Shōganji Zen Retreat

Experience authentic Zen temple life in rural Japan

Press & reviews

ZenRetreat.com – SHOGANJI ZEN RETREAT

Thoughtful blog by a retreat guest.

“Despite all the capital letters on Truth and Reality, I knew that Zen had a deep respect for the humble goings-on of everyday life. Reality was not somewhere else, some Divine Plane, it was here right now, in the washing of dishes (rarely with soap, Jiho-san advises), in the collection of water from the spring, and in the unearthing of red onions from the field.”

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JOE GEBBIA is a co-founder of AirBnB.com and has visited Shoganji twice. Read his personal blog…

“Imagine waking up to the sound of trees rustling in the wind and birds singing to the sunrise. As you lay in bed, your fingers feel the reeds of the tatami mat underneath your futon, and your eyes gain focus on unidentified Japanese calligraphy across the room. The sound of footsteps passes through the hallway outside your door and you know it’s time to join your host, Hosan, in the temple for an hour of silent meditation.”

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“LET’S GOOD TIMES” A BLOG ABOUT LIVING AND WORKING IN JAPAN

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WANDERCOOKS.com – Cooking Home Grown Food at Shoganji Zen Temple Retreat

“The monk hopped from rock to rock, the waves crashing beneath him. He knew the path well and we hurried to keep up without falling into the swell below. ‘Don’t you know?’ he said, ‘don’t you understand?’. The old copper kettle was whisked away from us and plunged into the sea by Jiho-san, a monk of Shoganji Temple in Ojuki. ‘This is how you make udon noodles. This is the secret.’ ”

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OFF EXPLORING – Zen at Zero degrees

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Zen Like Ben

“Shortly after arriving a car comes zooming around the corner.  Noticing the driver was bald and wearing robes, I soon realized it was my ride.  After brief, informal introductions I learn that Jiho is running behind and asks if I don’t mind helping him perform an Obon ceremony for one of his temple members.  Nodding in agreement, I quickly learn that staying with Jiho was going to be a unique experience.”

From FACEBOOK

Darren Australia reviewed Zenretreat.com – 5 star

11 July 2014 · 

Jiho is a wise teacher and a good man. I highly recommend the experience of staying here, to get the most benefit I recommend coming wth an open mind and a desire to work on yourself. This is not just another Japanese tourist experience but something that could change your life if you let it. There is more to life than just the mundane material world. PS Jiho’s mum is sweet and only 95 years young! I still follow Jiho’s advice, no breakfast, and many mornings I get up early to pull weeds from my own vegetable garden before meditating to the rising sun.

Eduardo Pinheiro  recommends Zenretreat.com.

5 December 2018 · 

Wonderful experience! Jiho is a wise zen monk, a great host and a fantastic cook. The temple is precious and it’s surroundings lovely. I’m very thankful for the opportunity and I wish to come back in a near future!

El Sq reviewed Zenretreat.com – 5 star

2 April 2018 · 

Such a great experience! I wanted to go back as soon as I left! I will do one day!
The temple is a lovely house, feels like home as soon as you come in.
Jiho, the monk, is an incredible man, funny and wise, inspiring in many ways!
Schedule is quite flexible, chores to do but you’re quite free to do what you wish afterwards.
Chanting and meditation in the morning are such graceful moments….

Dee Anne  recommends Zenretreat.com.

1 February 2019 · 

Hands down one of the best experiences in my life. Having lived in Japan for over a year when I visited the retreat, I learnt so much more about the culture and sense of community staying at Shoganji. The dynamic of the retreat changes constantly as old people leave and new people come to stay. You can experience quite an eclectic mix of countries living together, each having their own unique take on lunch and dinner preparations and the philosophies of life. Could not recommend this enough, especially for a solo traveller.

Hayley O’Brien reviewed Zenretreat.com – 4 star

18 March 2016 · 

This temple stay was a very special experience; not only do you see and experience the zen temple life but also the rural japanese lifestyle. Jiho and his mother are true characters and full of information. The property is large, beautiful and in a lovely part of Japan. As previously mentioned in other reviews, you do need to enter with an open mind and the 5 night minimum stay is there for a very good reason. I would personally recommend longer to get the most out of what Ji…

Isabelle Said De Francesco reviewed Zenretreat.com – 5 star

23 December 2016 · 

Since I spent 10 days there for Xmas last year I carry that precious time in my heart.Jiho is an astonishing human being avoiding all the clichés about Buddhism and zen monks.Formidable observer of human nature, life loving and energetic. A very special Xmas that changed me. Each time I am about to give in to stress I just remember what Jiho told us with an amused smile:”it doesn’t matter!”.
Put it on bucket list. As for me I’ll come back as soon as I can!

Ge Zet reviewed Zenretreat.com – 5 star

21 November 2017 · 

I am so glad I came here (allready a year ago, and still learning and profiting from this stay …)
I really hope I may be able to come back one day!
learned so much … and love the place and the people

Melanie Chatfield reviewed Zenretreat.com – 5 star

24 June 2018 · 

This is a wonderful place. Five days felt too short. Thank you to my companions and above all to Jiho-san for making it such a special experience.

Anita Cornelius reviewed Zenretreat.com – 5 star

5 December 2014 · 

This is one of the most wonderful times I had in Japan – authentic rural Zen life, simple and clean, full of Zen Buddhism wisdom through the main monk Jiho and his wonderful mum in her nineties, garden work of contemplation, regular Onsen visits, excursions with Jiho’s incredible local knowledge to his leisure and capacity and so much more – and best of all – lots of space to do nothing and be with myself

Alex Watson reviewed Zenretreat.com – 5 star

28 August 2015 · 

I only stayed for a weekend but I had a wonderful time. I would recommend going for longer (as, indeed, I intend to). I am keeping to Jiho’s advice of eating only until I am seventy per cent full so far (well, most of the time….).

Jennifer O’Brien reviewed Zenretreat.com – 5 star

15 February 2016 · 

We had an incredible week with “Master”! Meditation, yard work, 2 meals per day, sushi, onsen, and life long friendships and learnings! “Invisible Connections” Thank you!

Marta Brambilla reviewed Zenretreat.com – 5 star

11 April 2016 · 

One of the most amazing experiences in my life!!!

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ZenRetreat.com reviews from AirBnB.com

April 2017

Great to live in a different way. Definitely necessary to stay for more than 5 days to get into the swing of life there. Jiho is a very generous and welcoming host. Would go back.

Molly, London, United Kingdom

November 2016

If you’re looking for somewhere to “get away from it all” then this is your place. It is also a very authentic way to experience every day life in Japan. Jiho is a very modern and kind monk who went out of his way to make sure we had a good stay – highlights included visits to local onsen and trying out the local cuisine! The morning ceremony is a great way to clear the mind every morning though it’s probably an idea to have some meditation experience before arriving as it’s zen meditation (ie not guided). Pierre was fantastic at communicating and helping out before and during our stay – Thanks to both of you! Definitely recommend if you’re up for an “experience” and open minded to discovering new things.

Lucinda, London, United Kingdom

October 2016

I’m sure this temple will be one of the most awesome places on Airbnb! The description and website give a good impression of what to expect, but really, you have to check it out yourself to understand how special this place is. Jiho-san and Pierre a wonderful and very generous hosts. Staying with them feels like being part of the family. We felt genuinely nourished by the spiritual energy of the place and our bodies really enjoyed the restfulness and the great meals we prepared together. Oh, and the cool outings of course…. what a precious opportunity to learn more about Japan and its beautiful culture, including the fantastics onsens! Highly recommended in every respect!

Landa, Wellington, New Zealand

October 2016

From the first email until the last goodbye, Pierre made me feel so welcome. The temple is a special place to practice meditation and yoga and get a feel for temple life. Meals were always prepared together so it felt like we were one big family. The field trips to Usuki and Yufuin were just an added bonus. A rare experience for Japan.

Jacob, Cambridge, MA

September 2016

This was by far one the most amazing experiences I’ve had traveling abroad and the best to date on Airbnb. Jiho and Pierre are incredible hosts and go above and beyond to make your stay at the temple incredibly comfortable, genuine and true to the spirit of Siyoganji. The temple itself allows for one to relax, think and immerse yourself in Japanese Zen culture. In addition to meeting Jiho and Pierre, I met other incredible people visiting and will remain friends for years to come. I won’t get…Read more

Pablo, Oakland, CA

September 2016

A wonderful and unique experience – Pierre and Jiho were incredible hosts who went out of the way to make my experience at the temple truly memorable. From picking me up at the station, to incredible meals, daily yoga classes, and an outing to an onsen town – this was an airbnb experience like no other. These guys are providing not just a room but an incredible, and unforgettable experience.

Brigid, New York, NY

August 2016

I had a wonderful stay at Shoganji with Jiho and Pierre. This is a truly unique cultural experience – morning meditation, bountiful communal meals, morning work in the garden, trips to local onsens, and much more. I felt genuinely immersed in the daily life of the temple. I look forward to my next visit!

Tim, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

August 2016

It was a great pleasure to stay 10 days at Shoganji with Jiho and Pierre. meditation yes but not only, Shoganji is a place you feel like home. thank you!

Cecile, Paris, France

June 2016

WOW! This experience surpassed my expectations on all accounts. Pierre and Jiho are the warmest hosts I’ve ever encountered, from being picked up at the train and whisked to an onsen to being dropped off right at the train door – a little teary eyed to leave new friends behind. However long you are planning to stay – add a few days, you’ll want them. The food is beyond words and you’ll learn quite a bit about Japanese cooking. The ritual and routine of meditation, cooking, and temple service draw you right into an authentic experience that you play a hand in creating. This place is a home away from home for those who seek it. Do not let the distance keep from coming – I took the train and that was half the adventure. This is the place to be if you want an inner and outer journey and truly immersive Japanese experience.

Sarah, Fort Worth, TX

June 2016

I had a really wonderful time at Jiho and Pierre’s place! In many ways, it felt like being part of a “little family” (doing meditation & yoga together, then cooking or helping around, plus some activities on afternoons/days depending on the number of people), and it is something I really want to thank them for. Staying in Jiho’s small temple is clearly an unique experience which I recommend! Thanks again Jiho and Pierre for your time and for everything =)

Adrien, Paris, France

April 2016

Wow – what a stay! By far the most unique Airbnb experience I had and I never felt so relaxed and ‘zen’ afterwards. Imagine waking up at 5:45h (after a long sleep, don’t worry) to monk Hosan’s chanting, then meditate for an hour in the temple, have tea and fun with everyone and do some yoga with Pierre afterwards – and then the day has only begun! Excursions, such as to relaxed hot springs for a bath, and really nice lunches and dinners often prepared by Hosan’s 98 year old (!) lovely mother are to follow. Pierre is so friendly, relaxed and open-minded rational guy and monk Hosan is the funnest monk you’ll ever see: he drinks beer and jokes around. All in all, great and unique experience you should all try if you’re up for it. Thanks again!!!

Wouter, Amsterdam, Netherlands

April 2016

If you can make this place and these people, a part of your stay in Japan, do it. Finer company or a more welcoming environment cannot be found. My days here truly enriched my experience of Japan. It is a wonderful place to be alone and an equally wonderful place to share. I am very grateful for my time here and am happy to recommend it to any and all who are looking for a unique and fulfilling travel experience.

Cecily, New York, NY

April 2016

I had a really great time at Shoganji. Jiho was an amazing host and a very inspiring person and was very welcoming and accommodating to myself and the other guests. He treated us like family and was really kind with his time, cooking delicious, healthy food, taking us on daily trips to the local onsen and even driving us to see some of the magical local sights. The daily 5.30am meditation was challenging at the start but really rewarding. I would have liked more meditation. Whilst it was an amazing experience I think the description as a ‘cultural exchange’ is more accurate than a meditation retreat, as we met lots of the lovely locals and it was a very hands on experience of living in a temple in the Japanese countryside. Overall a really fantastic and rewarding and inspiring experience.

Una, London, United Kingdom

October 2015

We absolutely loved our experience at the zen temple. A truly unique experience that can’t be compared to anything else. Meditation, making fresh noodles and trips to the onsens were all apart of the fantastic experience. Me and my Girlfriend really enjoyed the experience and thank Jiho again for his hospitality as well is everyone else at the temple. Word of advice though, bring mosquito repellant as they really enjoy you at night.

Daniel

August 2015

The Zen Buddhist temple was an amazing experience. Jiho-san was a very amazing host and Pierre was very responsive and helpful along the way. The neighbourhood was very quaint and quiet, with a beautiful view of the waterfront. The unique experience is definitely something everyone should consider experiencing.

Julian, Toronto, Canada

July 2015

From the moment Jiho met us at the train station — with his wonderful, heartfelt smile, to the moment he saw us off, with that same kind, warm heart, time seemed to stand still — in a magical, sweet, relaxing, zen-state-of-mind space. This is a welcome, earthy, authentic contrast to the American, high-end-destination spiritual retreats. Not only does a stay at the Zen Temple allow one to learn the gift of “BE-ing in the present moment,” but it also provides a deeper understanding of Japanese culture, history, and religion. Jiho is the penultimate host, answering every conceivable question, spending hours in thoughtful dialogue, preparing nutritious and delicious meals, and making sure you experience the beauties and treasures of the surrounding area. To add even more value to your experience, you will find the few guests who may also be on this soulful journey with you, are so interesting, delightful, and multi-faceted, making for fascinating conversations and moments you never expected from such an adventure. Thank you Jiho (and your dear Mother) for three days of awakening!

Catherine, Angers, France

October 2014

What a one of a kind off the beaten path experience we were so lucky to have! Jiho was an amazing host and made us feel very welcome. We loved every moment. From waking up and meditating, to having peaceful afternoons just reading while it rained. It was magical and fun. The temple is on a beautiful piece of land surrounded by giant trees and moments from the ocean. Everything is so clean and peaceful. The food is absolutely delicious, and you should definitely go to the bath house. I…Read more

Venetia, San Francisco, CA

September 2014

Jiho’s Zen Retreat has been a great experience for three days, deserving more time in my next visit. I have appreciated our monk’s life, starting with early chanting and meditation and doing some interesting activities such as calligraphy and gardening. Food was great, both the on-site fresh food and the off-site restaurant visits. Jiho is not only a good monk but also a very pleasurable and funny character, looking forward to return as his honourable guest. I may see him in another country as he is interested in many countries that I will be travelling as well.

Bob

Joe Gebbia, one of the founders os AirBnB came to SHOGANJI ZEN RETREAT twice!

August 2013

My second time back, and the experience only got better! Hosan greeted me with a warm smile at the temple. I stayed for a brief two nights, catching up with Hosan, his delightful mom, and two other Airbnb guests who were also there. Thank you Pierre for managing the listing on Hosan’s behalf. The morning starts with silent mediation. During the day the four of us explored the nearby beach, the main temple in Oita, and dined on Hosan’s delicious lunch and dinner. Some of the best Japanese food you could eat! The accommodations are just has pictured – a traditional, Japanese style thin futon on a tatami mat floor. This stay was during the summertime, which means it is warm! You will be in the hillside, surrounded by lush greenery, bamboo forests, and the sound of the cicadas (the insects that chirp). It’s quite charming. This place is perfect for a serious getaway, a reflective time with a monk, and an immersion in Japanese culture. I can’t wait to come back a third time. See you soon Hosan.

Joe Gebbia, San Francisco, CA

January 2013

Imagine waking up to the sound of trees rustling in the wind and birds singing to the sunrise. As you lay in bed, your fingers feel the reeds of the tatami mat underneath your futon, and your eyes gain focus on unidentified Japanese calligraphy across the room. The sound of footsteps passes through the hallway outside your door and you know it’s time to join your host, Hosan, in the temple for a hour of silent meditation. Welcome to “Zen Retreat – Buddhist Temple, Oita”. Oita, a sleepy industrial city on the southern coast of Japan, is a short plane ride from Tokyo. About 2 hours outside of Oita is a Buddhist temple run by a monk named Hosan. This guy will change your life. And if he doesn’t, his 94 year old mother will. Together, these hosts provide the most Japanese experience one could hope for. Thanks to Pierre & Yo for adding this listing and managing the account for Hosan. Your morning begins at 5:30am in the shrine area of the temple. Do not be late. Hosan will provide a place for you to sit on the tatami mat. The next 30 mins is something I won’t give away, but rather you have to experience first hand. Then, at 6:00am you sit in silence, the sun isn’t even up yet. The day wakes up with you as birds begin to chrip and light floats through the transparent panels of the Japanese walls. There is no breakfast at the Zen temple. Instead the next meal is lunch, prepared by his mom at 12:00pm. The afternoon will be filled with activities. Or not. The beach is 5 mins away. There are mountain trails. There is a store in the village filled with all kinds of oddities. You can watch Korean soap operas with his mom during the day, or check your email over their wifi (you won’t want to get on computers once you’re here). Be sure to take a walk into the orange tree grove, and explore the wooded paths behind the pond. Hosan teaches and believes in the Nishi Health System. You will eat some of the most authentic, healthiest food in his kitchen. His mom prepares the best soba noodles, tempura, diakon, fish. Each night was feast of nutritious proportions. Dinner is at 6 or 7pm. After that the night is free, though you will probably want to go to bed earlier than in your normal life. Did you feel your chest expand while reading any of the above? If yes, book this listing. Yes, it will be different. Yes, you will learn about Japanese culture in a brand new way. And yes, you will have a story to tell when you return.

Joe Gebbia, San Francisco, CA

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