Some temples in Japan, especially in popular pilgrimage destinations, offer temple lodgings (shukubo) to visiting pilgrims and tourists. Temple lodgings offer an excellent chance to get a taste of the simple, traditional lifestyle of Buddhist monks.
Koyasan is one of the best places in Japan to experience a night at a temple, with more than 50 temples in town serving as shukubo. Unlike in other parts of Japan, the temples on Koyasan are accustomed to foreign guests and can be reserved relatively easily through Japanese Guest Houses, Japanican or by email or fax via the tourist association. The typical cost for a stay is between 9,000 and 15,000 yen per person and night, including dinner and breakfast. Most temples accept cash only.
Temple lodgings typically offer private, traditional Japanese rooms with tatami floors, sliding doors (fusuma) and shared toilets and sinks. Bedding is provided in form of futons that are spread on the tatami floor during the night. During winter gas heaters provide warmth. A small number of temples go beyond these average standards and offer overnight stays that resemble more those enjoyed at a mid-range ryokan with private washrooms and lavish meals.
Try to arrive at the temple no later than 17:00, as dinner is usually served around 18:00. Dinner and breakfast feature vegetarian monks' cuisine (shojin ryori) with specialties such as konyaku (devils tongue jelly), yuba (tofu skin) and koyadofu (freeze dried tofu). Guests are also invited to participate in morning prayers which typically start around 6:00am, last for about 30-45 minutes and are followed by breakfast around 7:00. During your stay you may also view the temple's cultural treasures, halls and garden, as well as enjoy its communal, gender-separated baths.