Discover Inner Peace in Tokyo: 8 Zen Meditation Experiences for Travelers

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Zen meditation, an ancient practice of Buddhist monks, has become accessible to everyone in many temples in Tokyo. In our fast-paced world, finding a moment to clear one’s mind is increasingly essential. If you’re wondering where to start and how to get guidance, this article introduces eight temples in Tokyo offering Zen meditation sessions suitable for beginners. It’s a chance to rediscover yourself.

What is Zen Meditation?

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Zen meditation involves sitting in a specific posture and unifying the mind to face oneself, a Buddhist method of training. Its significance lies in quietly reflecting on one’s inner self. Originating from the practices of Buddha, the correct term is “坐禅” (Zazen), indicating the act of sitting, though “座禅” is commonly used for convenience.

The Three Charms of Zen Meditation

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  1. Improving Posture: Ideal for those with sedentary lifestyles, meditation can help correct posture.
  2. Breath and Calmness: Regulating your breathing during meditation can bring about a sense of relaxation.
  3. Self-reflection and Clarity: Meditation provides an opportunity to introspect, potentially clearing doubts and worries about relationships or work.

Basic Zen Meditation Techniques

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  1. Fold a cushion under your seat.
  2. Position your legs in either the half-lotus or full-lotus position.
  3. Place your hands on your lap, right over left, with thumbs lightly touching.
  4. Keep your chin tucked and find a stable center of gravity.
  5. Begin with deep abdominal breathing, gradually settling into a quieter rhythm.
  6. Focus on counting your breaths to quiet the mind.

Meditation Etiquette and Dress Code

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Wear comfortable clothing like sportswear, and check for changing facilities beforehand. Eat moderately before the session and note that most temples do not offer support in languages other than Japanese.

Eight Zen Meditation Temples in Tokyo

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Ryūun-ji (Setagaya Ward) :龍雲寺

Ideal for beginners, offering short meditation sessions followed by tea and sweets. Check their website for details.

Ryuunji Temple / Tokyo Zen Center
Ryuunji Hall, 3-37-2 Nozawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Shōkoku-ji Tokyo Betsuin (Minato Ward) :相国寺 東京別院

For those seeking a more advanced experience. Check their website for specific dates and times.

Shokokuji Tokyo Betsuin
13-12, Minami-Aoyama 6-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Chōkō-ji (Shinjuku Ward) :長光寺

Offers separate sessions for beginners and experienced practitioners. Free participation with prior online reservation.

Soto Zen Buddhism Tamabozan Chokoji Temple
1-5-2 Hyakunincho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Access: 5 minutes from Seibu Shinjuku Station

Manpuku-ji (Katsushika Ward) :万福寺

Known for its monthly sessions, requiring ongoing participation. No fee but a small meal cost.

Manpukuji Temple
6-17-20 Shibamata, Katsushika-ku, Tokyo

Jōgan-ji (Nakano Ward) :成願寺

Emphasizes the teachings of Dogen Zenji, with weekly sessions open for spontaneous participation.

Soto Zen Tahozan Seiranji Temple
2-26-6 Honcho, Nakano-ku, Tokyo

Hōdozan Hase-dera (Minato Ward) :補陀山長谷寺

Welcomes first-timers to their weekly meditation in a serene environment.

Daihonzan Eiheiji Betsuin Haseji Temple
2-21-34 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Taizō-ji (Toshima Ward) :泰宋寺

Offers weekly morning sessions, requiring early arrival and prior contact for newcomers.

Soto Zen Buddhism Hourinzan Taisozenji Temple
7-1-1 Komagome, Toshima-ku, Tokyo

Kōjō-ji (Hachioji) :高乗寺

Located amidst nature near Mount Takao, offering day-long retreats including meditation and vegetarian meals for a fee. Advance inquiry by phone is necessary.

Ryuunsan Takanoriji Temple 
1425 Hatsuzawa-cho, Hachioji-shi, Tokyo


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Experience the unique tranquility of Zen meditation in Tokyo, a refreshing contrast to the city’s hustle. Each temple offers a distinct ambiance and approach, inviting travelers to find peace and clarity within.