8 Best Wellness Retreats in Japan

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Writer’s profile

Stefanie Akkerman moved from the Netherlands to Japan in 2013 with her Japanese husband and son. She jumped into the niche of Dutch tour guiding in Tokyo and Kamakura in 2015 and occasionally writes articles about all the great sights and activities Japan has to offer. She loves (Japanese) food, and to work that all off she goes diving, snorkeling, cycling, or hiking.

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The demands of modern life can be overwhelming at times, and setting aside time to take care of your body and soul is important if you want to stay healthy. Japan is famous for its hard working culture, but thankfully there are also many ways to find healing and total relaxation to recuperate from all the accumulated stress. Japan’s strong connection to Zen Buddhism has also brought forth numerous ways to take a break from mental strain, so it’s easy to find many different approaches to mind and body relaxation. If you want to really get away from it all to focus on yourself from a few hours to a few days, we recommend trying one of the following wellness retreats.

1. Zen Wellness SEINEI (Hyogo)

awajishima

Not far from the cosmopolitan city of Kobe is a small island called Awajishima, which is where Zen Wellness SEINEI is located. At this retreat surrounded by green forest, you get to escape daily life in a beautiful minimalist structure that enhances your retreat experience. You can opt for a day package or an overnight stay, and in both cases you get to enjoy delicious vegan cuisine and mindfulness activities such as yoga, meditation and calligraphy. You will surely feel completely refreshed after your stay at this retreat.

Website: Zen Wellness SEINEI

2. Forest Therapy Overnight Retreat (Nagano)

Forest
Forest bathing is said to have a very positive effect on your health

Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, is a tried and tested method to leave your anxieties behind and heal in the midst of nature. The Forest Therapy Overnight Retreat in Nagano is an overnight program for holistic relaxation that takes you to the deep forests of Nagano Prefecture. Shinano Town, where this retreat takes place, has long been a leading destination for forest therapy which has benefits such as lowering blood pressure and boosting the immune system. As a highlight of this program you will get to experience three full hours of forest immersion and will also participate in activities such as breathing exercises, hydrotherapy and harmony therapy. Full relaxation is a given after this forest bathing retreat.

Website: Forest Therapy Overnight Retreat in Nagano on Rakuten Travel Experience

3. Sea Breeze Yoga and Breakfast at Tanesashi (Aomori)

Yoga on lawn
A yoga session on a green lawn is a great way to start your day

What is more calming than practicing yoga on a grassy lawn while taking in the gorgeous view of the ocean as a backdrop? That must definitely have been the thought behind creating the activity known as Sea Breeze Yoga and Breakfast on Tanesashi Natural Lawn. And it’s true: slowly stretching in such wonderful surroundings is for sure one of the best ways to start your day refreshed and full of energy. After the yoga session you will be treated to a scrumptious and satisfying breakfast. This morning activity takes place in Aomori Prefecture near Hachinohe, so it’s perfect for those staying overnight in the area.

Website: Sea breeze yoga and breakfast at Tanesashi Natural Lawn

4. Zen Meditation at Enman-in Temple (Shiga)

663highland, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

East of Kyoto and near the southern edge of Lake Biwa, the Enman-in Temple organizes various activities to introduce Zen Buddhism to foreign and local tourists. You can participate in a short zen meditation session after which you will be introduced to the Japanese tea ceremony and learn how to properly whisk up a delicious cup of matcha tea. They will also introduce you to tosenkyo, a traditional Japanese dart game. The temple’s scenic garden is also worth a visit, and the spring water available to drink here is supposed to be good for your health.

Website: Enman-in Temple

5. Ryokan Yumotokan (Shiga)

イーゴス108, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nestled between Nagoya and Kyoto, Shiga Prefecture is often skipped by tourists as they are keen to explore the more famous highlights of Kyoto and Osaka. This means that you can have a quiet local experience here that will properly be very different from what you will experience in more touristy areas. So why not book a relaxing onsen hotel in Shiga to rest and recuperate between your visits to Tokyo and Kyoto? A stay at Yumotokan will likely be a highlight of your trip as you get to taste some of the best food Japanese cuisine has to offer with a kaiseki meal and soak in an open-air hot spring on the top floor with views of Lake Biwa afterwards.

Book here: Yumotokan

6. Haimurubushi (Okinawa)

Starting or ending your Japan vacation in Okinawa will make sure to add a tropical touch to your holiday. Famous for its white sandy beaches, azure-blue oceans and abundant marine life, this island-only prefecture is a true paradise on earth. Kohama is a tiny island wedged between Iriomote and Ishigaki where people come for one reason only: to relax. Haimurubushi is the best hotel here to make the most of your stay with its comfortable rooms, romantic outdoor seating and incredible views. To complete your relaxation regimen you can participate in morning yoga sessions and book some me-time at the gorgeous spa.

Book here: Haimurubushi

7. Shojin Ryori at Mount Takao (Tokyo)

shojin ryori takaosan
The shojin ryori meals at Mount Takao are made with locally sourced ingredients

Mount Takao is very popular since it’s easy to reach from central Tokyo for those who want to go on a hike surrounded by nature. Only 599 meters tall, Mount Takao is suitable for almost all fitness levels, and there are many things to see and do along the way. If you are looking for an extra healthy day at Mount Takao, why not try some shojin ryori. At the head temple, Yakuo-in, you can enjoy a varied meal with fresh seasonal ingredients that are locally sourced. Eating here during your hike will be the perfect complement to your active day out in nature. 

Website: Mount Takao Shojin Ryori

8. Staying at a Shukubo

morning ritual shukubo
Witness a fascinating morning ritual during your shukubo stay

You may have heard about temple stays (shukubo) before, an experience where you not only get to spend the night in historical temple lodgings but also can get involved in various kinds of temple activities. Get immersed in the lifestyle of Buddhist monks by participating in zazen meditation, writing Buddhist sutras and witnessing the morning ceremony. A vegetarian shojin ryori meal is also part of the experience. Perhaps the most famous temple stays in Japan are those at Koyasan, but it is also possible to stay at shukubo accommodation in other areas such as Tokyo or Yamanashi Prefecture.

Japan Wonder Travel Tours 

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help you organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are visiting, our knowledgeable and friendly English speaking guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need some help! 

Tokyo Fish Market Tour @Tsukiji – Enjoy Local Food and Drink
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo and try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake with one of our friendly and knowledgeable English speaking guides! 

tsukiji tour

Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

Kyoto Private Full Day Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see the highlights of Kyoto in just one day and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and Japan as a whole.

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