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Clean sheets, cleansed soul

Who says you have to stay in a hotel? New rules in Japan are opening up temples and other exotic lodgings as tourism numbers grow.

A group of Thai colleagues settle into their room at Takayama Zenko-ji. (Photo by Keiichiro Asahara)

TOKYO Tourists to Japan will soon have a much wider selection of places to stay, as a law deregulating vacation rentals takes effect on June 15, opening up lodging options that go way beyond hotels.

An example of what's to come can be found in Takayama, in mountainous Gifu Prefecture. There, a group of Thai coworkers recently explored their room, and were rewarded with a magnificent winter view -- behind a sliding screen was the snow-shrouded garden of the Takayama Zenko-ji Buddhist temple.

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