‘Even Monks Get Impatient’: Buddhist Priest Sorry For Anger At Tourist Reviews
A Buddhist priest whose grumpy responses to negative hotel reviews went viral this week has taken a swipe at tourists who fail to do their homework before visiting Japanese temples.
The Sekishoin Shukubo guesthouse offers tourists the chance to stay in an ancient Buddhist temple in Mount Kōya, a World Heritage-listed site south of Osaka. But some customers got more than they bargained for when they left critical comments on booking.com.
After a visitor complained about the “basic and vegetarian” meals and the lack of explanation of the temple’s traditions, the official “property response” pointed out it was a place of training and westerners would not get special treatment, adding: “If you are that interested in a monks life then you should shave your head and be one.”
In another exchange, a customer said there was no heating outside the bedroom and the “strange” meals were “quite unlike any food I’ve ever tasted”, prompting the reply: “Yeah, it’s Japanese monastic cuisine you uneducated fuck.”
Daniel Kimura, 30, an official Shingon priest who was born in the United States but has lived in Japan for about 15 years, owned up to the negative replies.
In an interview with the Guardian, Kimura said he deeply regretted swearing in one of the responses and vowed to “tone down” his comments in future. But he also said he had been frustrated by continually dealing with tourists who post “arrogant responses like they’re some travel pioneer”.
Kimura said the Mount Kōya region – historically a popular destination for religious pilgrims – had seen a big influx of western tourists since its World Heritage listing in 2004.
“Of course, they don’t speak one word of Japanese and they come here expecting everything to be handed to them on a platter, and I’m like, you’ve got to know konnichiwa (hello) and ohayō gozaimasu (good morning) – just a little bit,” Kimura said.
“You get impatient, even for a monk or a priest. I have to work on that.”
Some tourists, he added, “come here expecting some six-star hotel and that’s totally wrong”.
“I try to explain that you can’t expect luxury when you come to a monastic setting and of course it’s going to be kind of barebones, but it’s deliberately like that,” Kimura said.
After a Canadian journalist posted screenshots on Twitter earlier this week, the frosty exchanges have been retweeted more than 15,000 times and liked by 35,000 users. The original responses have since been taken down from booking.com, which is understood to have asked the temple not to insult customers.
Traveller: I have come here for an *authentic traditional* experience
Temple: Ok, here’s your buckwheat pillow, unheated building, futon, monastic food, monks chanting without a chipper English tour guide
Traveller: no, not THAT authentic and traditional
— Melissa Martin (@DoubleEmMartin) July 23, 2018
Yeah but i bet they'll 'gram the shit out of it like they're some kind of travel pioneer
— IrwinWongPhoto (@IrwinWong) July 23, 2018
*furiously deleting all my Koyasan Instagrams* …hehhhh yeah totally
— Melissa Martin (@DoubleEmMartin) July 24, 2018