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“Interesting stay in a welcoming temple.”
Review of Muryoko-in Temple

Muryoko-in Temple
Ranked #15 of 63 things to do in Koya-cho
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Attraction details
Owner description: Welcome to Muryokoin in Koyasan A Shingon Temple and Shukubo in Kobo Daishi's Paradise. The history of Muryokoin goes back more than 1000 years. Muryokoin and Shicchiin have been two temple, which were located on different places in Koyasan and moved to its present location during the Meji period after a the big fire in 1888. The name of Muryokoin means temple of the immeasurable light. It refers to Amida Nyorai, which is the main deity of our temple. Amida is the Japanese name of Buddha Amitabha,. He is the Buddha of infinite lighte and thus of infinite life. Amitabha is working for the enlightenment of all sentient beings by visualising this world as paradise. He is located in the Taizo, Matrix Mandala in the West. Book a stay with us. Access Muryokoin's official WEB.
Uppsala, Sweden
Level Contributor
15 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Interesting stay in a welcoming temple.”
Reviewed 12 June 2014

It's not the cheapest place to stay in Japan if you're travelling alone, like me. But I thought it was worth it. You get a look inside the daily workings of a Buddhist temple, you get to eat the food the monks eat, and you get the opportunity to experience the fire ceremony early in the morning. The food was very different to all the other food I had in Japan, but I'm not sure if would like to eat it every day. I guess you get used it. The service was excellent, almost too excellent, it felt a bit like the acolytes were servants. I am used to the more relaxed non-hierarchical Northern-European customs, so the subservient demeanour of the some of the acolytes was a bit shocking to me at times. I would nonetheless recommend a stay at this temple.

Visited April 2014
1 Thank Das_Oskar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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53 reviews from our community

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English first
Level Contributor
286 reviews
103 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 197 helpful votes
“Good shukubo”
Reviewed 8 May 2014

This was my 4th stay in Koyasan and 2nd stay at this shukubo. Each place has had its strengths and for me the strength of Muryoko-In was the morning ceremony and the good interaction with the monk who explained the process. During both visits they've performed a fire ceremony and we were able to participate by contributing our wish sticks (for a price!). Our hosts were friendly and accommodating with luggage. This time I stayed on the upper level which proved to be quieter - although during the day there was construction outside. But generally a comfortable and enjoyable visit.

Visited April 2014
1 Thank tav_mind
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Iowa City, Iowa
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Place of Pilgrimage not a Hotel”
Reviewed 11 October 2013

Our modern reason for travel is tourism, looking for fun and interesting sights to see. Certainly, this is possible at Koyasan, but shukubo like Muryokoin were originally established for those on pilgrimage to the holy mountain. Thus Muryokoin and other shukubo are not hotels and shouldn't be judged as such.
As an American Soto Zen practitioner I went to Koyasan and to Muryokoin as a pilgrim and this made all the difference in my experience there.

Beyond that a shukubo is more similar to a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. You sleep on rather thin futon on hard tatami mats. Yes, I found this uncomfortable as a Westerner, but this is typical traditional Japanese accommodation. Since the walls were shoji paper screens, you can hear your neighbors, but they quieted down. In any case I brought earplugs and an eyemask to deal with any extra noise and light.

The toilets while in separate stalls with doors, the toilet room is communal, and unusual even for Japanese men and women share the same room, though basic privacy is provided by the doors and stalls. There is a separate washroom, also traditional. As far as the smell complained about by other reviewers, I noticed it slightly in the toilet room itself, but it was not that significant in my view.

There is a communal bath, here as normal for Japan, with a separate bath for men and women. Since I was with a Japanese person I could make sure I followed the proper etiquette.

Food is served either in your room or in a communal room, we had ours in our room. Breakfast and dinner was served. You need to be in your room at the appropriate time and the shukubo is not set up to adapt to your schedule or provide room service. I thought the shojin ryouri literally temple food, ie vegetarian, was quite good.

For me the highlight of staying at Muryokoin was attending the 6 am goma (fire ritual) service. Shingon services are very impressive and Muryokoin is unusual in having a daily goma. After the service the monks took us to a tea room and we had tea, cakes and discussion. Muryokoin is unusual in having foreign monks, including the famous, in Japan, Swiss monk Kurt Genzo. I also meet some interesting visitors, two women Zen monks from California and a women Shingon monk from Spain.

In addition, while in Koyasan I was privileged to be able to participate in the kechien kanjo tantric initiation as well as jukai, taking the precepts in the Shingon shu (sect).

So while I didn't have any problem with smells, I would agree with other reviewers that for a Westerner, and even for my Japanese guide/friend, Koyasan and Muryokoin was tiring and could be uncomfortable at times. But, by comparison to the American Zen monastery that I typically attend, a shukubo was fairly slack and not anywhere near as demanding. If I expected a hotel, however, I'm sure I would be as unhappy as the other reviewers, since I went on pilgrimage and was ready for the conditions, I found it to be a very significant and important experience.

Visited October 2013
7 Thank ZenChrisW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Napa, California
Level Contributor
20 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Not to be repeated, but good for one visit”
Reviewed 10 July 2013 via mobile

We stayed at Muryokoin based on a recommendation from a Shikoku pilgrim who had visited there. While I am glad we visited, I wouldn't return.

Things that were good: Muryokoin is close to the bus stop so one need not walk too far. Moreover, Koyasan is about 5-10 degrees cooler than places of lower elevation so is a good summer escape. Tokyo was a little cooler this summer early in July, so it wasn't too much difference to us. It is a shukubo, so staying at one is a unique experience. However, if you have stayed at other shukubo, skip this one if you're doing it just for the experience.

The fire-burning ceremony is unique to the Shingon sect, and the monk Kurt Genso was very accommodating and friendly to explain about who Kobo Daishi is after the ceremony. After sitting in a smoke-filled room watching the backs of monks and listening to them chant for an hour and a half (6-7:30), he invited several people (mostly the foreigners) to his living room to talk and visit with him in English. While the ceremony is interesting, the meditation room became too smoky for my asthmatic friend, who wheezed for the rest of the day. I wish we could have seen what the monks were doing with the fire or had an explanation of the ceremony rather than simply sitting in a room that slowly filled with smoke and the chanting of the monks.

The parts that were negative: the young men working at the place always seemed in a hurry: running along the creaking corridors, almost colliding with guests. They seemed either shy or resentful about our being there. I am sure there was a lot to do, but they seemed to need to do it in double time and with little subtlety. The one who checked us in didn't speak English so he simply took us up and down corridors pointing at things we had to figure out.

Our futon covers were stained and the futon mattresses smelled mildewy. The shared toilets down the hall were pretty gross (the floor was wet and sticky) and going to them meant walking down the creaky hallway waking other people up. I didn't mind having bathrooms away from the rooms, but I felt bad creaking my way down the hall knowing I was likely waking someone up.

The hallway lights stay on all night, and since the doors are made of traditional paper, it streams in. I had an eye mask and earplugs from the airplane and made good use of those. I also found the closet where futon and bedding was stored and changed our bedding.

Hold on to your towels; they won't be changed overnight.

One postive: The vegetarian dinners were delicious and really filling. They were served at 6 pm each night. The first morning we stayed there, we were fed breakfast in a separate room with other foreign guests. The second morning, as we made our way to the breakfast room, we were briskly told our breakfast would be in our room. No idea why. Maybe group breakfasts are only served when other foreigners are there?

Anyway, I wouldn't recommend this place to people on a budget (this place was USD 100/night per person) or if they were picky in any way.

Visited July 2013
4 Thank Dooglebug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Canberra, Australia
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Friendly, but smelly and dirty. Unpalatable food.”
Reviewed 21 June 2013

In agreeance with some of the other reviewers here.

We expected that we would be easily woken due to the nature of the walls and prayer timing, so were not annoyed by this. We imagine it's similar to other temples in that case, and something to generally expect if staying at traditional Japanese accommodation.

The monks were quite friendly. And the fire ceremony in the morning was an experience. However the good points stop there.

As you arrive you'll be led down a noisy old hallway that stinks of urinals. The smell isn't left behind though. Half of the food was unpalatable due to the permeating smell.

Although the meals were well presented, it tasted simply awful. The food here was cold, including pre-cooked tempura which had become soggy. And that was one of the better (edible) parts of one of the meals we had here. The other palatable items were the plain rice and fresh fruit (half a piece each).

We have experienced excellent vegetarian Japanese food before, which has been nutritious and beautiful despite it being plain. There was not a bit of it found here at Muryokoin.

When we asked for a cup to drink our tea in, we were advised to use the rice bowl once we had finished... This, despite dinner being served in 13 individual receptacles?!

The linen was dirty. The floor mats had stains on them. No soap to wash hands with after going to the toilet. Overall not very clean at all.

Pick another temple to stay in, or skip Koyasan altogether...

Visited June 2013
4 Thank Anny933
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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