Koun-ji Zen Temple


Zen Temple




private house


1 - 5 pers.


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Experience the True Essence of Japanese Zen

– Zen : A Way of Life –

Peace of Mind. Acceptance. Embracing that which does not last. Understanding that Nothing is Everything. Zen Buddhism is a Way of Life.

This exclusive stay within the Zen temple of Koun-ji, known for its exquisite Japanese pond garden with the back drop of Higashiyama mountain, brings the heart and soul of Japanese culture to guests. By staying at this Zen temple that is normally closed to the public, guests will feel in their hearts and souls what it is like to accept and embrace the Zen way of life. A powerful, unique, and unforgettable experience.

Rediscover yourself through the special cultural experience of tradition in a Zen temple with monks. The unparalleled experience of Zen, that includes Zazen meditation, chanting of sutras, and hand-made monk cuisine, also gives one a better insight and understanding to Japanese values, cultures, and history.

In addition, guests are helping, through their financial contributions, to preserve cultural properties and to ensure that the profound culture of Zen Buddhism is both preserved as well as passed on to future generations.


– Koun-ji Temple –

Set in the foothills of the Higashiyama mountain range in eastern Kyoto, and only a few feet from one end of the famous Tetsugaku no Michi (Philosopher’s Path) and Biwa Canal, this sub-temple of the much larger Nanzen-ji temple, has exquisite, sophisticated lodgings.

Guests stay in what amounts to a large villa, with three Western style bedrooms, a large kitchen, a traditional Japanese living room, and a bathroom with a great wooden tub.  Two private gardens are on either side of the home, and a third stands between it and the monk’s quarters just below.

The ponds have carp.  Herons land to catch the fish.  Each season creates changes in the foliage.


– Guest Experience –


  • Exclusive night stay within a private condominium, with a blend of Japanese and Western styles in the staying facility called Kanunan.
  • Chisen Kaiyu style  Garden : There is a highly praised Chisen Kaiyu style garden at the Kounji temple not open to the public. The garden was repaired by the garden designer, Ogawa Jihei the seventh. The garden’s water comes from the Biwa lake canal and the garden benefits from the scenery of Higashiyama area. The garden is designated as one of Kyoto’s scenic spot. Guests can have a tea ceremony while enjoying the garden.
  • Hand-made monk cuisine : guests will have the opportunity to experience the zen monk cuisine called shoujin-ryori during their stay, while discovering another aspect of Japanese cuisine.
  • Private Zazen meditation : Zazen is one of the basic Zen practices aiming of one’s mental concentration, by sitting in the right posture. Guests experience this practice by learning from a Zen Buddhist monk.
  • Morning walk : Walking within the Koun-ji temple area and along the Philosopher’s Path is a privilege of this program’s guests. There will be no other tourists in the refreshing morning temple.


– Guest Exclusive Privileges –


  • Experience the most fulfilled and authentic private cultural program related to Zen of Japan
  • Exclusive night stay within an authentic Zen temple normally closed to the public
  • Direct encountering with the head monk of the premises, who will host guests during their stay and provides them with accurate guidance and teaching about Zen philosophy
  • Personal translator assistance at disposal during your stay


– Monk’s Words –

Kanju Tanaka is the monk in charge of this temple.  He is a man nearly seventy, and moves with poise.  In his azure colored clothing, and shaven head like all Zen Buddhist monks, his posture suggests alliance with his surroundings.

Having studied Immanuel Kant in his youth, Mr. Tanaka then embraced Zen for the rest of his life.

Mr. Tanaka says that he teaches through what he calls, “Dharma speech,” or informal conversations.  He uses Zen koan, like parables, to invite understanding.

I try not to use words,” he says with a cryptic smile.  “Truth is outside the letters.”  He explains, however.  “There is no sense in trying to explain snow if you’ve never touched snow.

> check the complete ZEN Experience program <

Koun-ji - Highlights


Koun-ji - Zen Experience


This is an exclusive, 100% private stay experience within an authentic Zen temple not open to the general public. For this reason, we kindly ask you to fill out the contact form below to inquiry about availability, price and experience arrangements. We look forward to welcoming you soon.