Local, seasonal food might be a relatively new trend in American cooking, but in Japan it’s part of a Buddhist tradition that dates back centuries. Japanese monks are now teaching a new generation of chefs to use seasonal ingredients – and zen principles – to elevate their cooking. Abigail Leonard is a Tokyo-based reporter/producer who covers Japanese culture and politics. She produced a wonderful field report about Buddhist shojin ryori ("devotion cuisine"). Listen to the story via the audio player above. Leonard also shared these related links for travelers wishing to seek out shojin ryori restaurants and cooking classes in Japan.

(** featured in story)

  • Sougo**: high-end, shojin ryori restaurant in Roppongi, Tokyo. Chef Daisuke Nomura also holds cooking classes there.

  • Ryokusenji Temple**: Monk Kakuho Aoe is chief priest and holds “dining in the dark” events that visitors can attend.

  • Akasaka Teran**: cooking school at Jokokuji Temple with classes taught by a Buddhist priest.

  • Takao-san Temple: restaurant inside Takao-san temple

  • Koya-san Temple: restaurant inside Koya-san Temple.

  • Tera Cafe: shojin-ryori cafe run by nuns.

  • Komaki Shokudo: casual shojin ryori restaurant that also organizes cooking classes


  • Torin-in Temple: serves shojin ryori cuisine to visitors and offers cooking classes. The chief priest, Genbo Nishikawa, has written several shojin rioir cookbooks. 

  • Shigetsu: a shojin ryori restaurant inside Tenryu-ji Temple



    Chef Daisuke Nomura Chef Daisuke Nomura in the kitchen at Sougo restaurant.



    Monk Kakuho Aoe cooking in his temple kitchen.