2016 Japan Mindfulness Tour - Only a few places remaining

temple dog.jpg

 

This is not a retreat.

This is a guided tour to see some of Japan, while practicing mindfulness in traditional Japanese ways each day.

Why Japan?

Even in the hustle and bustlethat is big city Japan, there is stillness. There is quiet. There are ways to centre, to move through the craziness.

Personally, I find it easy to relax in a yoga or meditation space, in a quiet park, or on a quiet headland overlooking the water. I have trouble relaxing when surrounded by the everyday craziness of work, crowds, traffic, family, deadlines et cetera.

Japan offers quite a few different ways to deal with the craziness from within the storm, rather than by removing oneself from it.

This tour will give you the opportunity to try different mindfulness and stress relieving activities and techniques each day. You may want to try them all. You may not want to try any. You can choose. Some, we will need to book and pay for in advance, so I will give you more information before you choose. If you choose to just relax at any time on the tour, I will make sure you have all the information you need to get yourself back to the hotel if you go for a walk.

Even if you don't think you can make it along this year, please fill in the questionnaire at the end if you would be interested in going in the future. I hope to make this a yearly event. Sometimes for autumn, sometimes for spring.

A traditional roof line with autumn leaves

A traditional roof line with autumn leaves

We are planning on doing one night in a traditional inn with the full spread of food for breakfast and dinner. We will probably need to share rooms to keep the prices reasonable. There will be a hot spring and wonderful sightseeing nearby. We are hoping to do this in a tsunami-affected area to help rebuild the local economies. EDIT: There is no radiation risk in this area. This Forbes article shows the radiation monitor outside city hall in the area I'd like to visit. The other pictures in the gallery show effects of the tsunami on the area.

On other nights, we will usually stay in what are called Business Hotels. You get a small, clean, neat room to yourself with your own bathroom at a reasonable rate. If you would like to twin share, you can, but the room will not be appreciably bigger - there will just be less space for each person. If, like myself, you are sensitive to crowds and bustle then I recommend the room to yourself at night :)

We would also like to offer a night or two in temple accommodation. This will allow the duration of your stay in this accommodation to be quiet and restful, as loud talking is frowned upon. You will have a chance to participate in morning meditation as well as try temple fare for dinner and breakfast. During the day time there will be sightseeing in the surrounding area.

Food

Dinner at a traditional inn

Dinner at a traditional inn

We will always offer a traditional option for meals. When in Kyoto, we will try to get into a traditional vegetarian restaurant serving traditional temple fare, for example.

Traditional indoor cooking fire

Traditional indoor cooking fire

Sometimes, we will have a big lunch, rather than dinner. Many excellent restaurants have excellent lunch specials that can cost 3-4 times the price at dinner. Dinner will then be something simpler/easier/cheaper. These smaller meals, can still be a traditional option as many Japanese 'fast food' options are still traditional, just smaller and of lesser quality (to match the price).

However, IF you are over the food, JUST SAY. I can point you in the direction of more western style meals that are easy to get, reasonably priced and still delicious.

Activities

Temples and shrines are peaceful with a variety of interest points

Temples and shrines are peaceful with a variety of interest points

Each day we will have a yoga or mindfulness option available. There will also be some sightseeing options and free time. I will also prepare a sheet of information for each location so you can find some things to do during your free time.

In general, I will be avoiding the major tourist traps (with a couple of exceptions). But at the same time, we will be staying near them, so you can easily see them in your free time. Language is usually not an issue in these areas (My parents (average age 70) went last year and did very well without the language).

I would like to guide you to some places that you would have more difficulty seeing without understanding the language.

Honda Soufu, our wonderful calligraphy teacher

Honda Soufu, our wonderful calligraphy teacher

Mindfulness activities available:

Definitely possible:
Zazen meditation - I know a lovely little temple with friendly people
Japanese Calligraphy- I know an awesome teacher
Ink drawing - This would be in a town full of traditional buildings with sightseeing on the same day
Tea ceremony - (in a kimono if you like) - this is run in English
Incense ceremony - This would be in Kyoto in English or with translation
Japanese archery - I found some English lessons
Yoga - we can do this in the park or visit a studio
Japanese gardens - so peaceful
Karaoke (in a small room with just us, not a bar like here) - a great laugh and stress reliever :)

Maybe possible:
Making Japanese sweets
Japanese flower arrangement

Japanese archery. A traditional mindfulness activity. Like yoga, the focus is on the process, not the outcome.

Japanese archery. A traditional mindfulness activity. Like yoga, the focus is on the process, not the outcome.

Timing and duration:

  • Late October-early November 2016 for about 2 weeks
    • We can see the autumn leaves
    • It will not be crazy cold (more like a Brisbane winter)
    • Typhoon season will be over
    • Autumn has the best seasonal produce
    • We will be there for the Culture Day festivities on Nov 3rd so we can see lots of traditional activities
    • It is close to a children's celebration day, so we should see 3-, 5-, and 7-year-olds at shines in traditional clothes

In the interests of full disclosure:

  • The coffee is terrible. Starbucks or Tully's with double or triple shot is recommended
  • It is difficult to get vegan and vegetarian options for traditional food (pescetarian is easier).
  • Dairy free is fairly easy
  • Gluten free is a little difficult
  • There will be things at breakfast that you will never want to consider eating for breakfast, if at all (we can get around that, there are always options ;) )
  • You will walk everywhere
  • The rooms are small, but clean and neat
  • The trains are crowded
  • Not all trains will be covered by the Japan Rail Pass, so you will need to spend some extra but not heaps
  • We will need to have a degree of flexibility with the tour due to: weather, train delays (rare but possible) et cetera.

If you are interested, please fill in this online questionnaire so I can see what you would prefer, and so I can see how many people are seriously interested.

Once I have numbers, I can start pricing accommodation and see if I can organise a flight deal, or if it is better for you to book yourselves. Then I will run an information session so we can answer some questions.

So who's keen? :)

A traditionally preserved street

A traditionally preserved street