Sunday, 19 May 2013

Monk lunch

Yesterday we went for a rather special lunch out in the country. It was a beautiful day and our friend Tatsuya had arranged for a group of us to go out to a Buddhist temple called Takedera in Saitama, to sample shojin ryouri or monk lunch as I call it! It is a strict vegetarian menu prepared by Buddhist monks who are not allowed to eat meat due to religious beliefs. The temple is only open to visitors in spring and autumn, where seasonal vegetables are prepared and served on utensils made of bamboo.

I have to say, I was not sure what to expect, but it was a really special day! The walk up to the temple is beautiful and surrounded by trees and streams. As you get closer, you wind your way through a bamboo forest, before arriving in a little haven of serenity. We ate our lunch sitting on tatami mats in a room overlooking the grounds and a wonderful old Buddhist priest talked us through each dish, which was prepared using plants, leaves and vegetables found locally.

The walk up to the temple through a bamboo forest.

The grounds of the temple were stunning.

We sat at a long table and the priest explained each dish to us in Japanese.

Each table setting had an amazing array of food and untensils.

Leaf tempura, including dandelion leaves and blossom leaves!

Sake was served in a bamboo spout and then rested against a bamboo trunk in the centre of the table.

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