Contemporary architecture and art blend into a beautiful Zen temple! You can fully taste the world of Zen
Tenshinzan Shinshoji, Kenninji Temple school of Rinzai sect, located in the mountain of Fukuyama city, Hiroshima prefecture. It is a Zen temple which is also known for having an international Zen dojo. Using the vast site here, "Shinshoji Zen and Garden Museum" opened in 2016. The concept is "a place to feel what Zen is, through various experiences, such as having a cup of tea, facing the bokuseki, tasting the food to survive, washing the mind and body dirt and walking the garden".
It is the temple office "Shodo" that jumps into the eyes when you enter from the Somon gate. It is a slightly quirky building with the theme of pine which is closest to the image of Zen, and it is designed to fuse with surrounding nature. Moreover, in the precincts, the well-maintained Japanese garden "Shoshin-tei" spreads, contemporary architecture coexists with historic buildings such as the Douu relocated from Shiga Prefecture and the restored Sen-no-Rikyu tea room, etc. There is also a library related to Zen and space for having tea. The most attractive aspect of this museum is that you can experience eating udon and Shakyo sutra-copying following the style of a monk, as well as thinking about the culture of Zen in mind. (Photo: Nobutada OMOTE | SANDWICH)
There are so many highlights that you take more than half a day to go around, so here are a few carefully selected highlights that you can’t miss.
Symbol of Shinshoji, Kotei
Art pavilion "Kotei" like a wooden boat flew down in the mountains from the space. It was designed by Mr. Kohei Nawa, a sculptor representing Japan today, and Creative Platform, SANDWICH. It is structured like a building in the shape of a ship, which is entirely wrapped with wood softly, floating on the stone landscape, by applying the construction method called Kokerabuki which has been passed down since the ancient times in Japan. The enormousness and presence are spectacular, and when you get inside, the darkness of jet black spreads, and you can experience a deep installation that can not be expressed in words. (Photo: Nobutada OMOTE | SANDWICH)
Shogondo hall with Hakuin collections
It is the first Japanese exhibition hall specialized in Zen paintings and Bokuseki of Zen monk, Hakuin from the Edo period, who is said to be the originator of restoration of Rinzai sect, leaving as many as 10 thousands of Zen pictures. There are over 200 works here, of which 30 to 40 are displayed in order. The space is where the Zen paintings and Bokuseki are exhibited, which were created by the aspiration for Buddhahood(enlightenment mind) of Hakuin Zenshi, and it once again evoke the aspiration for Buddhahood in those who appreciate the works. (Bottom Hakuin "Ofuku Dango" Photo: Tsuneo Horide)
Bottom Hakuin "Ofuku Dango" （Photo: Tsuneo Horide）
Shuroken reproduces the tea room of Omotesenke before the big fire in 1788
The tea room which was burnt down by the big fire in 1788 is reproduced faithfully according to the old map. There is also an Odo, "Rikyudo",which worships Sen-no- Rikyu, the tea originator. Luckily, you can have Matcha Japanese sweets in the tea room. It is a place recommended for a relaxing break. Matcha Japanese confections are 800 yen as a set. (Separate admission fee required)
Gokando where you can have udon noodles in the monk's manner
For monks, everyday acts such as eating and cleaning are also training. In Gokando, you can get a udon which is the best feast for the monk, using a bowl called "Jihatsu", and thick and long "Unsuibashi" in the style of the training dojo of Zen sect. You are assured that the staff will tell you how to eat.
The menu is "Shinshoji Udon" alone and costs 1,000 yen per serving. Please note that open hours are only from 11:00 to 14:30. (Separate admission fee required)
Let's enjoy the sutra-copying experience in the Hibutsudo
In this museum, you can experience Zen such as tea (800 yen per person), Zazen (600 yen per person). One of them is sutra-copying (1,000 yen per person), which can be experienced in a building called Hibutsudo. It's a wonder that your mind goes truly "blank" while tracing Hannya Shingyo in light print with a brush pen. One hour is sufficient for you to finish writing. Give it a try in memory of your trip. (Separate admission fee required)
We wish to express our heartfelt sympathy to everyone who suffered from damages caused by the heavy rain, which hit the western Japan in July 2018. If you are planning to visit Okayama and Hiroshima, please check the most updated information before your journey.