Experiential courses of every kind and a tour by the chief priest himself within this historical temple
A famous temple of more than 1200 years of history. A flower temple overflowing with blossoms throughout the four seasons. A treasure house of Important Cultural Properties from the Heian Era. They all describe the true Chokoku-ji Temple. However, the most distinguishing feature of this temple is the menu of overwhelming Buddhist experiences. The more than 30 kinds of experiences come from the many ideas of a gentlehearted chief priest. This menu devised over day and night with which many people have enjoyed and gotten close to the soul of Buddhism is extremely unique. Even just for zazen (seated meditation), there are 4 courses. There is the general zazen, zazen where you face the garden and feel nature, the zazen for experienced worshipers held at the Kannon-do Hall and even a challenging form of zazen which is held for 60 minutes on top of special stones. With temple tours, Buddhist statue viewing, bell-ringing, sutra copying, sutra instruction, paper cutting of Buddhist statues, making of rosaries/charms/fans/kaleidoscopes, consultations on life, workshops on preventing dementia, etc., there are innumerable courses available at the temple.
The Darkness Series, a specialty at Chokoku-ji: to die and to be reborn
Within the myriad courses at Chokoku-ji Temple, one that stands out is the Darkness Series. There is the Darkness Sermon where you hear a talk in the dark with only one candle lighting the room, and the special course at night of the Test of Courage which involves you walking inside the temple in the dark with only one candle lighting the way up to the arrival point where you take another candle for the return trip to the main hall. Another recommendation is the Experience of Darkness. You enter a coffin under the concept of “thinking actively about death, facing it head-on, and experiencing it while musing about a destiny in which humanity has no tomorrow”. The coffin doesn’t just come in a single size but also in a double size which may be a world’s first. Going into the coffin with a variety of thoughts, you might feel as if you have been reborn once you leave it.