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Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Fuchinobō: Nagano’s Top Shukubō & Its Exquisite Shōjin Ryōri

Zenkoji Temple is the landmark around Nagano Station. Speaking of temple, the term Shōjin Ryōri (精進料理) might pop into your head. The best place to try the monk cuisine close to the temple is Fuchinobō (淵之坊). It is one of the 39 sub-temples of Zenkoji Temple that allow visitors to stay overnight (Shukubō, 宿坊). If you don’t have the time or budget for an overnight stay, having lunch at Fuchinobō is another option.

Fuchinobō’s Shōjin Ryōri

Fuchinobō’s Shōjin Ryōri is completely vegan. In addition, the food is prepared Allium-free (no onion, garlic, leeks, chives, or asafoetida).

The represented dish among the multi-course meal is called Full Moon (Mangetsu, 満月). The moon’s filling is made using stir-fried shiitake mushrooms and other vegetables with walnuts and miso. Japanese yam grown in Nagano Prefecture is used to wrap the filling to form the white moon.

Other small dishes are also carefully prepared and elegantly designed. You will be treated one of the most phenomenal vegan meals you will ever had in Japan.

  • The Special Shōjin Kaiseki courses, Zen (善) and Hikari (光), are served in a private room. Each course has 15 dishes and costs 6,600 yen and 5,500 yen, respectively.
  • The Shōjin Kaiseki courses, En (縁) and Yui (結), are served in the large hall. Each course has 11 dishes. They cost 4,400 yen and 3,300 yen, respectively.

Spending at Night at Fuchinobō

We highly recommend spending a night at Fuchinobō. It is one of those experiences that will allow you to fully adore Japanese culture. The staff here is friendly, offers top-notch service, and shows they care about their guests. If you can’t speak Japanese, an English-speaking volunteer guide will show you around when you participate in Zenkoji’s morning service.

In the morning, you can attend the Oasaji (お朝事) and the Rosary Blessing (O-Juzu Chōdai, お数珠頂戴), the unique morning rituals at Zenkoji Temple. During the morning visit guided by Fuchinobō’s staff, you can explore Zenkoji’s main hall (Hondō, 本堂) without being disturbed by other day visitors.

The guestrooms at Fuchinobō are spacious. The temple can arrange for you to sleep on Western-style beds. However, please let them know in advance, as the number of beds is limited. If you can’t climb stairs, you can use the freight elevator.

Unlike most Shukubō in Japan, Fuchinobō’s facilities have been upgraded to use modern technology. So, your stay in the traditional-style building will be very comfortable. Just note that bathrooms, washbasins, and toilets are shared.

The schedule of your stay at Fuchinobō is likely to be as follows: Check-in (3 pm) → Shower/bathing → Dinner/Shōjin Ryōri (6 pm) → Bedtime → Oasaji + O-Juzu Chōdai (this can be as early as 5 am) → Breakfast → Check-out (10 am)

Tip: In winter, winter attire may be rented out if you need more warm clothes to join the Osaji.

Dinner is served in your room. The staff will bring the Shōjin Ryōri while you are bathing. If you have any valuables, you can lock them in the lockers in your room.

How to Reserve Your Lunch and Your Stay at Fuchinobō

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