The modern lifestyle comes with enormous stress. The evolution of technology has enabled us to be constantly connected with our peers and co-workers 24/7. Do you look at work documents on your phone during your commute? Do you respond to emails to your boss after-hours because you feel obligated? Or perhaps you find yourself going down the Instagram rabbit hole, comparing your life with someone’s picture perfect one and become riddled with anxiety. Let’s face it, stress factors are everywhere. But the level of stress city dwellers experience are likely higher than those who reside in the suburbs. Often times, Tokyo can be fast-paced, intense and just completely overwhelming. Admit it, by the time Friday rolls in, most of us are barely holding on. While dealing with stress and anxiety may seem like the inevitable in the big city, there are definitely ways you can cope and decompress. If you’re willing to tackle these issues, turning to zen meditation may be a good idea. Zen meditation, zazen in Japanese, is a meditative discipline Buddhist’s practice. Buddhists believe that zen meditation is an attitude of spiritual awakening and is crucial to mental development. It may be a good idea to try zazen meditation as it is considered to help reduce stress and anxiety and solve other psychological issues. Below is a list of 4 temples in Tokyo that hold meditation sessions in English.
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This temple offers meditation sessions near the shopping district of Shibuya. A five-minute walk from Hiroo station, this is the perfect temple to stop by if you’re in the mood for shopping and meditating in a day. Founded in 1668, Korin-In hosts Buddhism related events, such as calligraphy and yoga classes to the public. The meditation session consists of 50 minutes, with a 5-minute break in between, The weekday meditation session starts at 7 am and 5 pm for Sundays. If you’re not a morning person, coming to the weekday sessions may be a great way to turn yourself into becoming an early bird.
- Address: 5-1-21, Hiro, Shibuya, Tokyo
- Website: http://kourin-in.com/
Relocating to their current location in 1991, at first glance Kouunji may not strike you as a traditional temple, but don’t let looks deceive you. Kouunji is a temple of soto zen school that has been running for nearly 300 years. This temple is located in the residential neighborhood of Setagaya, where you can enjoy a scenery of flowers and trees in a calm atmosphere. They offer meditation sessions for beginners on Saturdays starting from 7 am and sessions for non-beginners on Sundays from 6:30 am. Beware, if you’re not fluent in Japanese you will need to make a reservation in advance.
- Address: 7-12−22, Kinuta, Setagaya, Tokyo
- Website: http://kouunji.or.jp/
Choko-ji is a temple of the soto school. The original building was destroyed due to catastrophic air raids during the war. The current building was built in 2001, so it doesn’t give off historic vibes you would typically associate with a traditional temple. A 10-minute walk from the world’s busiest station, Shinjuku station, this temple offers zen meditation for both beginners and seasoned meditators. The session for beginners are offered on the second Saturday of every month from 2 pm. Online reservations are necessary for all beginner participants. As for sessions for seasoned meditations, they start from 2 pm on the first and third Saturday of every month.
- Address: 1-5-2 Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
- Website: http://www.chokoji.net/zazen/
Located near Toranomon Hills, Seishoji is a prestigious temple which is part of the soto sect of Buddhism. Surrounded by beautiful greenery and statues, this is a soothing place to meditate. While most places charge a small fee for their meditating sessions, Seishoji doesn’t charge anything. So, if you’re new to the whole concept of meditation, this may be the temple you should come to. At the moment Seishoji is repairing their zazen hall and are not available for personal meditation sessions. However, the monthly meditation sessions are still ongoing and are held on the third Wednesday of the month for 7 pm in the main hall. On their website, there are specific instructions not to wear skirts or tight clothing. Please show up wearing pants longer than knee length as you will be crossing your legs for a long time.
- Address; 2-4-7, Atago, Minato-ku, Tokyo
- Website: http://seisyouji.p1.weblife.me/sanga/zazen/zen.english.html
How to Do Zen Meditation
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