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.
As volunteers, we helped to paint the Ryuyukutsu (“The cave where the dragon plays”), we also spent some time gardening and, for the rainy days (not many, by the way), we gave Dorothee a hand with her website. While working and spending time at Horakuan, we felt part of something meaningful, built with effort and care.
From Horakuan, we explored the beautiful surroundings and visited places we would not have normally encountered had we been travelling as tourists and not volunteers. We also experienced Japanese traditions and customs, such as the tea ceremony, and going to the onsen. Particularly interesting for us was learning more about zazen and taking part in the practice at Horakuan.
We were treated to tasty local fruits, such as wine grapes and “new art” apples (the best ones we’ve ever eaten). And, of course, we very much enjoyed the delicious meals we were treated to every day!
The time at Horakuan was very enriching for us, and we feel privileged to have had the chance to experience Japanese life from the perspective of a very warm and welcoming family of Zen priests. We became part of the family from our very first day and this made our experience unforgettable.
We feel very lucky for our “golden October” (great weather and beautiful koyo) we enjoyed at Horakuan and we are deeply grateful for the affectionate treatment we were given! We really hope to be back soon!