Shōganji Zen Retreat

Experience authentic Zen temple life in rural Japan


“Purpose in life is found in the actualization of others.”  

– Jiho Kongo, Shoganji Zen Retreat

 Jiho Kongo has an extensive and diverse background in Rinzai Buddhism. Born the eldest son of a Rinzai Zen family, Jiho inherited the responsibility of a monastic life. His first period of monastic practice after the completion of university was at Japan’s strictest monastery, Shogen-Ji, in Gifu Prefecture. imageSince then he has practised at Kyoto’s Myoshin-Ji and Empukuki, Bairinji, in Fukuoka Prefecture, and Manju-Ji in Oita. Traveling to different monasteries has allowed Jiho to meet many Zen masters. In doing so he has broadened his knowledge of and perspective on Buddhism. Jiho has also travelled abroad with the hope of learning about other ways of life and cultures, in turn passing on his experience as a Buddhist monk. He taught Zen in Victoria, Canada where he lived for two years. He has also visited Australia, England, China, Taiwan, India and Tibet. Jiho’s unique experience in both Japan and abroad, has allowed him to develop a deep humility from which he passes on his teachings. His dedication to spiritual evolution is communicated by his commitment to not only teach, but also to learn from his students.


Coordinator, Pierre Ferguson Black

Pierre is a multidisciplinary naturopath and healer from Montreal, 308185_186200228127509_1658138463_nCanada and has spent extended periods living at Shōganji since 2007, acting as general assistant and on-site coordinator. He now serves as general administrator for Zen Retreat, handling all online bookings and inquiries for the retreat.

While at Shoganji, Pierre provides Kriya Yoga classes, healing sessions for guests and locals, and general assistance at the retreat. Pierre is also an avid cook and always brings some new and exciting flavours to the retreat. Watch for upcoming dates!

“It is my great pleasure to facilitate this unique life experience for guests from all over the world. My time at Shōganji has been life-changing. I now understand the definition of the term ‘spiritual home’ – Shōganji is that for me.”


Willow Verkerk, co-founder.

As a collaborative effort between Willow and Jiho, Shōganji originally opened its doors to curious foreigners in 2004. Since that time Zen Retreat has received thousands of guests from around the world.WillowProfileZenRetreat

Willow presently lives between Vancouver (Canada) and London (UK) where she writes and teaches continental and feminist philosophy. She was initiated into Buddhism with Kalu Rinpoche when she was eight years old and has known Jiho Kongo as a family friend and Buddhist teacher since she was two. Willow is also certified to teach both Ashtanga and Sivananda Yoga.

When at Shōganji, Willow teaches yoga, provides general assistance with the retreat, and is available by appointment for philosophical counselling. She is known by Jiho for her “honest talk,” her enthusiasm for Japanese cuisine, and her love of onsen culture.

Shōganji is my second home, a wonderful and restorative getaway for body and mind which embraces the wabi sabi, the imperfect beauty in yourself and in the world around you.

Willow can be reached at
and also on Twitter @willowverkerk



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