Embark on a spiritual journey to Japan
Study some of these sublime traditions to find inner peace and tranquility in spiritual Japan.
Author: Akhil Ak
Although known for advanced technological skills and modernity, Japan is also a country with spiritual traditions. Travel to Japan to explore this heritage, from sacred Shinto shrines to Zen Buddhist gardens, pilgrimage routes to hot spring retreats.
Purifying the soul and finding balance is at the heart of Zazen meditation Courses offered in many Zen temples in Japan. At the Kuonji Temple in Tokyo, a two hour guided meditation session is a great way to begin a spiritual journey of healing and tranquility.
Japan Zen gardens, named karesansui, are quiet physical spaces designed to elevate mental processes to a higher level of consciousness. The simplicity and purity of the arid rocky landscape of these gardens lead to a state of contemplation and calm. Kyoto’s Tenryuji and Ryoanji temples, along with countless others across the country, have zen gardens that offer travelers the opportunity for deep reflection.
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto
Forest bathing or Shinrin-Yoku is the Japanese concept of mixing and immersing yourself in the atmosphere of a forest with all five senses. Guides take visitors for a session that helps them focus on nature and absorb its calming aspects, resulting in a physical slowdown in breathing and heart rate. This experience of silence and mindfulness is known to have a therapeutic effect on physical and mental well-being. Forest bathing is possible all over Japan, from the ancient cedar forests of Yakushima National Park to towering bamboo groves of Sagano bamboo forest in Arashiyama.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
There is a more literal bathing concept at Japan’s mineral-rich hot springs or onsen. However, unlike Western-style spas, Japanese onsen practice is rooted in spirituality and purifying the body and soul. At the traditional inns or ryokans, for example in Hakone and Yudanaka Onsen near Nagano, You can enjoy the healing properties of the water in public onsens or in your own private, steamy outdoor tub.
Outdoor onsen in Japan
For another mystical adventure connected with nature, travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mount Koyasan, the birthplace of Shingon Buddhism. Here, visitors hike mountain trails with breathtaking views, explore historical sites such as the Okunoin cemetery, or witness a ritual Shojingu ceremony. Part of the holistic spiritual experience includes staying in a Shukubo or Buddhist temple lodge. Guests sleep on modest tatami mats and enjoy temple cuisine or shojin ryori, simple, traditional vegetarian Buddhist dishes.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Mount Koyasan
For a more intense and haunting spiritual journey, explore the numerous short and long paths of the Kumano-koda pilgrimage by doing Kii Mountains. The sacred area has both large shrines that combine elements from Buddhist and Shinto religions, as well as small moss-covered oji shrines along the pilgrimage routes. Travelers stay in simple ryokans with onsens, which highlight traditional Japanese dishes made from fresh, local seasonal produce.
Whichever spiritual path you choose during your stay in Japan, an energetic forest hike or a peaceful temple meditation, it will be a time well spent to ponder and pursue a higher place.
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Find peace in Japan