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“Atmospheric town, but definitely not a tranquil temple”
Review of Rengejoin Temple

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Rengejoin Temple
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Atmospheric town, but definitely not a tranquil temple”
Reviewed 18 July 2010

Koya-san – and particularly, the Oku-in Cemetery – is one of the most charming, atmospheric and eerie places to visit in Japan. Its streets, lined with temple complexes and monasteries, are quiet (in early April, at least). The cemetery is vast, a maze of graves and stone torii, covered in moss, shadowed from the sun.

We chose to stay overnight at Rengejo-in, wanting to experience accommodation in a temple lodging with evening and morning meditation. The temple, apparently, is one of the few with English-speaking staff, including the abbot, which made the stay more rewarding as he explained the purpose of the meditation and carried out his sermon in English.

The accommodation was basic, as expected. Our room was separated from three others by sliding paper doors and it got very chilly at night. The food was vegan, but tasty. The temple grounds were attractive and the monks helpful.

What let this temple down was the number of people. We had, perhaps naively, expected there to be only a few other people staying – in fact, there were probably 50-60 other people staying, including a coach party of rowdy Japanese pensioners, which meant we were never able to experience the solitude (or, indeed, anywhere near the tranquillity) that we had come for.

  • Stayed April 2010, travelled as a couple
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
5 Thank Takanocraig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (6)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
brooklyn, ny
Level Contributor
29 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 April 2009

Stayed one night at Rengejoin, one of the largest shukubo lodgings in Koya-san, in a mid-level room. Temple facility is large and beautiful, with most rooms surrounding, and having a view of a big central garden. Our tatami room was enormous: enter into big foyer area where the closets for the futons are, past sliding doors into the central room with a kotatsu (!!), painted walls, and tokonoma, and past more shoji doors to the balcony with garden view. Room stayed warm overnight with space heater, and futons were comfortable. Guests are invited to join evening meditation and morning service; English explanation is offered if enough foreign guests are present (although the head priest's pronunciation requires concentration to understand). Dinner is served in a communal dining area with floor seating. Shojin ryori (vegetarian) is the specialty.
Although a variety of food was served, portions were very small, flavors mild to bland, and service a bit slow for both breakfast and dinner (e.g., waiting on rice, tea). Mileage may vary on this. The head priest's mother speaks in fluent English to foreign guests at dinner, telling her history, as well as that of Koya-san and Rengejoin. Bath and ofuro are traditional and communal, clean and well-kept facilities. Toilets also communal and spotlessly clean. Because of the shukubo's size, groups often stay (two during our stay), and large groups tromping through the facility takes away from the atmosphere. A smaller shukubo would avoid that but the size of Rengejoin added to the experience. All-in-all, our room was the highlight of our stay. Although Rengejoin is conveniently located relative to the cable car (second bus stop), it is also one of the farthest from Oku-no-in (30 min walk), a drawback if you want a late evening/night walk through the cemetary (buses stop running late afternoon, shukubo have schedules for dinner, bath hours, and curfew).

  • Stayed April 2009, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
11 Thank azalie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 October 2007

We recently stayed at Renegjo-in for a couple of nights. The rooms are traditional style, with Tatami mat floors and paper screens. This means you are rather dependent upon your neighbours being considerate; luckily ours were. The food is, again, traditional and vegetarian. This can be a little challenging at breakfast... but it's all part of the experience. The highlight of evening meal was the talk given by the current head priest's mother. She speaks impeccable English.

I would recommend going to the evening meditiation and morning prayer. It's an interesting experience.

  • Stayed October 2007, travelled as a couple
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    • Check-in / front desk
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Helpful?
4 Thank Mountebank
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 27 May 2006

I stayed one night in the Rengejoin Temple in Koya-san, and it was one of the highlights of my trip to Japan.

Koya-san is a mountain south of Kyoto/Osaka, and is considered one of the holiest Buddhist shrines in Japan. There are over 100 Buddhist temples on Koya-san, and many of them accept tourists. I chose Rengejoin Temple because I had read that they were especially well-equipped for foreigners, and indeed, most of the guests were from Europe and the US. This did not make the visit less authentic, however, since this is a functioning temple, just more accessible for those who do not speak Japanese.

The price includes the room, dinner (which was excellent) and breakfast. It is also possible to attend evening and morning prayers (with a brief explanation in English by the chief priest), which allowed for a fascinating insight into Buddhist practices.

The only possible drawback is the price. It was relatively expensive given the location (about 9,000 yen per night), and there are certainly cheaper temples on Koya-san. That being said, the money has been invested in the temple, which is kept up in impeccable shape (including breathtakingly beautiful gardens).

I highly recommend Rengejoin.

  • Stayed May 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
14 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Rengejoin Temple

Property: Rengejoin Temple
Address: 700Koyasan, Ito-gun, Koya-cho 648-0211, Wakayama Prefecture
Region: Japan > Kinki > Wakayama Prefecture > Ito-gun > Koya-cho
Hotel Style:
Ranked #18 of 45 Speciality lodging in Koya-cho
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 48
Also Known As:
Rengejoin Temple Hotel Koya-Cho

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