Business

Temple in Tokyo enters hospitality business to offset decline in devotee families

JIJI

A temple in Tokyo has opened a lodging facility as part of efforts to survive a drop in member families caused partly by Japan’s graying and shrinking population.

Shodenji temple in Minato Ward opened a hostel big enough for 12 guests after receiving a proposal from startup ShareWing Inc., which helps temples manage accommodations.

Managed by the company, the hostel, which is open to both Japanese and foreign tourists, comes with a kitchen, bath and restroom.

Guests can make reservations online and sign up for extra activities, such as making Buddhist amulets. The events are planned with students at Toyo Gakuen University in Bunkyo Ward.

The hostel is unmanned but visitors can contact ShareWing representatives through video calls and other methods around the clock.

Shodenji, which has around 100 families as devotees, was established in 1602.

But the land price bubble in the late 1980s prompted many of the families to move to the suburbs. Over the past five years, some have asked for their tombs at the temple to be closed, saying they are difficult to visit or lack family successors to care for them.

“We are finding it difficult to maintain our temple in the future based on affiliations with devotee families alone,” Kanko Tamura, 42, a priest at Shodenji, said. “The hostel is a good idea for leaving the temple for the next generation.”

Reservations can be made at: oterastay.com/shodenji/

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