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About Tassajara

Tassajara is nestled in a mountain valley, inland from the Big Sur coast in a remote part of the Ventana Wilderness. Long known as a place of healing, the hot springs of Tassajara were first used by the native Esselen people. Since the 1870’s, generations of settlers and visitors have come seeking renewal and tranquility.

In the mid 1960’s, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi was searching for a location to establish a mountain temple modeled on the remote Zen training monasteries in Japan. He was able to purchase Tassajara through the support of the Zen Center community, friends, and patrons. In 1967, Tassajara was established as the first Zen training monastery outside of Japan, and offers monastic training periods during the fall and winter months.

Each year from May to September, Tassajara opens its gates for the summer guest season. We invite you to come soak in the hot springs, cool off in the creek, meander along the trails, float in the swimming pool, and savor Tassajara’s renowned vegetarian cuisine. Retreats offer a wonderful opportunity to explore the variety of ways that Zen and other complementary practices can inform and enrich your life.

Tassajara is one of three practice communities that comprise the San Francisco Zen Center, which also includes City Center in San Francisco and Green Gulch Farm in Marin. Zen Center’s mission is “to embody, express, and make accessible the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha.” Guest speakers and residents offer public talks and small group discussions about Buddhism several times each week, and summer guests are invited to join the Tassajara community for meditation and chanting every morning and evening.

The Baths and Hot Springs
Tassajara’s hand-crafted Japanese-style bathhouse is clothing-optional, and has separate sides for men and women, with co-ed bathing on the men’s side in the evenings. Each side has a tiled indoor hot plunge, an outdoor plunge, steam room, communal showers, and a private bath. There are decks for sunning and yoga, with steps leading down into the creek.


Zen Meditation and Buddhism
Zen meditation instruction is offered every afternoon, free of charge, and guests are always welcome to join the residents for meditation and chanting every morning and evening. Please wear modest, comfortable clothing, preferably in neutral colors, in the meditation hall. Guest speakers and residents offer talks and discussions about Buddhism several evenings a week.

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photo: Alison Bank


                        photo: Alison Bank

Three vegetarian meals are served daily to our overnight guests. Breakfast and dinner are family style. For lunch, you may choose between eating in the dining room or making a “bag lunch” from a buffet featuring gourmet spreads and fresh-baked bread. Coffee and tea are always available. We offer a restricted diet option, consisting of plain rice, tofu, and vegetables for dinner, and an undressed salad for lunch.

A retreat in the wilds east of Big Sur is a superb way to restore and invigorate yourself while deepening your engagement with the unique place of refuge that is Tassajara. We invite you to join our skilled teachers and the Tassajara community to explore the variety of ways that Zen Buddhist practice as well as other traditions of awakening can inform and enrich your life. In retreat you are free to meet your true self and bring it forward into the world through activities you may already enjoy and some that may be entirely new to you.

Tassajara would not be here without the generosity of our friends and supporters. We invite you to contribute to this beautiful place of refuge by being our guest at Tassajara, by taking part in retreats, and in the following ways:

Become a Member
Membership dues provide essential ongoing support for the care and preservation of Tassajara. Members now receive a 15% discount on all retreats!

Make a Donation
Your generous donation will help to ensure that the practice of Zen will continue to flourish at Tassajara and be available to everyone who visits.

You can donate when you make your reservation, or at Giving & Membership. For more information about supporting Tassajara and San Francisco Zen Center, please contact Scott McDougall, Director of Development, at 415-354-0354 or email.


photo: Shundo David Haye