Zen Experience at Zenpoji Temple

Step inside the world of Zen Buddhism in Yamagata’s Shonai district, where you will meditate, chant sutras, and converse with real temple monks as they continue their never-ending pursuit of enlightenment.

3 hours


  • Learn the basics of Zen Buddhism from real monks. Many of these calming practices can be applied to everyday life.
  • Begin your day the same way the monks of Zenpoji Temple do - with a seated meditation practice known as zazen.
  • Continue your spiritual studies with sacred chanting and learning how to eat shojin ryori (Buddhist cuisine) with the monks.


Situated between the sacred peaks of Dewa Sanzan and the bountiful Sea of Japan, the monks of Zenpoji Temple have long held sacred the relationship between humans and nature. Under their watchful tutelage and the blessing of the enshrined Sea God, visitors are encouraged to clear their minds and still their hearts through zazen meditation and sacred chanting. The methods may be thousands of years old, but these practices of inner tranquility and mindfulness are timeless.

The monks at Zenpoji conduct much of their practices in silence, so we would ask participants to refrain from talking in the main areas, or when necessary, to speak softly.


Experience duration: 10.30 am - 01.30 pm 

Welcome to Zenpoji Temple! Upon meeting a Buddhist monk and your interpreter at the main gate of Zenpoji Temple, you will begin your orientation into the world of Zen Buddhism with an introduction to meditation. Next, you will be able to put this newly learned technique into practice with a zazen meditation experience, which is performed inside a hall normally off-limits to anyone besides the temple monks.

After learning the ins and outs of zazen meditation, your training will continue with participating in an authentic Buddhist lunch ceremony. As the day proceeds, you will then move to a worship hall to undergo a Zen prayer ritual accompanied by a monk as your spiritual guide. Finally, your visit to Zenpoji Temple will conclude with a walk around the temple grounds, visiting some hidden areas of the complex that are only accessible when accompanied by a temple monk.

When the tour is concluded, your interpreter would be happy to call you a taxi to bring you to your next location. Public buses to Tsuroka Station are also available at the Zenpotera Bus Stop located within walking distance (5 minutes) of the main gate.

Important information

Included in price

  • Private Zenpoji monk guide.
  • Private Japanese to English interpreter.
  • Traditional Buddhist Shojin Ryori lunch with Zenpoji monk guide .

Not included

  • Transportation (Zenpoji Temple is easily accessible by private car or taxi)  Zenpoji Temple is a 15~20-minute drive from central Tsuruoka. A public bus is also available to Zenpoji Temple from Tsuruoka Station.

Prices of this experience

32,000 JPY (per person, for 2 people)
27,000 JPY (per person, for 3 people)
24,000 JPY (per person, for 4 or more people)
22,000 JPY (per person, for 5 or more people)

Know Before You Book

  • Cancellation: If the guest cancels their tour after the booking process is completed, the following cancellation fees will apply. In cases of multiple guests traveling together, if 1 guest cancels their trip, the applicable cancellation fee will apply for the remaining participants.
    ・Between 30 and 21 days before the date of travel = 30%
    ・Between 20 and 8 days before the date of travel = 60%
    ・Between 7 and 2 days before the date of travel = 75%
    ・Less than 48 hours before the date of travel= 100%
    ・No show or cancellation after trip start date= 100%
  • This tour is generally bookable up to 2 weeks prior to its date.
  • Please note that vegetarian/vegan options are currently not available. The monks observe a simple, largely plant-based diet, but dashi (fish stock) and katsuo (skipjack tuna) are used in the preparation of their meals.

What You Need to Bring

  • Zenpoji is a place of worship and as such we advise participants to wear modest clothing in muted colors. We recommend loose, comfortable clothes (no skirts) as you will be sitting cross-legged on the floor (chairs are available upon request).
  • Face mask (please see our current guidelines regarding COVID-19)

Starting point

善宝寺Zenpoji Temple, 

Sekine-100 Shimogawa, Tsuruoka, Yamagata 997-1117, Japan

View Directions

Organised by wondertrunk & co.

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