First things first: anyone who thinks that a temple on the edge of a forest will be a quiet place to practice might be as familiar as I am with living on the edge of a forest, and that is not very familiar at all. And second: Horakuan is, indeed, a place of stillness and quiet in the midst of cacophonies of sound. This is a fine place to begin.
When we arrived at Horakuan, we found a beautiful temple in a secluded and beautiful forest on the hills of Suzaka and just minutes away from other residences. Horakuan combines for me the best of different worlds; nature, beauty, inspiration (temple), isolation and silence, access to culture (museums), relaxation (hot springs), small town and hence safety.
Many surprises awaited us at Horakuan! The remoteness combined with being a short drive from the town of Suzaka. The utter stillness, peace and beauty. And most of all, Dorothee’s generous offering of this as our place to stay.
I stayed at Horakuan for nearly 3 weeks and it was one of the best experiences of my lifetime. Far away from crowded and big cities, Suzaka will offer you a great insight about Japanese daily life and culture.
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!
We spent 12 days at Horakuan in October and we truly enjoyed our time there. Horakuan is a magical place near the Japanese Alps, surrounded by beautiful tall trees that turn to all shades of orange, yellow and red during autumn.
A long and winding road, literally and figuratively, brought us to Horakuan during a hot summer. As a couple, we both knew we wanted to experience the peace that is rural Japan and nurture our burgeoning interest in Zen.
To experience local life and get some experiences beside the tourist tracks is one of the things I enjoy most about traveling during my 365 days of summer. I was very happy when I found a nice place in Suzaka, close to the former Olympic city of Nagano.