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“Surprised to be disappointed; basics were fine, genuine warmth was missing.” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Shojoshin-in Temple

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Shojoshin-in Temple
Certificate of Excellence
Mountain View, California
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Surprised to be disappointed; basics were fine, genuine warmth was missing.”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 13, 2012

Given the consistent raves from earlier reviewers, I was particularly surprised and disappointed with my stay at the Shojoshin-in Temple. First, though, I'll start with the good:
- Easy to find
- Nice (though not stunning) grounds
- Reasonably tasty food
- Greeted and briefed at reception by a polite woman who spoke English well
- Decently comfy futon and very large room (by Japanese standards)

Downsides:
- No guidance, no welcoming, really, almost no speaking other than the rules-of-the-road intro by the woman at reception.
- In fact, when I saw many of the monks pass by me in the cemetery next door, it was as if I were a ghost... not a glimmer of acknowledgment, etc. And at Shojoshin-in, the only words spoken to me by a monk were "Sauce. For tempura."
- Everyone ate semi-alone. It was the semi- part that was especially awkward. For our meals, we were placed in a large narrow room with shallow portable dividers, so that each couple ate together, but was within clear earshot of all the other couples. This resulted in a lot of uncomfortable whispering, and exactly zero interactions amongst guests. I would have been fine with being served completely alone (in our individual rooms), or together in a communal setting, but -- especially as a solo traveler -- this in-between was just odd and unpleasant.
- The morning ceremony felt as if I was watching from a seat in an IMAX theatre. Definitely surround sound, but -- except for a brief moment in which we were invited to walk up to the front to briefly pray one at a time -- it was 100% non-interactive, and -- for non-Japanese speakers -- 100% non-intelligible. No context. Had the monks taken just 2 minutes before or after the ceremony to provide context, or even a brief personal greeting, my take on the morning prayer would have been greatly improved.

And that sort of sums up how I felt. Not mistreated, certainly, and no one was rude. But I felt essentially invisible. Ignored. One might cynically suggest... well, perhaps we tourists were just there to provide funds. I didn't get the sense that we were welcomed, much less that the monks desired to share anything of their life and beliefs and experiences with us in any real, substantive way.

Three stars because of the adequate food and lodging, Two missing stars to symbolize my sadness at what could have, should have been in such an emotional and historical place.

Room Tip: I'd suggest asking for a room that's not facing the street; though mitigated substantially b...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank ThatAdamGuy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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268 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (20)
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English first
Charleston, South Carolina
Level Contributor
36 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 87 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 28, 2012

My wife and I spent 1 night at Shojoshin-in and were very pleased with the accomodations. A word of warning to those traveling to Koyasan: of all the guidebooks I consulted prior to going, none accurately detail the process and timeliness of getting to Koyasan from Osaka/Kyoto. Just note: it will take you some time (about 5ish hours from Kyoto for us), so plan on leaving in the early part of the morning, especially if you plan on only being in Koyasan for 1 night.
While the price doesn't necessarily reflect the level of accomodations, one must keep in mind that you're also paying for the overall experience.
Shojoshin is very well located, about 50 yards walk to Okunoin Cemetary - and a short stroll into "town". Our room was fairly large, consisting of a sleeping room, dining room, small terrace, and sink room. The room also had some mod-cons like a flat screen tv, fan, hot water maker, tea service, and a sink/mirror - but no toilet. Toilets were housed at the end of the hall - making this a slightly "rustic" experience for those not accustomed to temple living. Bathing is done only in the late afternoon/evening and is in a same-gender shared room. Soap/shampoo is provided!
Dinner & breakfast, all vegetarian, are definitely a highlight of the temple experience and I found them to be of good taste and quantity. I was under the belief that alcohol was available, however none of the monks offered it to us. It was however a non-issue as I had purchased some in "town" earlier in the day.
Morning prayer ceremony started promptly at 6am and while it was a great experience, I do wish that we could have received some information about the ceremony aside from just the visual aspect of it.
Overall, we very much enjoyed our stay at Shojoshin-in and Koyasan as a whole. The monks that we interacted with were friendly and personable, and spoke English very well. So long as you are not expecting a 5 star luxury experience, I trust you will enjoy your stay here!

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank EPScarlata
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 24, 2012

We stayed one night at Shojoshin-in Temple during our stay in Koyasan. The trip to the temple and Koyasan was long but worth it. We came from Kyoto and had to take several trains, a cable car and a bus. The final train ride coming into Koyasan was really beautiful.

We were greeted very kindly by one of the monks, who helped us bring our baggage up to the rooms. Since there was 6 of us we stayed in two rooms with 3 in each room. The rooms were clean but small, the three of us had to sleep very close to each other. There were several clean shared bathrooms at the end of the hall. There was also a men and women's Japanese bath. We also discovered there was free wifi which I was not expecting in a Buddhist temple.

The view from the room looked out onto a beautiful hillside garden. Next to the window was a little table for tea and snacks, with a heated blanket for the chilly weather.

Dinner and breakfast were served in a private room with our friends. All the food was vegetarian and had a wonderful presentation. Our travels in the area found that there was very little other options for food, especially at night.

Wake up call was around 5 something for morning prayer. The ceremony was about 45 minutes long and all in Japanese. The ceremony was very interesting and there was actually parts were you could participate.

The temple is located very well to visit lots of the other temples that Koyasan has to offer. Our favorite was the temple Okunoin which is right next to Shojoshin-in. Okunoin contains an enormous graveyard and a temple that is surrounded by thousands of lanterns which was an unreal experience to see at night.

While the ride to get to Koyasan was long, I was happy with the one night we spent there. To us it felt like the perfect amount of time to see what we wanted as Koyasan is not very large. Shojoshin-in offered a comfortable and interesting place to stay while we were there.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Frosterra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
56 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 27, 2012

We stayed two nights here, paying much more than we would usually. We thought that it was worth it - a beautiful temple, with a sense of moving back in time. Our second-floor room was a delight: a main room ,with smaller sub-room facing on to a small balcony and view of the temple and garden. In the sub-room is a low table, under-table heater and cushions for sitting. Bean cakes and green tea were available in the room. The main room had a paraffin heater (very efficient and no smell). There was a washbasin in the room and toilets at the end of the corridor. The price was for half-board and we really enjoyed our evening meal and breakfast. It was served to us individually: once in a large dining room (but with separate sitting areas for each group of guests) and once in our own little room. There is little interaction with the monks: at check-in and then at meal-time. They were friendly but we found that there was little English spoken (this may vary depending on your monk). The morning meditation was moving: lasting about 35 minutes (you can sit on a bench if you prefer). It was rather chill in the temple, so dependent on the time of year, make sure that you arrive early and sit next to the paraffin heater, or wrap up warm. We enjoyed the temple onsen very much - a great way to unwind before our evening meal - although they are quite small. In our room, we were delighted with the yukata provided (the usual cotton but with a top wool layer that was very warm). Water bottles appeared in our bed whilst our evening meal was being served - magically they seemed to stay warm for a long time. Overall, we were delighted that we had treated ourselves to this. For the remainder of our trip we stayed in a range of hotels and guesthouses, mostly towards the budget end, and we would recommend adding this to one's range of experience! The temple is next door to the cemetery and this makes a lovely evening walk. We were pleased that we stayed two nights - just so that we had an interlude of quiet in our trip. If you just want to visit Koya San, then the sites can easily be visited within a day.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Veronica749
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edmonton, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 31, 2012

Temple is beautiful and has a rich history; surroundings is breathtaking. I strongly recommend taking a day trip to the site and enjoy the scenery. However, if I had to do it again, I would definitely not stay overnight. The cost of a two-person room is about $300 USD a night ... and this is the only similarity to a 5-star hotel (shared bathroom is not very clean, for example). But what about the 'spiritual experience'? How can a 5-star hotel beat that? Personally, I think when temples open themselves up for business, the spirituality aspect is already out the window. Next time, I would rather meditate in my hotel room -- with a "Do not Disturb" sign hung on the door.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
9 Thank Tony Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 30, 2012

Our night at Shojoshin-in and visit to Okunoin was a transformative experience. My first thought after being shown our room on the second floor of the temple was that it must surely be the most beautiful place on earth! It was so quiet and peaceful that it was almost surreal. The incredible gardens rose up the mountainside and seemed to be from another world. We spent the better part of a day wandering around Okunoin- what an amazing and magical place! The ancient cedar trees tower over hundreds of mossy marker stones, filtering the light. No wonder it is considered a sacred site. The monks were friendly and gracious, and it was an honor to join them for their morning ceremony, which was an unforgettable experience. And, the food was beautifully prepared and delicious... A written description or pictures of this place cannot capture it completely, and I'm glad. To the monks at Shojoshin-in: Thank you so much for the gift you have given us!

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank L P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 19, 2012 via mobile

To be frank, I am astonished this ranks at the top spot. I have just spent a night at Ekoin which was head and shoulders above this place & had I known would've spent both nights there.

A brief comparison shows what I mean:

Ekoin ¥10,000 - for this you get at least a third more food and the food is far better, free mediation class included, morning ceremony & fire ceremony which they let you photograph & is amazing! Trips that run like the night time trip to the nearby ceremony. Friendly staff ( one spoke English he was especially nice) able to eat dinner in your room.

Compare this to Shojoshin - ¥9600:
Food no where near as good as the above and a third less. Was led down to a cold room with flies where my food was lying on a table. Also no trips, no mediation but a morning ceremony only (I've yet to experience this but given so far don't expe t much!) was still hungry from dinner so ended up spending more than the ¥400 I'd saved on crisps, snacks etc no tv nor safe (unlike Ekoin) - this especially important given no keys for room so you end up lugging all your valuables with you - not ideal!

I think the above says it all really. Previous reviewers are obviously easily pleased or maybe this place has got complacent and rested on it's laurels. Either way I wouldn't come back here and disappointed given the glowing reviews I read before coming here

  • Stayed May 2012
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
12 Thank Juliemango30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shojoshin-in Temple

Property: Shojoshin-in Temple
Address: 566 Koyasan, Ito-gun, Koya-cho 648-0291, Wakayama Prefecture
Location: Japan > Kinki > Wakayama Prefecture > Ito-gun > Koya-cho
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 44 Specialty lodging in Koya-cho
Number of rooms: 6
Also Known As:
Shojoshin-In Temple Hotel Koya-Cho

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