training & cultural experiences at Miidera (Onjoji)

Shugendo mountain asceticism

Mountain Ascetics

Please experience Nagara-san style asceticism in a way only possible at Miidera Temple, the head temple for asceticism, wearing the clothing of a Yamabushi. A priest will give easy-to-understand explanations on asceticism, including the rules of Yamabushi (mountain priests), how to put on the apparel, and more.

There are many sacred mountains throughout the country where asceticism is practiced, such as Mt. Ominesan, but Mt. Nagara where Miidera Temple is located was deemed a sacred spot for Mii style asceticism by the high priest Gyoson (1055-1135) who served as an administrator at Miidera Temple during the Heian period.

Gyoson is famous for penning the poem, “Morotomo ni aware to omoe yamazakura, Hana yori hokani shiru hitomo nashi (I think of you as someone very close to me, and I hope you feel the same nostalgic way for me. Oh, mountain cherry blossoms, there is no one else in this world who knows me as you do.),” which is contained in Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets). But he also repeatedly practiced severe asceticism in the mountains of Kumano and Omine.

◆Daily Schedule
10:00 Gather / Listen to the lecture
11:00 Change clothes
11:30 Enter the temple
12:30 Rest and lunchtime
15:00 Leave the temple and change clothes
15:30 Award ceremony
16:00 Disband

◆Things to prepare
・White, rubber-soled tabi boots (If you do not have any, please bring shoes fit for
 walking in the mountains.)
・White clothing (If you do not have any, please bring white underwear.
 *Long-sleeve is better.)
・Buddhist prayer beads (Commonly available types are acceptable, but you can
 purchase special beads for mountain ascetic called Iratakajuzu, if you wish.)

◆Time required: About 6 hours (Approx. 3 hours to reach the peak of Nagara-san)
◆Availability: 5-15 people
※It is available to groups of 2 or more people lodging at WAQOO Miidera Temple.
※Service is not offered in any language other than Japanese.

Morning recommendations

Kannon-do Hall  (Edo period)

Please have a spiritually healthy day by participating in the historic morning religious services.

Religious services are conducted every morning at Kannondo and anyone can participate. If you would like to participate, please come to Kannondo by 8:00.

◆Time required: about 20-30 minutes
※Service is not offered in any language other than Japanese.

Zen meditation

Zen Meditation

Zazen (Shikan) workshop at Kannondo, the 14th stop on the Saigoku 33-Temple Pilgrimage. Easy-to-understand instruction is provided on mindset and ceremonial behaviors.

The word zazen likely makes most people think of Zen sect. However, Zen originates from the Tendai sect. The classic writings “Xiao Zhiguan” and “Mohe Zhiguan,” written by Chigi(Zhiyi), high priest of the Tendai sect, who founded the Chinese Tendai sect in Zhejiang Province, are known as the first collections in the history of Buddhism of theories on meditation and training that specifically detail the ceremonial behaviors in zazen. As a document on the ceremonial behaviors of Zen, the writing “Xiao Zhiguan” in particular has had a major influence on all sects, so much so that no other document to this day is thought to be a better guide. In addition, the Tendai sect refers to zazen by the name “shikan” and considers it one of the most important methods of training.

Zazen at Miidera Temple is based on the writing “Xiao Zhiguan,” and practitioners are taught to sit with the same posture as that of Chisho Daishi Enchin, the founder of Miidera Temple. This temple enshrines images of Chisho Daishi (national treasures), in the mausoleum as hibutsu (rarely shown to the public). According to temple legends, creation of the image known as Okotsu Daishi began late in Chisho Daishi’s life, and his remains were enshrined within the image in accordance with his last wishes. Ever since then, it has been said that this image is a perfect likeness of Chisho Daishi as he was in life, and when performing zazen (shikan), practitioners here sit in the same posture as Chisho Daishi.

◆Time required: about 45-60 minutes
◆Availability: 5-100 people.
 It is possible to handle more than 100 applicants by acceptance in shifts.
※It is available to groups of 2 or more people lodging at WAQOO Miidera Temple.
※Service is not offered in any language other than Japanese.
※The venue is subject to change.

Copying sutras

Copying Sutra

We hope that you become freed from the distractions of daily life and have a refreshing time by engrossing yourself in our Copying sutras workshop. A priest will give an easy-to-understand explanation of the mindset and etiquette.

Shakyo, the practice of transcribing Buddhist scriptures, has been popular in Japan since the introduction of Buddhism in the 6th century. The original purpose was to spread knowledge of the sutras, but as the Lotus Sutra and others proclaim rewards for practicing shakyo, it became practiced as a way to pray for peace and prosperity in the world and for the realization of various other personal wishes, as well as for various other purposes such as praying for the repose of one’s ancestors.

Please try to push aside any distracting thoughts, become calm and tranquil in mind and body, and engage in shakyo and shabutsu by imbuing each line and each stroke of each character with your desire. If you write and draw cleanly and wholeheartedly, then you will recall the feelings of benevolence, gentleness, and empathy that dwell within your heart, and you will be able to experience an enriching time in which you come face to face with a better you.

◆Time required: about 60 minutes ~
◆Availability: 1-50 people.
※Service is not offered in any language other than Japanese.
※The venue is subject to change.

Creating Buddhist statues and altar equipment

Making Buddhist Rosary

Instruction is given by a craftsman from the Ono Prayer Beads Shop, a longstanding shop in Kyoto. Please make a bracelet of beads (wooden) at your most comfortable length as a memorial for your visit.

We would like for you to become familiar with the teachings of Buddhism by creating a bracelet of prayer beads. We got this idea from members of the Soto sect. At the time of the Tohoku earthquake, the Soto Institute for Buddhist Studies passionately engaged in a “Careful Listening Project” using picture books and prayer bead bracelets as a way of supporting affected areas. This project enabled people affected by the disaster and people who lost loved ones to talk about their sadness and pain, which are not easy emotions to talk to others about. And they did more than just listen. The fact that they “listened closely,” meaning they understood the speakers’ true feelings by empathizing with what they wished to convey, is thought to have had a major effect.

We began creating prayer bead bracelets to make it easier for people to open up, in the same way that those affected by the disaster found it easier to speak. Through the idea of creating prayer bead bracelets together, everyone from young children to adults become able to converse and understand each other. The purpose of this workshop is not simply to create a bracelet. We hope that you are able to cleanse your heart while conversing together on a variety of topics.

In the world of Buddhism, prayer beads are an important ritual implement in communicating one’s feelings with spirits, etc. They are thought to protect you from calamities and calm your mind just by having them in your possession. Please create your prayer beads with your whole heart and take them home with you together with the feelings you gained during the workshop, then make use of their power by keeping them on you during your daily life.

◆Time required: 30-45 minutes
◆Availability: 10-50 people
※Service is not offered in any language other than Japanese.
※The venue is subject to change.


Kojo-in Kyakuden (National Treasure) Special Admission

Special Viewing
A special public opening will be held at Kojo-in Kyakuden, a national treasure that is not typically open to the public.

You can view the famous Kojo-in Kyakuden, a national architectural treasure, as a representative example of shoin-zukuri style architecture that is not typically open to the public.

This site is the representative example of the Shoin-zukuri style, which is the origin of residential architecture in Japan. It is said to have been erected by Yamaoka Doami Kagetomo, a priest at Miidera Temple as well as a general who served Toyotomi Hideyoshi as the lord of Seta Castle.

The first and second interior rooms feature room partitions painted in the style of the Kano school of painting (important cultural assets), including parts painted by Kano Sanraku. The garden, from the late Muromachi period, has also been designated as a place of scenic beauty and as a historical site. This beautiful and historic garden extends all the way to the spacious shoin style veranda, which enables you to experience a serene, refined space in which the building and the garden are joined together as one.

◆Time required: about 20-30 minutes
◆Availability: 3-40 people.
 It is possible to handle more than 40 applicants by acceptance in shifts.
※The Special Viewing at Kangaku-in Kyakuden will be closed
 until autumn of 2018.