Temple of Peace

Staying at Antaiji


Antaiji is looking for serious Zen practitioners who seek a long term stay in a Japanese monastery and who also want to contribute to the monastery's community life. If you have already practiced at Antaiji and know your way around, however, you may also apply for a short term stay.

We expect aspirants to stay for a probation period of 80 days. After that you and the rest of the community can evaluate whether a long term stay is advisable. Aspirants can arrive at Antaiji at four dates during the year only: March 26th, April 26th, August 26th or September 26.

Things to keep in mind when you come to Antaiji:

Please do not forget to obtain permission before you come. After having obtained permission, please reconfirm your arrival date two or three days before you come (by e-mail or phone, see below - if you arrive on the 6th, please confirm before the sesshin starts).

Please be aware that Antaiji can not take any responsibility for accidents, injuries or other damage to your physical or mental health whatsoever, which might occur during your stay here. The responsibility for your life and health as well as your practice in general lies solely on yourself.

Antaiji is a Zen monastery, not a guesthouse. We accept serious practioners of Zen. If you are not, please look for a youth hostel.

Antaiji is supported solely by donations. We have no parish and receive no money from the Soto sect. Therefore it is up to you to decide if you want to contribute financially to our practice.

If possible, bring your own rain boots and rain gear, as we have no big sizes here. Although we have no fixed age restrictions for short term visitors, the practice is recommended for people of younger age. Physical labour outside (working the fields, cutiing trees etc.) can take place in heavy weather and is physically demanding.

Dinner table

Zazen is usually practiced in the full or half lotus position (i.e. sitting on a cushion with crossed legs). During sesshin, we spent a total of 15 hours in this position. On regular days, we spent 4 hours in zazen. Meals and tea meetings are performed in seiza, i.e. a kneeling position. Please try to get used to these sitting positions before you come. Yoga exercises can help. At Antaiji though, you won't have much time for streching exercises.

Meals are mostly but not 100% vegetarian. The rules for eating are complicated, and the food is usually eaten very fast. You will be expected to eat everything in your bowls, regardless if you like the food or not (even fish or meat products, if they appear on the table). It is not allowed to eat or drink in the individual rooms between meals.

We accept both men and women in Antaiji, but no couples (unless both partners come here as seperate individuals and suspend their relationship for the duration of the stay). Groups are only accepted if each single member of the group applies individually and comes to Antaiji because he or she is really interested, not just because his or her friends also participate.

Speaking Japanese is not a necessary condition for practicing in Antaiji, but a basic knowledge of the language and Japanese culture in general will be extremely helpful (for the simple reason that this is Japan and not everyone here speaks English). Communication is important in a community where everyone performs all of the activities of the day together harmoniously. If you don't speak the language, you will have to try to listen all the more receptive to understand the other people's minds.

The community is structured hierarchically, and everyone is expected to fit in.

Please read the schedules and the manual for practice before you come. It will give you an idea of some of the rules that regulate our life. Please keep in mind though that the reality that you might find here will always be different from the picture you have in your mind now.

If possible, take a look at the "Adult practice" articles too. They are written by the present abbot.

In front of the chicken barn

Antaiji is not looking for visitors. We need long term residents. If you want to stay at Antaiji as a long term resident, you should be willing to commit yourself for a minimum of three years. Before you make that commitment, please arrive on either March 26th or April 6th of a year, and stay for three months (as an exception, it is also possible that youa rrive on August 26th and stay through the autumn). After that, both you and the rest of the community will be able to judge if such a commitment will be realistic or not.

Things to keep in mind as a long term resident:

People who want to commit themselves as long term residents should first keep the same things in mind as short term visitors.

But unlike short term visitors, long term residents are expected to commit themselves to a stay of three years minimum, and to stay at Antaiji all year round. There is the possibility to take a break after Rôhatsu sesshin finishes, until after New Year's. The rest of the year, long term residents will be busy with zazen, agricultural and other work, and studies.

Residents do not have to pay for their stay, but they also receive no pocket money from the temple. Health insurance and other expenditures have to be covered by private begging tours during the winter break.

Long term residents should be somewhere between 18 and 40 years of age when they commit themselves.

Long term residents will not only spent long hours meditating, but will also share responsibilities in and around the temple, such as being cook, guest manager, answering phone calls, taking responsibility for vegetable and rice fields, doing repair and other mechanical work, driving and maintaining vehicles etc.

Maintaining chain saws

This means that it is not enough for residents to be on some kind of inner quest, but they should also have a keen interest in actively participating in the challenges of the outside world.

The reason why we expect long term residents to stay for at least three years is that it takes at least one year to get an over-view of all the tasks and responsibilities at the monastery. During the second year, residents deepen their understanding of how each of the tasks is connected to the others. They will learn not only how to use tools and machines, but also how to maintain and repair them. Usually it is not before the third year though, that residents are not only able to take care of each of their own individual tasks and responsibilities, but also to teach and lead others in their practice.

It will be of great advantage if long term residents already have some of the following skills when they arrive:
1) Experience in cooking, preferably Japanese cooking.
2) Mechanical and carpenter skills.
3) Farming experience.
4) The ability to both use and maintain vehicles and machines, such as cars, trucks, tractors, chain saws, grass cutters, power shovels, bulldozers etc.
5) Language skills. Residents should not only be fluent in English, but also be able to speak and read a reasonable amount of Japanese (at least level 4 of the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test JLPT) and other languages.

After work

For both short term visitors and long term residents:

Visa regulations differ for each nation. Most visitors from Western countries receive a 90 days visa on arrival, which can sometimes be extended for another 90 days (this is only true for the following nationalities: Mexico, Ireland, England, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein - July 2007). After this you will have to leave the country and can - if you wish - apply for a longer visa. For some nationalities it is possible to apply for a working holiday visa for a year (there are age restrictions). You can find the offical visa regulations at the website of the Immigration Bureau, Japanese Ministry of Justice. We can't help visitors whom we don't know personally with their visa application before they come to Antaiji.

Here is How to get here. And if you want to know about the weather conditons we have, take a look at the weather in Hamasaka. Antaiji lies about 350 meters higher than Hamasaka, so subtract 2 degrees Celcius to get the approximate temperature. Temperartures inside the building are more or less the same as outside (also in winter). Keep in mind that the humidity is very high, i.e. to usually "feels" hotter in summer and colder in winter than it actually is.

If - after reading the above - you still feel like practicing at Antaiji, you can apply here.

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