November is the season of “autumn leaves” where verdant foliage turns a spectacular fiery red, which we will experience in abundance in beautiful temple gardens.
Your first destination is the peaceful countryside of the Kunisaki Peninsula on the island of Kyushu. Little developed, Kunisaki is dotted with sleepy hamlets and temples with verdant forests and paddy fields interspersed with craggy ridges and mountains.
Your days will include Jivamukti yoga, Japanese farmhouse cooking and plenty of time to luxuriate in onsen thermal hot springs and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The Japanese art of chado, the timeless and gentle traditional tea ceremony and ikebana flower arranging with a local expert using wild flowers and plants are part of your retreat. We will enjoy an afternoon at Futago-ji, the most important temple in Kunisaki, where we try Zen Buddhist sitting meditation under the friendly guidance of Gojun-san, the young priest of the temple.
On our last day on the island we head out exploring. We visit Makiodo, a treasure house of Buddhist relics and Tashibu-no-sho, a charming village with some of the most picturesque countryside found in Japan. We then walk along ancient pilgrims trails through forests to the spectacular Kumano Magai-butsu, the largest Buddha relief carvings in Japan that date back over 900 years.
Senior Jivamukti teacher Emma Henry will teach daily yoga classes. Morning classes will be 2.5 hours and you’ll experience a strong Jivamukti practice. Afternoon sessions will be workshop style or more restorative. Each Jivamukti class offers a dynamic asana practice that is infused with inspiring teachings derived from the ancient yogic texts.
Classes will include chanting, breath awareness, flowing vinyasa sequences, alignment exploration, hands-on assistance, relaxation and meditation. Modifications and progressions are given so that everyone will find these yoga classes rewarding but this retreat is not suitable for complete beginners. Then it’s time to jump on the Shinkansen bullet train to the city of Kyoto where we stay for 3 nights in Nishijin, the traditional weaving district of Kyoto, near Daitoku-ji temple and Funaoka onsen.
Our weekend includes daily yoga and a guided walking tour to Otagi Nenbutsu-ji, a temple famous for its rows of unique Buddha statues, Saihōji a fairytale like moss temple and the sublime Okochi-Sanso Villa with it’s beautiful gardens. There will be free time to explore the city at your own pace (our hosts provide free bicycles) and we end with a sumptuous meal at Ukishima Garden