Mar 3, 2017
Sogenji Temple is a beautifully landscaped Buddhist monastery, and one of the most underrated attractions in Okayama. About a twenty-minute bus ride away from Okayama Station, it’s definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in the vicinity.
You can get there by taking the Ryobi bus from Okayama Station bound for Saidaiji and alighting at the Sogenji bus stop. From there, the temple is just a five-minute walk in. A long straight path lined with pine trees and bamboo thickets takes you right to the sanctuary of the temple.
Surrounded by the tranquil landscape, you’ll experience a sense of calm and peace as the stresses of the city fades away. If you’re planning to visit, do keep in mind that you will need to drop an admission fee of 100 yen into the collection box before entering. The temple is open between 8am to 5pm.
Once inside, you can explore the grounds, take a stroll by the pond and the rock garden, or even have a chat with one of the monks. One unique thing you’ll come to realise about their training monks is that most of them are not native but have come from abroad – mostly from the United States of America – to study Zen Buddhism.
The average training period takes about three to four years, but some stay for over thirty years. And although the temple caters to foreigners interested in joining a monastery, it’s open to anyone as long as you’re willing to leave the outside world behind
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