Japan's rural towns have mainly been facing the same big challenge for the past decade: A migration to urban centers for work has left them with declining populations, which leads to a further decrease in job opportunities that makes them less attractive places to live if you're young and starting a family.

In order to combat this vicious cycle, a town needs a secret weapon of sorts. In Eiheiji-cho, Fukui Prefecture, it's no secret that their weapon is Daihonzan Eiheiji, one of the two major temples in the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism. The temple was founded in the 13th century by the priest Eihei Dogen (1200-53), who was instrumental in bringing Zen and its practices to Japan.

The temple has therefore attracted a number of visitors from around the world who stay there as Zen trainees from anywhere between one night and a couple of months. Occasionally, however, one of these guests decides to stay.