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Japan – Improve Your Body and Mind While You Escape Christmas!

Japan for me has always had a certain air of elegance, mystery and ancient sophistication. It is rich in history that was put down in written word long before the history of the West ever was. It is a country that attracted more than 24 million people last year. Now, I have found an even better reason to visit, especially at this time of year. They don’t celebrate Christmas!

I know, I know, Bah Humbug, but let’s face it, not everyone wants to celebrate Christmas. It is difficult to get away from the Christmas vibe if that is what you want to do, but hopefully, once you have read this article you will agree that Japan is a good option to do just that.

Relax in a Luxury Pod Hotel

If you have never experienced, or worse, heard of Japanese Pod Hotels, well, you have now. At first glance it seems like a bad idea, they are small and compact and seem to offer no luxury at all. At least not what we would call luxury.

Japan is famous for being economical, efficient and minimalistic and these pod hotels are just that. The new ‘breed’ of Pod hotels in Japan offer spa treatments, luxury toiletries and high-tech gadgets such as humidifiers and tablets.

First Cabin models their capsules on first-class plane cabins. They have quality linen and extras like curling tongs for women and all in pods that are surprisingly roomy. 9h or ninehours, feature a stylish pod for resting and showering along with features like ambient controls. The GrandPark Inn Kitasenju in Tokyo even offers a Suntory whiskey-approved bar.

You Can Bathe in a Forest

Something else Japan is famous for and has completed countless studies on, their approach to health and wellness. Their medicines and approaches, like most East Asian countries, goes back thousands of years.

One of these approaches is Shinrin-yoku. The practice involves spending time appreciating a forest for health reasons. According to the Japanese, it boosts the immune system, enhances mental wellness, reduces stress hormones and keeps the brain healthy. There are even reports that claim it helps diabetes sufferers by lowering blood glucose levels.

So the simple answer is, get out there, take a stroll in the forest, sit, meditate and appreciate the clean crisp forest air and inhale those tree aromas to help your body repair itself.

Zen Gardens Can Bring You Peace

A lot of, if not most, gardens in Japan have an element of Zen. All over Japan, you will find Zen gardens with people meticulously raking patterns into beds of stone. There are raked sections which symbolise water and they usually have smooth rocks set in specific places. The patterns generally have meaning and are designed in many different ways.

The space in between the shapes are just as important as the shapes themselves. This is something you can think about while you sit and contemplate the meaning of the shapes and spaces. Watching someone rake those lines and shapes over and over again is sure to lower your blood pressure too. The best Zen garden example is at the Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto.

Live Like a Monk for a Day or Two

One of the best experiences for your mind, in my opinion, is the chance to experience the hilltop life of a Shingon Buddhist. Koyasan, or Mount Koya, is home to more than one hundred temples. Hidden among the cedar forests you can spend the night and see what life is like dedicated to this lifestyle and belief.

You will eat a monks dinner, wake up at the crack of dawn for a communal meditation session, eat breakfast and all while kneeling among chimes and flickering candles. One thing you should not miss is the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon movement.

The statue of Kobo Daishi is found at the end of a trail through a moss-covered forest. The entire trail is lit by hundreds of lamps giving it an unforgettable atmosphere that will leave a long lasting impression on the soul.

Last but not least, be Enlightened by Lunch

If you do not find the chance to live a day like a monk, then you can find the chance to eat a Buddhist style lunch. . is a Buddhists way of cooking that involves steaming vegetables, soybeans and nuts.

Sit yourself down on a tatami mat and be presented with numerous tiny dishes of mouthwatering meals you can steam all presented on a tray. The process of preparing this hand-prepared food is considered to be a step towards further enlightenment. One thing is for sure, you mouth will be enlightened by this incredible vegetarian cuisine.

One of the best reported places to experience this kind of lunch properly is in Kyoto. There are numerous specialist vegetarian restaurants, all of which, prepare and present this lunch to you in their own beautiful and unique way.

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