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High-End Temple Tour Gets Test Run in Wakayama Pref.; Guests Experience Hand-Copying Sutra Texts

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Participants in a test run of a planned tour diligently copy a sutra at Ryusenin temple in Koya, Wakayama Prefecture.

KOYA, Wakayama — Ryusenin temple in the town of Koya, Wakayama Prefecture, was the site of a test run of a planned tour on Tuesday by the town’s tourism association.

The association invited tourism professionals, such as travel company staff and guides, to participate in the tour. It will reflect their feedback when it launches the one-day, small-group tour, which mainly targets tourists from overseas. The tour will go on sale next fiscal year at the earliest.

The program included a lecture by a priest and a session of shakyo, or hand-copying a Buddhist sutra on paper, in a shukubo temple accommodation facility that was reserved for the group that day.

The tourism association planned the tour to offer participants an opportunity to get some distance from their digital gadgets, such as smartphones, and have time to quietly face themselves. The temple tour will be available for to up to three groups per day. The Tourism Agency has adopted the tour as a project it supports.

Seven people participated in Tuesday’s tour, including travel company employees and qualified guide interpreters. They listened to a priest’s lecture on Ryusenin temple’s origin before trying their hands at copying the Hannya Shingyo sutra.

“I think there’s a commercial demand for a tour reserved for a small group of wealthy people from overseas wishing to have a special experience. When this tour goes on sale, I’d like to make a deal to sell it as our product,” said Naoya Aoyagi, 41, of Nippon Travel Agency Co.’s inbound travel sales department, who took part in the tour.