What you experience at Horakuan will, of course, depend on the time of the year that you stay. I went in April – Spring with all of the unpredictable weather that the season can bring. So we experienced bright sunny days, cool days and even a blanket of snow!
Our work was to help prepare the gardens for the coming year – weeding, etc. and although we usually worked in the mornings we did a couple of afternoons. It’s hard to see weeds when they are covered in snow!!
Besides unpredictable weather, Spring also brings Japan’s famous cherry blossoms and the timing was perfect, they were at their peak. In addition to the blossoms, we also got to see a spectacular view of the Alps, morning visits from “Billy” the mountain goat, and the field outside of the temple magically populated by wild monkeys!! Wow!
All of this because of living at the Temple and having a wonderful hostess who was generous with her time. She shared the “best” spots for cherry blossom viewing (we would never have found them on our own) and on the last morning the rare (for April) clear view of mountains surrounding the area. And thanks to her and her husband I got to experience some wonderful Japanese food, gain some insights into the Japanese culture, experience my first time at an onsen and participate in a Zen meditation session.
Judy, Ottawa Canada