and a sheet between your body and the heavier blanket on top. While sheets and pillow cases are freshly washed for each guest, heavier bedding is washed less frequently. Please help us keep these items clean.


Local Transportation:

Local Bus Schedules

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.

Call a Taxi


Order Natural Foods, Supplements, and Cosmetics during your stay…

All Star Health, USA
Shipping time to Japan: about 1 week
The most complete online store we have found all your natural health, supplement, cosmetic, and food products that you have trouble finding in Japan, All Star Health provides rapid, low cost shipping to Japan by Sagawa Express. The lowest prices on the all the best names in natural health, beauty, nutrition, and food products. Melatonin to get over jet lag?  Can’t live without chia seeds? Or coconut oil? Need that very particular supplement? Prices are amazingly low, even with shipping. And choosing the low cost Sagawa Express as your shipping option ensures smooth transit and makes customs delays unheard of. Check out the site here.  Find the shipping address for the retreat HERE.




Philosophy of Shōganji Zen Retreat




Honor Nature.



Purpose in life is found in the actualization of others.



“Koubou ni mo fude no ayamari.”

Even Buddhist teachings scrolls have brush slips.

(Even the greatest expert or master sometimes fails.)




Take care of other people. Help each other. Live altruistically!




Correct the mind! In light of the Noble Eightfold Path.

(For more on The Noble Eightfold Path, see this link, also found on our website: )


一日不作 一日不食

One day bad harvest. One day not eating.
(“A day without work is a day without eating.”)



Be honest with yourself and with others.



Making excuses demonstrates only one’s incompetence.

(Instead just correct yourself and take new action.)



Without challenge in life, your soul may die!



“Hara hachi bun me”  (or hara hachi bu, and sometimes misspelled hari hachi bu), is a Confucian teaching that instructs people to eat until they are 80 percent full. Roughly, in English the Japanese phrase translates to, “Eat until you are eight parts (out of ten) full” or “belly 80 percent full”.



Learn to enjoy hunger.


NO breakfast is suggested based on the NISHI HEALTH SYSTEM and other evidence supporting calorie restriction and periods of fasting.  See the links on our website where this philosophy is discussed on the DAILY SCHEDULE.
If you cannot go without breakfast, a light breakfast such as fruit or nuts is an option.



“Shikkari to shita mejirushi, yume mitsukete makezuni ganbarou.”

I’ll do my best to find my dreams and goals.



Seek your own Buddha nature, Buddha mind.



Zen Retreat Waiver of Liability


By booking a stay at Shōganji Zen Retreat and choosing to stay at Shōganji Zen Retreat you agree to and consent to the following:


Voluntary Participation

I acknowledge that I have voluntarily applied to participate in the Shōganji Zen Retreat centre (, located at 269 Shūki, Ōita-shi, Ōita-ken,
879-2115, JAPAN.


Assumption of Risk

I am aware that participating in the event may involve strenuous physical activities such as yoga, physical work, as well as risks associated with hiking and swimming, including contact with wildlife.  I am also aware that this is an intensive meditation retreat and that the participants in such retreats may experience unusual psychological, physical and/or spiritual states of body and mind arising from the meditation and associated retreat activities.  I am participating in these activities with the full knowledge of the risks involved, and hereby agree to accept any and all risks of harm that may result from these activities.



As consideration for being permitted by the Zen Retreat Centre or one of its affiliates to participate in these activities and use their facilities, I hereby agree that I, my assignees, heirs, distributees, guardians, and legal representatives will not make a claim against, sue or attach the property of Zen Retreat, its affliliates, employees or volunteers or any of its affliliated organizations for injury or damage resulting from acts, howsoever caused, by any employee or contractor of Zen Retreat as a result of my participation at the centre, except when an employee or contractor of Zen Retreat exhibits gross negligence or intentionally acts in a manner likely to lead to my being harmed.  I hereby release the Zen Retreat Centre from all actions, claims or demands that I, my assignees, heirs, distributees, guardians, and legal representatives now have or may hereafter have for injury or damages resulting from my participation in this event, except when an employee or contractor of Zen Retreat Centre exhibits gross negligence or intentionally acts in a manner likely to lead to my being harmed.


Knowing and Voluntary Execution

I have carefully read this agreement and fully understand its contents.  I am aware that this is a release of liability and a contract between myself and the Zen Retreat Centre and/ or its affliliated organizations, and agree to it of my own free will.


By booking a stay at Shōganji Zen Retreat and choosing to stay at Shōganji Zen Retreat you agree to and consent to the preceding waiver of liability statement which can also be found on our website at


Contact Information for Shōganji Zen Retreat, Website:, Email:

Mailing address: Shōganji Zen Temple, 269 Shūki, Ōita-shi, Ōita-ken, 879-2115, JAPAN

In Japan phone: 097 575 2150 or 090 9496 0648. Please do not call the retreat for general information or bookings! If you are overseas, please email us instead.

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