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“In total, a nice experience”
Review of Muryokoin

Muryokoin
Ranked #24 of 64 things to do in Koya-cho
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Attraction details
Owner description: Welcome to Muryokoin in Koyasan. Muryokoin is a Shingon Temple and Shukubo (temple-lodging) in Kobo Daishi's Paradise. Muryokoins history goes back more than 1000 years. Muryokoin was united with Shicchiin after a big fire in 1888, during the Meji period. Both temples were located on different places in Koyasan before and moved to their present location after the fire. The name of Muryokoin means temple of immeasurable light, which refers to our main deity, Amida. Muryoko is the Japanese translation for Amitabha, Amida Nyorai in Japanese. He is the Buddha of infinite light and thus of infinite life. Amitabha is working for the enlightenment of all sentient beings by visualizing this world as paradise. He is located in the Taizo-/Matrix-Mandala in the West. Our guest rooms are traditional Tatami-rooms. You are welcome to book a stay with us through our English Website. During your stay you are invited to participate in the morning ceremony and watch Goma, the Shingon-Fire-Ceremony.
Reviewed 10 January 2013

This is the first temple I spent a night in a temple, so I cannot compare it to anything else, but I will compare it to a ryokan.

I arrived at 2pm, check in was at 3pm, so I left my baggage on the corridor. The monk who greeted me spoke ok English. He told me to be there before 4.30pm. So I did. Upon arriving, I left my shoes in the storage shelfs and registered in the "reception". A young monk brought me a pair of sleepers, took my bag and led me to my room. The room was like a ryokan room, with an electric heater, so it was at a great temperature. The monk said that dinner would be arriving soon and left. A few minutes later he came back with some tea and a japanese sweet. 20 minutes later he arrived with 4 trays of food!! I had asked for the full dinner, and indeed it was enormous. He laid everything on the floor of my room by the entrance (not the sleeping area) and left. The food was all vegetarian, but had I not known, I would had sweared there was fish in there! Very tasty also. The temperature outside my room was freezing, walking with the sleepers made things worse. Besides the sleepers were smaller than my size, and half my foot was out! I did not manage to find larger sleepers, and I don't really have big feet. I took a stroll around the temple, taking some photos. The wooden floors would creak but not too much. The thin paper walls made it easy to listen to anyone inside the rooms. There were both japanese and european style toilets, both of which lead to a big drain underneath. So while seating, you could hear the results of your "neighbors" efforts!!! No real problem there, except the cold. It was cold. And there was no hanger in the restroom to hang your clothes. Plus, the restrooms were mixed gender. Very unpleasant experience. Later that evening I had a bath in the japanese style bath area, in which I met some fine people who could speak english, which made my experience much more enjoyable (thanks Jimmy!). Just before closing time (9 pm) the young monks of the temple came to have their bath. I then went to bed, which was quite comfortable, considering it's only a think mattress on the floor. The duvet was very warm, so no issues with cold. I woke up at 5pm to get ready for the 6pm ceremony. The baths are closed in the morning so washing your head and face in freezing temperatures is not everyone's dream, but bearable. We then entered the ceremony area. The actual ceremony is very mystical. Candles everywhere, dim lights, scented candles and chanting. It reminded me of Eastern Orthodox chapels. We were sitting and watching the ceremony, but the walls had cracks from which cold stream would enter, freezing our backs and feet. The monks had brought in two gas heaters, but unless you were in front of them, they were redundant. We were lucky to watch the fire ceremony and to take part in it, but making offerings to the deity of the temple. The ceremony lasted 1 1/2 hours, after which a head monk explained a few things about it to us, both in Japanese and in English. We then proceeded to the breakfast area, where we all had a nice breakfast and were able to chat. Check out time was 9pm, so right after breakfast we packed up and left.

I would say that I wanted to feel more involved, but it was too "conventional" for me. I was expecting more of the ceremony, and maybe more interaction with the monks. But it was like we were not there, the monks were too busy or something, because they would always rush from one place to another. It was like a traditional ryokan, with a hint of a temple.

3  Thank megatim1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"morning ceremony"
in 6 reviews
"other guests"
in 4 reviews
"communal bath"
in 3 reviews
"vegetarian meal"
in 3 reviews
"english language"
in 2 reviews
"temple stay"
in 3 reviews
"great temple"
in 2 reviews
"walk around"
in 2 reviews
"early in the morning"
in 2 reviews
"unique experience"
in 2 reviews
"buddhist temple"
in 2 reviews
"shingon buddhism"
in 2 reviews
"goma"
in 4 reviews
"futon"
in 10 reviews
"room"
in 19 reviews
"explanation"
in 4 reviews
"ritual"
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Reviewed 30 November 2012

If you can stand the smell of latrine snaking its way down the hallway, and after polluting the first floor going up to the second floor, through the screens, and into your soup, then this may be ok for you. If not, do yourself a huge favor and skip this place. I went in early November and can't imagine how disgusting this must be in the summer. Anyone with a sense of smell (which the Japanese are allegedly famous for) or a desire for cleanliness (yeah, renowned for this too) would be well-served by staying elsewhere.

It really is too bad that such an otherwise beautiful place is so vile. It was impossible to enjoy the cuisine they are so famous for, since if someone can't smell and doesn't clean their bathrooms, I felt better off trusting the FamilyMart kitchens.

One monk in particular was extremely nice to me, and everyone else tried. The garden looked very nice, what I saw of the prayer room through the smoke was interesting, and the bath was certainly passable. They could have used an extra hair dryer, since it was quite cold and wet hair is asking for pneumonia. It was fairly close to the bus stop, but most places seemed to be.

Oh, and for those of you who have never stayed at a temple before, remember that there are no locks and it is possible for anyone to waltz in off the street. (I did it in several other temples with no problem.) The up side is that the walls are literally paper-thin and you will be treated to every conversation and snort of your fellow inmates, which means they can hear you if there is an issue. Sleep with a whistle, which is a good policy anyway. The monks also aren't very light on their feet and the stomping reverberates throughout at least the main structure, although I can see how it would in the secondary one as well. The bell-ringing will wake anyone in a 200 meter radius, which is no issue if you are waking up jet-lagged at 3:00 anyway but might be a bit inconvenient otherwise. Also be very careful, the floors (including the stairs) are polished slick and when you're wearing slippers that don't fit trying to keep your clothes on, it can be a bit of a challenge. Forget rushing like the monks do to deliver your din din.

1  Thank GaiginJen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 November 2012 via mobile

Wow, where to start. I arrived at 17.20, as I told them in advance, as I was traveling all day from Yakushima. After checking in, I was rushed to my room. It was a journey from the entrance, past a couple noticeably stinky latrines, and freezing cold. There were brown stains on the walls. I asked where the women's toilet was, and was shown to an even more putrid smelling set of urinals and squat toilets. I asked if there was another room; no. At 17.40 I was told dinner would be served (in my miserable room) at 17.45, though it was listed as 18.00. i had just arrived, was freezing cold. I asked if I could have a few minutes -and was told "five". I sat there stunned. Dinner came at 18.40. It was cold- everything- rice and soup, cold. And it was bad. Edible, but every dish was sweet, and extremely I delicious. I took a bath, came back to room and found futon laid out, with visibly dirty bottom sheet, bunch of hairs on it, topped by a scangy blanket and a further dirty comforter. Seriously gross. I went and found the linen closet which luckily had two clean sheets, so I could sleep between them. "Sleep". Not sleep is what I mean- I could have read all night there was so much light coming in from window and door. Breakfast was really sad, I think they had one room for foreigners and another for Japanese; and the young monk trainee gave us each a couple tablespoons of rice, and one had to practically before more. Gives shukubo a bad rep, for people who don't know such poor food and care is not typical. Totally sucked. Moved to Shojoshoin the next day- almost the same price- beautiful room, incredible food.

2  Thank Kurigohan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 October 2012

Muryokoin is a perfect place to stay overnight in Koyasan as it is centrally located. Also dinner and breakfast were great. But the main reason to stay here is the possibility to join and witness a Shingon morining service and the Goma ritual. Both are held at the same time between 6am an 7.30 am and guests can sit and watch and even participate by making offerings. While the monks, priests and students chant Shingon sutras,strike bells and perform mutras a head priest burns sticks of wood that have writings on them. There are only few places in Japan where this ceremony is done every morning.
After the ritual a monk explaines the ceremony in English and invites guests for tea for further explanations. Communication is easy as there are priests from outside Japan at Murokoin and as some of the monks from Japan speak English.
We found this a wonderful place.

3  Thank Robinyy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 19 October 2012

So this is the one where the now famous Swiss monk resides. He's a personality and if you get him chatting you'll learn a lot about Buddhism and especially the Shingon sect. The two most intesting and worthwhile things to stay here for are: a) the 6:00 am Fire Ceremony and b) the food. Both are feasts of the senses. Not to be missed.
The rooms are very traditional Japanese ryokan style. The other monks are efficient and not to engaging. Probably shy about their English.
Western and Japanese style toilets. I had to go down the stairs and down to hall to reach mine. The Japanese bath is small but clean.
This is a monastery first and a ryokan second so don't expect special treatment. Not for those who like to stay at the Hilton but definitely a great experience.

2  Thank pollywog333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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