If you plan to go …

Maybe my notes about the seven days I spent at the Zen-Dojo near Kyoto motivated you to visit the Tekishinjuku. For me it was a very good experience, but I heard others just left after a night or two. Reading about our day to day life in my blog, a friend wrote to me “… isn’t this just stupid? I never could do it …”. So a few words in addition to the information you can find on the International Zen-Dojo’s webpage are hopefully useful:

In case you are experienced with doing regular Zazen and certain aspects of Japanese life-style (especially eating and sitting on the floor), you might enjoy your time as much as I did. Just bring a sleeping bag and a few warm cloths in case you plan to go there during the cold months.

If you are new to Zen and Japanese living and particularly eating, but want to make your first experiences in a “real Dojo”, be prepared for some hardships. The best I can recommend is to come with an open mind: everything could be a bit different from what you might expect. Just watch and learn and do … Since you will sit on the floor not only during Zazen, it is a good idea to practice a bit beforehand in order to give your body a chance to adopt to the unfamiliar posture. Zen-practise always has a strong physical aspect, part of it outside our usual comfort-zone. Especially for the beginner the focus can quickly shift from contemplation to survival. And don’t forget to bring a good sleeping-bag for the months October-May …

In any case I suggest to plan staying longer than just one or two nights, otherwise you already leave before you really arrived. If you are just looking for a cheap accommodation near Kyoto and your interest in Zen is more a touristy one, I recommend not to visit Tekishinjuku. I read a heartbreaking report on the web of a young couple who suffered two days and nights through before eventually leaving, and another one from a Shakuhachi group entiteled “Prelude to Pain“.
An excellent introduction to Zen (in English) and the opportunity to combine holiday with a stay at the Temple is offered by Shunkoin, our Dojo’s partner-Temple, which is located inside the Myoshinji Temple complex in Kyoto. Find out about Shunkoin’s weekly schedule here.

That was our daily schedule at Tekishinjuku, more or less:

4:50 Rise
5:15 Morning service
6:00 Zazen
7:00 Interior and garden cleaning
7:30 Breakfast
9:00 Manual work period
12:00 Lunch
14:00 Free practise (Zazen, Sutra copy, reading, …)
16:00 Evening service
17:00 Dinner
19:00 Zazen
21:00 Night service, retire


If you happen meet the most friendly monk K-san, who’s name is now Genryo, please don’t forget to say a warm “hello” from me!

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