Stay in the historic heart of Kyoto, visit temples, enjoy cultural activities, tastings, yoga in a temple, and a Japanese spa day, all with the addition of workshops designed to help you find your own personal rituals.
Not only will we take advantage of the amenities and beauty of our hotel and the neighbouring temple for the week, but this retreat will also be full of culturally-rich experiences that will give you a full taste of the offerings of Japan. By being located in Kyoto, we get the balance of the city amenities, but also really get to sense the calm and spiritual side of Kyoto and the countryside.
You will feel as if they’ve stepped through a Japanese painting – with bonsai trees, wooden pagodas, and rock gardens (and we might still be able to see some cherry blossoms before the season ends). We’ll take a tour outside the city to the famous “Golden Pavilion” Kinkakuji and walk the way of the “Thousand Torii Gates” at the Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Our days in the centre will include a visit to the famous market, participation in a traditional tea ceremony, temple visits, a special tea-focused activity with a local artisan….learning more about this special elixir, an evening walk through the Gion district where we’ll keep our eyes open for passing Geisha, and even a spa day at Kyoto’s premier luxury spa – complete with treatments and relaxation time fit for a Zen master.
This retreat is led by Sarah Scarborough of Tea Huntress. Sarah has devoted the last twenty years of her life to discovering the culture and agriculture of tea and sourcing the finest varieties.
You will leave with an understanding of tea as a plant, a lifestyle and a divine beverage as well as a personal tea ritual, a hand-blended tea and a daily practice to turn the mundane into meditation and tap into the bliss of the present moment.
Daily yoga class will be offered in a way to relax, stimulate, and help you grow in your own personal practice. Classes are open to all levels, beginner to practiced, and can range from more restorative yin on some days and a flow on others.
The ceremony of tea will guide the flow of each day’s activities, as well as a daily yoga class with flow and/or yin. Yin yoga, like tea ceremony, facilitates deep emotional release and heart opening and so accentuates our exploration of mindfulness, connection and slow, soulful living!
Ritual workshops and meditation through tea ceremony will be explored as another daily part of the retreat. Our classes during our time in Japan will take place in a private next-door temple.
We’ll enjoy the serene experience of a Japanese garden just in front of us, while we practice in the room of wood, paper, and tatami mats, where monks still meditate today. One day we will be led through a meditation by a monk as the start to our yoga class. This is a very special and unique experience, one of which many tourists will never have been able to participate.
Healthful, vegetarian food is part of the retreat experience, including breakfast and dinner daily, and select lunches, either hosted at the hotels or out and about in town. Some meals will have an option for seafood as we’re in the land of some of the freshest fish on the planet.
Ingredients are local and seasonal, and our meals will be inspired by the Japanese traditions. We’ll enjoy a traditional coursed “kaiseki” menu, a sushi dinner, a ‘yufodu’ lunch, as well as some modern selections at newer restaurants, a tea-ceremony, and even a sake-tasting!
Opened in 2017, the Celestine Kyoto Gion is unmistakably a contemporary luxury hotel, and while the name may not be well known outside of Japan, it’s the flagship product of an experienced hospitality group; the Celestine hotels, here and in Tokyo, are on par with the luxury hotels operated by the big international groups.
What sets this particular Celestine apart is the way it seamlessly integrates the look and feel of modern luxury hospitality with the tranquility and ease of ryokan life. The setting is urban, but only just, with the Kamo river on one side and Mount Higashi on the other, and with several historic and cultural sites within walking distance.
The soaring stone-clad double-height lobby, with its floor-to-ceiling windows and curvaceous modern furniture, sets an impressively stylish tone. The rooms, meanwhile, split the difference between modern luxury and tatami tradition — you’re instructed to remove your shoes at the threshold, in case you’re not already in the habit.
And the restaurant, while not strictly a ryokan-style kaiseki, is a piece of history all the same; housed in its own separate classically-styled building is the new iteration of Yasaka Endo, a Kyoto institution for over a hundred years.
Prices are in US Dollars
Inclusive Retreat Price = $5,980 (shared room*), +$990 (single room)