Q: Why do we require a 3 day minimum stay?
A: Most of our guests stay a week or more in order to have the full experience offered here; to settle into the special rhythm of this place and truly experience the benefits of meditation. This is the primary intention behind our Zen Retreat. We make an exception for those who have stayed with us previously, you are welcome for shorter stays upon request.
Q: Do I need to speak any Japanese to attend the retreat?
A: No. Your host, Jiho, speaks very good everyday English and all of the activities with guests are conducted in English. Discussions on the basics of Zen, Japanese culture, meditation, etc. are easily had. If you are expecting advanced cultural, scientific, or philosophical discourse in English, however, you may be disappointed. This level of communication would need to happen in Japanese.
Q: When is your check in and check out time?
A: Its essential that you organize your travel around our very liberal Checkin/Checkout times: 8:00am – 10pm/22:00. We ask that you do not arrive for checkin or call for pickup before 8am or after 10pm. Please organize your travel accordingly, and please don’t ask us if you can extend these times. These are strict limits at the retreat because we are either sleeping or meditating during these times. please respect this. Apart from this, there is no strict check in or checkout time, although we ask that you show courtesy and consideration to other guests on your arrival and departure day. It is possible that you will not have access to your room if you check in in the earlier part of the day. You will however, have access to the entire retreat so it will be easy to have a bath, a nap, or almost anything else you might like to do before you get access to your room.
Q: Why are the fees calculated per guest, and not per room? Why can’t I keep an extra guest in my room for free?
A: With a hotel or hostel the fee is based on the space you use, cleaning the room, washing the sheets, etc. These factors change very little for the hotel if you add another guest to the same room.
The considerations are completely different for us. Our fee is based on providing a personalized homestay experience that includes meals, activities, and is normally strictly limited to four guests. Since guests make up their own futon beds and maintain their own tatami rooms, the sleeping configuration guests choose has no relationship to our fee.
This fee structure is also quite common at traditional Japanese ryokan style hotels, since they tend to be more service oriented, and not just space oriented like we may be used to outside of Japan.
For these reasons, fees discussed or outlined on our website are always per person, not per room.
Q: How much do off-site excursions usually cost?
A: You should expect to pay your own part of off-site excursion expenses. Decisions regarding day trips or overnight excursions are normally made with the interests and preferences of all guests considered. There is no fixed cost, and there is no standard excursion. You are also permitted to opt out of any excursion and remain at the retreat. In this case you will be responsible for your own meal preparation, however. If the excursion is overnight, there will be no morning meditation at the retreat.
Jiho does not generally charge extra for taking guests on excursions. He enjoys spending time with his guests, and regular outings in the car are something he considers part of the package. That said, there are usually some destination costs involved in excursions, and your should expect to pay your own part, at minimum.
Remember; the retreat is a temple, Jiho is a monk, and the “business model” is a spiritual one, not a commercial one. He tends toward extreme generosity. Behave accordingly. Show generosity in return.
A few tips on how to approach all this:
If you take a longer trip, it is strongly encouraged that you contribute to fuel costs, but Jiho will probably not ask for it. Either pay for your part of the cost of any one excursion, or reciprocate the way you would with a friend (for example if he drives you around all day and pays for various admission fees to sights, gas, road tolls, etc; perhaps you might pay for dinner.). For potentially more expensive excursions such as overnight stays at ryokans, karaoke, higher end restaurants, etc; ask Jiho for your expected costs in advance.
Q: Do I have to bring my own towels and bed linens?
A: No. The retreat provides towels, sheets, blankets, etc to guests.
Q: Do you accept payment in dollars or other foreign currency?
A: We definitely prefer Japanese Yen, in cash, as payment, however foreign currency can be exchanged at a nearby bank, or you can simply withdraw Yen at an ATM. We suggest that if you need to exchange foreign currency, that you do so in Oita or Fukuoka, not at a smaller bank near the retreat. You will get much better/faster service.
Q: Where can I obtain Japanese Yen to make payment for my stay?
A: “International” ATMs can be found at Post offices and some other locations, where you can easily use most foreign debit cards and major credit cards to withdraw Japanese currency. Jiho can easily drive you to one of these machines if necessary. For stays of more than a few days, please take your daily or weekly withdrawal limits into account when planning your payment(s).
Q: Why do you prefer payments in cash (Japanese Yen)?
A: Two reasons: 1) Temples in Japan traditionally receive payments and donations in cash. 2) The retreat is a micro-business with a very personal touch and a small number of guests. Cash keeps things simple for us and lowers costs.
Our sole option to receive electronic payments is through AirBnB.com. Increased costs are reflected, however. Our listings can be found here:https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/1471455 and https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/494836
Q: What if I absolutely need to make payment for my stay in advance; electronically, or by credit card?
A: We understand that electronic prepayment may sometimes be preferred or required. Our sole option to receive electronic payments is through AirBnB.com. Increased costs are reflected, however. Our listings can be found here:https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/1471455 and https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/494836.
Alternately, we could accept and international money order or certified cheque, but these forms of payment must be completely cleared by the source financial institution before your stay begins.
Q: Is there a dress code, or any special clothing I need?
A: The dress code is very casual. No special clothing is required to stay at the retreat. We do have a few suggestions, however, to improve your comfort and enjoyment during your stay. Loose, comfortable clothing is suggested for meditation. If its during the cooler 9 months of the year, you will want WARM, loose, comfortable clothing for both meditation and sleeping. Japanese temples are not well insulated! Expect it to get chilly at night and early in the morning. Good walking shoes are also useful as there is excellent hiking and on-foot exploring in the area, as well as for some of the excursions that Jiho might suggest. See the section “Taste the Season” at the bottom of the Booking Your Stay page. Take special note of the temperatures in the winter and the summer. Its important to come prepared.