A New Choice for Travelers: Stay at a Temple with “Terahaku” Service
When Japan’s new “Minpaku Law” (more formally the Private Lodging Business Law) came into effect in June, short-term rentals came into the spotlight. The law was designed to strengthen the system and prevent illegal renting, but it was also unexpectedly strict, and registrations under it have been lower than predicted. This speaks to the difficulty of the problem.
On the other hand, new services have arisen making use of the law. One of these is the Terahaku service, a unique site that connects travelers with temples and shrines offering accommodation across Japan. You can search and even make reservations right from your smartphone. The special experience of spending the night at a temple has never been easier.
Temples in Japan have long had facilities known as shukubo for hosting pilgrims and other visitors. The earliest shukubo date back to the Heian period (794–1185), so “staying at a temple” is a Japanese tradition with a surprisingly lengthy pedigree.
The new Minpaku Law makes it possible for temples to host guests using their existing facilities. This also gives travelers the choice to try accommodation and practice experiences at temples, broadening the possibilities for enjoyment as they travel.
Terahaku has announced links to other companies, including online reservation site Booking.com and home sharing site AirBnB. Eventually it plans to offer services to visitors coming from overseas as well.
The famous Miidera temple (Nagarasan Onjoji), located by Lake Biwa in Shiga prefecture, has already announced its participation in the Terahaku service. A hundred temples across Japan were listed on launch, and the Terahaku service aims to expand to 1,000 listings within three years.
Staying at a temple, coming into contact with Buddhist culture and history, speaking with monks, and feeling the seasons change for yourself is an experience you simply cannot have at a regular hotel or ryokan. Whether you have a longstanding interest in Buddhism or temples or simply would like to try a new kind of traveling, why not give Terahaku a try?
◆ Terahaku: The Nationwide Temple and Shrine Accommodation and Experience Search and Reservation System
Operator: Waku (9F, Axis Minamimori-machi Building, 1-11-13 Higashitenma, Kita-ku, Osaka)