Visiting Kyoto's temples gives you a taste of the city's history, but staying in one is a more intimate way of experiencing the past. The intricate woodwork, manicured stone pathways, and enigmatic gardens that characterize Shunko-in are revealed in fascinating tours and introductory Zen meditation sessions with the American-educated vice-abbot Kawakami-san. He gives you a chance to examine gorgeous golden sliding-door paintings by Eigaku Kano and other artifacts from the temple's 500-year history. Rooms are comfortable but appropriately ascetic, if also a bit disappointingly Western. All but two share bathrooms. Shunko-in is a sub-temple of Myoshin-ji, a sprawling temple complex in western Kyoto. Access is via JR Sagano Line to Hanazono Station, or via Bus 26 or 10 to Myoshin-ji Kitamon-mae.