Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Note that this thread has not been updated in a long time, and its content might not be up-to-date anymore.

Backpacking in Japan 2019/12/14 01:20
Hello my friends and thank you in advance for your help.

My Name is Aly, a german citizen and a student of economics. I am going to visit Japan around November 2020 for a whole year. I want to learn more about the culture but more important I want to learn more about my self, thats the reason why I am going to visit Japan alone to seek isolation for the most part.

I have two questions for my journey:

- I want to life in a Zen-Temple for some month to learn about it and to meditate. How do I get accepted as a praticioner and do you have any recommandations?

- After my time in a Zen-Temple I want to hike backpack a mountin and live there for some month in a tent. It should be a mountain where I can stay and it would be nice if there are not so many people. ANy recommendations here?

My japanese is not bad if this is important and I am open for any kind of recommendation you got for me.

Kind regards
by Aly (guest)  

Re: Backpacking in Japan 2019/12/15 03:26

I am not sure this is what you want, but I found this place:

It seems to offer zen services. You could also try this website? https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/temples/foreigner/index.html

In terms of mountains, I think by November/December you're going to run into problems with snow if you want to stay on one. I personally would be leery of just hiking up a mountain and staying where ever because Japan does have bears. Driving in Tohoku this past summer it felt like every 5-10 kms I passed signs warning about bears and just walking around the two different ryokan I stayed at there were warning signs about bears. I've not seen one, but they are out there. There are lots of campsites on mountains that are open in season. You won't be alone, but it won't be packed either. There was another thread earlier with free campsites or cheap ones in Japan.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Backpacking in Japan 2019/12/15 06:42
I am going to visit Japan around November 2020 for a whole year.

What will be your VISA status? You can visit Japan as tourist for 3 months, but you need some kind of VISA for longer stay, and in general it will take some time to get appropriate VISA. I am a Japanese and my son stayed in Spain for 10 month as a student status and it took 3 months to get the student VISA. I don't know how long will it take to get VISA for Japan, but it will not as easy as coming as a tourist.
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Backpacking in Japan 2019/12/15 07:44
To Frog 1954
He is a German citizen, so he can get a 1year Working Holiday visa without much problems!
by ... (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Backpacking in Japan 2019/12/15 15:23
1 month is a long time for a temporary monk, but not long enough for a full commitment. The zen temples that I'm familiar with offer overnight, 3 day, 5 day, or a week to foreigners so they can experience zazen meditation. The longer is cheaper per day; you can't just walk in and stay for free.

You might look into Eiheiji in Fukui Prefecture

or Buttsuji in Mihara town in Hiroshima-ken:

Senju-in Nara, Mt.Shosha in Himeji, & Eko-in on Mt.Koya have a zazen (meditation) program, but I think these are mainly for a day or two for tourists.

As for a mountain hermitage, I haven't been anywhere where somebody doesn't walk by, especially if you're near a trail or forest road. Probably your most isolated areas would be in Hokkaido, the Japanese Alps, or a southern island such as Yakushima. In some places such as the Alps there are mountain lodges where you might be able to resupply, but not so in Hokkaido or Yakushima. Most of Japan has stands of privately owned silvaculture, where foresters constantly wander through, and many forestry roads leading to nowhere to access the trees criss-cross the mountains. The Japanese don't seem to mind someone camping for 1 or 2 nights in one place that's not an official campsite, but longer than that is frowned upon. Some people even set up a tent at a remote shrine or old castle site, but just for a night.

From one website:
"As a general rule, if you want to do some free camping, make sure you find a nice secluded spot, stay there for as little time as possible, and importantly, leave no traces behind you. As a foreigner youfll in most cases be given an easy ride should you be discovered; at best youfll be greeted with an inquisitive smile, at worst politely told to move along. "
by Anaguma (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Backpacking in Japan 2019/12/15 22:32
Living in a Zen temple is like this. Not similar to be a temporary guest just for a piece of experience or staying at a hostel at all. No one would interpret for you.
by .. (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Backpacking in Japan 2019/12/15 22:53
And to be accepted as a trainee of a Zen temple, you can't just book on TripAdvisor and such.
You need to apply first through a certain document called |ʎu from Feb to Apr. If passed, you need to knock their gate and go through the ceremony to be accepted as a trainee. The ceremony is to be asked severe questions from the monk and answer them to show your preparedness. You need to do it standing in the snow in winter for hours. You need to do it all in Japanese, of course.
Zen temples are not accommodations for tourists on a budget. They are serious religious establishments.
by .. (guest) rate this post as useful

Zen Monastery 2019/12/19 00:14
There is a Zen monastery run by a German guy

by Guest (guest) rate this post as useful

reply to this thread