Setouchi: Taking Japanese Wellness to the Next Level
This year more than ever, wellness and travel will be at the forefront of people’s minds but in Setouchi Japan you can combine the two trends.
Bathe in Japan’s oldest hot springs, Ehime
Ehime prefecture is home to the oldest hot spring spa in Japan, Dogo Onsen. Dogo Onsen Hot Spring, located in Matsuyama, dates back 3,000 years, with Prince Shōtoku (574 – 622) having bathed in the waters and the site today still has a bathing room reserved for the exclusive use of the emperor. The healing nature of these hot springs is the subject of legends, with gods and egrets being cured of injury and illness. Travellers can relax in the baths and following a long soak, can join the many Japanese visitors taking in the ambience of the local streets in yukata robes.
Forest bathing, Hyogo
The people of Shiso City in Hyogo prefecture have always lived in harmony with the surrounding forest, which became home to Hyogo’s first certified Forest Therapy Base in 2016. A two hour drive from Kobe and Osaka, the Therapy Base covers almost 8% of the prefecture and is made up of 90% forest. Visitors can stroll through the beautiful scenery, taking in the scents of a 1,000 year-old wisteria tree, as well as relaxing by waterfalls and ravines.
For more ideas on mindfulness in the land of the rising sun, read Japan travel: Glamping, zip-cords and Samurai.
Enjoy yoga in a temple, Hiroshima
The Shanti Yoga salon offers a wide range of classes, including standard, hot, baby and candle-lit yoga and a vegan café for a healthy post-work out snack. The classes are organised in three different temples around the city hold a weekly yoga class in Peace park on Sunday mornings. Prices from ¥500.
Take time out to reflect at the shrines and gates in Setouchi, Miyajima Island
Perhaps the most iconic shot within the Setouchi region is the floating torii gate of the Itsukushima Shrine (see main photo), casting a beautiful reflection on the water beneath.The name ‘Itsukushima’ literally means ‘island of worship’, and the shrine has long been a place where people have carried out ancient rites, prayers and meditation, with visitors from across Japan travelling to Miyajima Island to worship, meditate and reflect today.
Zen meditation in a Japanese water garden
On the outskirts of Yakage in Okayama Prefecture sits Daitsu-ji Temple. The temple’s crisp white outer walls contain a water garden overflowing with maple trees and a pond containing the vividly colourful koi carp. Here, visitors can experience 40 minutes of zazen, a form of zen meditation, every second Sunday of the month.
For more information about Setouchi, visit: Setouchitrip.com
To read about Setouchi’s festivals, click here.
Mark Bibby Jackson
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