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Turn inward to find serenity and wisdom through your own spiritual pilgrimage to old Japan with this 9-day yoga and meditation retreat. Slow your pace deep in the mountains and in heritage sites in Saitama and Kyoto through connecting with Japan's ancient earth, healing energies of natural hot spring baths, rejuvenating mind and body, daily yoga practice, seated and wilderness walking meditations, sutras, energy healings, and mind empowerment sessions.
During this retreat, you will stay at Taiyoji Temple for 4 nights starting from October 1st to October 5th. The rest of the nights will be spent at Shunkoinji Temple.
A temple stay, (Shukubo), will bring you close to Japan and its culture. The tranquility and beautiful scenery of Taiyoji (Temple in the Sky), together with the spiritual environment, will create an unforgettable experience. The isolated temple is perched on a mountainside high above a river valley, providing an astounding view of the Mitsumine (‘three peaks’) mountains of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park.
With no houses or buildings nearby, Taiyoji Temple has always offered temple lodgings, initially to pilgrims seeking solitude and inner peace. Even today there is no TV or cell / mobile phone reception. Instead, you will hear the birds and the sound of the clear streams. Looking up from the outside bath, you will enjoy nature's blessings and a wonderful starry sky.
In this place, far removed from the 21st century yet conveniently close to Tokyo, you can let go of worldly affairs. 'Learn from nature, let nature teach you' is the concept that has been taught in Zen for over 700 years and that they continue to teach at Taiyoji.
In the summer of 2010, Japan's national broadcaster NHK paid a visit and dedicated a TV program to a Taiyoji temple stay as part of a series on much-valued temples. It has also been ranked number 1 in the Nikkei Shinbun’s Shukubo ranking.
Shunkōinji Temple (Temple of the Ray of Spring Ray) is a sub-temple in the Myōshinji temple complex (near Ryoanji Temple, the Golden Pavilion, and Ninaji Temple) in Kyoto, Japan. The temple was established in 1590 by Yoshiharu Horio, who was a feudal lord, or daimyō, of Matsue in present-day Shimane Prefecture.
Because the temple is located in the center of the biggest temple complex in Kyoto, you can enjoy peace and silence, even though you are still inside of Kyoto City. This temple houses important historical objects that reflect the multifaceted religious and artistic atmosphere in Japan from the sixteenth century onward.
Shunkōin not only offers visitors an opportunity to learn about Rinzai Zen Buddhism, but also to see valuable objects representative of important epochs in Japanese history.
The temple is also located near Ryōanji Temple, which is famous for its Zen rock garden, and Ninnaji Temple. Both temples are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 10 minutes away from Shunkoin Temple on foot.
On the western outskirts of Kyoto, not far from the mountains ringing the ancient capital, lies a gently rising plain blessed with fresh air and clear water. From ancient times the court nobility kept villas there surrounded by large landscape gardens, bright with flowering plants throughout the four seasons. In time the area came to be known as Hanazono, meaning “flower garden.”
The ninety-fifth emperor of Japan loved this area and built his imperial villa there. Following his abdication in 1318 he took the name Hanazono and dedicated himself to the practice of Zen meditation under Zen master Shūhō Myōchō and Shūhō’s disciple Kanzan Egen. In 1337, the emperor converted his villa into a Zen temple.
This is the origin of Myōshin-ji (Temple of the Enlightened Mind), which over the centuries has grown to become the headquarters of the Myōshin-ji branch of the Rinzai Zen school. As with all Zen temples, Myōshin-ji has a “mountain name” (sangō), harking back to the time in China when most Zen temples were located in the mountains; Myōshin-ji’s mountain name is Shōbōzan (Mountain of the True Dharma). Zen Master Kanzan Egen served as Myōshin-ji’s founding priest and the cloistered emperor Hanazono as its founding patron.
Myōshin-ji presently has forty-six subtemples (tatchū) in its main temple complex and more than three thousand four hundred affiliated temples throughout Japan and the rest of the world. Approximately seven thousand monks are associated with the Myōshin-ji branch of Rinzai Zen.
Meet in Tokyo airport and travel deep in the mountains in Saitama to a 600-year old Buddhist temple where you can experience Sutra chanting and copying (calligraphy), star gazing, and group smudging energy clearing. You will also enjoy an evening meal prepared by the resident Buddhist monk.
You will greet the morning with Sutra chanting and Zazen meditation, yoga, and a healthy breakfast. Then you will journey outside with a gentle wilderness walking meditation followed by a 1-hour gentle trek if you choose, followed by some free time or a private healing or life coaching session and lunch.
Later in the day, you can unwind with yoga practice, meditation, Sutra chanting, copying, star gazing or Buddhist teachings, and a delicious evening meal. You may simply feel like unwinding in the hot open air bath.
You can begin the day with chanting, meditation, yoga practice, and breakfast followed by a group mind empowerment session. In the afternoon, there will be plenty of opportunity for free time for hiking, quiet reflection, engaging with the group or retreat leaders or private healing, and life coaching.
In the evening, you can participate in Sutra chanting, copying and yoga practice, followed by an evening meal and star gazing, Buddhist teachings or meditation.
You can begin the day with chanting, meditation, yoga practice, and breakfast followed by a group mind empowerment session. You may choose to enjoy a hot open air bath before or after yoga practice.
In the afternoon, there will be plenty of opportunity for free time for hiking, quiet reflection, engaging with the group or retreat leaders or private healing and life coaching.
In the evening, you can participate in Sutra chanting, copying, and yoga practice, followed by an evening meal and star gazing or mediation.
As this will be your last night deep in the mountains, the group may decide to have another smudging energy clearing outdoors.
Your last morning in the mountains in this historical temple and location will be embraced with yoga and Zazen meditation practice, followed by breakfast and teachings from the Buddhist monk.
You will enjoy a comfortable and exciting ride on a bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, where you will check into Shunkoin temple within the headquarters of the Rinzai-Zen Buddhist school, on the western outskirts of Kyoto, not far from the mountains ringing the ancient capital.
You can enjoy free time to explore the vast temple grounds, taste local cuisine, and later in the day, unwind with yoga practice and meditation.
You can greet the morning with yoga practice, free time, and breakfast. After breakfast, you can enjoy morning Zazen meditation followed by a tour of the Myoshin-ji grounds. The 3rd mind empowerment session will be held mid-morning to the early afternoon, leaving you with free time until our even yoga session, meal, and meditation practice.
You can greet the morning with yoga practice and breakfast followed by Zen meditation. After your morning practice, you will go on a day trip to Kameoka where you can experience traditional onsen and lunch at Keburi-Kawa, Yunohana Onsen. After the Onsen, you may like to visit the temples, castle, palace, or gardens in the local area and enjoy an evening meal in Kameoka. You can unwind when you return to the temple grounds with mediation and free time.
Your morning ritual with yoga practice and breakfast followed by Zen meditation is continued today. After your morning ritual, you will head out for a day trip to Arashiyama by old, open-air train through the mountains to a quiet town to journey through Arashiyama bamboo grove and have some free time, or the group may decide to practice some Asanas or meditate in the area before enjoying an evening meal and returning via traditional wooden boat along the Hozu-gawa river. After returning to the temple grounds you will enjoy your last evening in the temple grounds with mediation and some free time for reflection or group discussion.
Your last morning in this stunning temple retreat is met with a deep yoga practice. After some free time and nourishing breakfast, you will have your last group empowerment reflection session and prepare to check out and head home with all your practice, learnings, and experiences embedded in your mind, body, and soul.
The retreat leaders Heather and Julie will assist you with your transfer to Osaka airport to head home or with your itinerary if you wish to continue to explore Japan at your leisure.
Note: All activities are optional and suitable for all levels, beginners to advanced, with no experience in any activity necessary to gain optimum result from retreat.
This retreat will take place in Kyoto and Saitama, Japan. Embrace the traditional cuisine, culture, knowledge, and experience of a resident monk in Saitama and enhance your spiritual development while embracing your human self and connection with the pristine natural environment.
You can also enjoy the ease and comfort of a bullet train to Kyoto to further immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of old Japan whilst deepening your own spiritual experiences through daily yoga and meditation practice and your own inner journey.
You may like to contact The Joyful Buddhas to discuss greeting and guide to the first location and guidance for departure after the second location included in the retreat.
Click to see more vegetarian-friendly Meditation Retreats
Most meals are included in the retreat and the meals that are prepared in the Buddhist temple (Shojin Ryori) are traditionally vegetarian or vegan. Some days you will have the opportunity to purchase and experience a variety of Japanese or other cuisines.
Please arrive at Narita International Airport (NRT). If you are arriving from a domestic or other terminal such as Haneda Airport (HND), please contact The Joyful Buddhas to assist you in reaching Taiyoji Temple in time with the group.
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