The Shinshoji Zen Museum and Gardens is a sprawling campus of traditional Japanese structures like tea houses, hot baths and museums all connected by tranquil and beautiful Zen gardens. In other words, it’s your one-stop-shop for Zen meals, Zen baths, Zen art and everything else you need to nurture your body and soul.
Located in Hiroshima, and completed just 3 months ago in September of 2016, the museums and gardens elegantly merge traditional and contemporary design.
The vast campus is dotted with interesting architecture like a 17th century hall that was relocated from Shiga prefecture, a teahouse originally designed by tea master Sen no Rikyu and and newly built art pavilion by contemporary artist Kohei Nawa and his architecture studio Sandwich.
Open to the outdoors, Nawa’s Kohtei pavilion acts as a museum dedicated to light. The ship-shaped building is covered entirely with wooden shingles that subtly reflect glittering lights and is Nawa’s interpretation of the teachings of Zen.
A must-see at the museum is one of Japan’s largest collections of Zen paintings and calligraphies by Zen master Hakuin Ekaku. The collection features some of Hakuin’s most well-known pieces like “Daruma,” and “One-Eyed Daruma,” which formed the basis of many of his teachings.
Food & Rest
In Zen, all daily-life activities, including having meals and bathing, are regarded as an opportunity to practice Buddhism. At Gokando you can enjoy a meal of Shinshoji udon noodles; at Shuroken, a tea ceremony room that follows the Omotesenke school, tea with sweets; at Gakui, the 17th century hall, a café serving tea, sweets and yudofu. There’s even a bathhouse where, for an additional fee of 800 yen, visitors can cleanse themselves both physically and spiritually.
From Hiroshima Airport Shinshoji Zen Museum & Gardens is about a 50 min drive. But it’s closer from Fukuyama Station, where you can grab a taxi or a bus that will get you there faster. General Admission is 1200 yen. Check out their website for more information about how to get there and definitely add it to your agenda if you plan to be anywhere nearby. It looks beautiful anytime of the year.