One day in January, in a quiet Zen temple on a hill in Nagoya's Tenpaku Ward, a priest offered a Nigerian visitor okaki (rice crackers).

"Can you eat (this)?" the chief priest of Tokurinji temple asked him in English.

The man, who came to Japan to seek asylum, is one of many people — usually students or refugees — that 75-year-old Shucho Takaoka has taken in at his temple over the past three decades.