There is a Zen temple called “Koshoji”, which is located in less 10min walk from my second home in Kyoto, “Guest House Yuu”. When I stayed there last time, the owner told me about the temple which holds the morning session of zazen meditation from 6:00 am every day for free! I gave it a try next morning right away.
There was a sign board saying “ No sight seeing ” at the entrance, which means it is not a temple for tourists. Entering the temple , I was ushered to a spacious hall in which there were thick quilt cushions lined up facing the garden .
Some people were already sitting there . Choosing my place with a cushion looking comfortable to sit on and fine view of the garden, I sat quietly. Although experienced zazen a couple of times so far, I’ve never done it that early. Fresh and cool air; not a sound heard except birds’ chirping; the smell of incense; every element made it very special.
However, this was not the end! Unlike zazen practice in other temples, this Koshoji temple asks participants for voluntary clean-up after the session! The chief monk , who was the only one monk working there though, said performing zazen is not only the practice of Zen; clean-up is also one of important Zen practice. We, all participants stepped out to the garden with a broom. Collecting fallen leaves, weeding in the moss bed; it was truly refreshed time and I felt being able to empty my mind during the work rather than zazen meditation!
After working for one hour, we were treated with rice porridge and miso soup for breakfast , which were all prepared by the monk and very delicious!!!!!!!!!
In this way, I got close to the temple and fascinated by the charm of Zen, zazen and 膳 !!( It is pronounced “zen”,which means a meal)