I just completed two magical weeks in Japan for two retreats: the first was a Samurai retreat in Tsushima Island, near Fukuoka, conducted by my Bushido sensei Zen Takai, and the second was a Reiki retreat that I organized to visit Mount Kurama, the birthplace of Reiki, located near Kyoto.
It was my second time in Japan; the first being over ten years ago in kind of sketchy circumstances (I went to visit an ex-boyfriend and we basically parted ways shortly after my trip). During my first visit, since my main purpose was to save a relationship I felt was slipping away, my focus was more on my ex and less on Japan, sadly. I did get to visit Tokyo and we stayed at an unforgettable ryokan (traditional inn) near Mount Fuji with beautiful gardens and onsen (hot spring baths). In spite of the drama, it was a memorable first visit. At the time, I had not started my Nihongo studies (my ex was French but his Japanese was excellent), nor my Bushido (Samurai Path) or Reiki (energy healing). As a result, this trip felt like a first time of sorts.
My sensei met me at the airport in Fukuoka with his wife and the other three participants, and the next morning we took a small plane to the island of Tsushima, which sensei lovingly calls Samurai island, because of its deep relationship to Samurai history and culture. On the first day of training, he took us to an abandoned shrine with a gigantic tree with mystical properties. We practiced in the center of a grid formed by three powerful trees. Each day we trained and meditated in a different location, one more stunning than the next.
At the end of the retreat I felt like a different person. The energy of the island had transformed me in indescribable ways. I was ready to lead the Reiki retreat the following week.
Parting ways with the team was very sad, because training together in sometimes challenging conditions really bonded us together. And yet I was excited to discover Kyoto and welcome the Reiki retreat participants. Kyoto is as lovely as I expected, and even more. Its charm swallowed me up from the first day, and aside from the exhilarating pilgrimage to Kurama Yama, the city – and my friends – really spoiled me and made me appreciate its beauty very deeply.
The visit to Kurama Yama was a little challenging and emotional – the climb was quite tiring for my participants after their international travels, though after my Samurai training I was feeling very strong indeed. The big surprise upon arriving at Osugi Gonshen, the site where Usui Sensei downloaded the system of Reiki after twenty-one days of meditation, was that a giant tree had fallen on the shrine commemorating the exact location. I had visited the site two days prior to taking the Reiki participants, and was thus prepared. I decided not to inform them of what had happened, and instead it became a vivid moment of letting go and surrender for all of us there. Nature had taken over – for me that was the essence of Shinto, at the core of Reiki.
The following days were spent practicing Reiki and seeing the sights. Kyoto is full of beautiful temples and shrines. My preference was for the less touristic ones, and on my last day I discovered one just across from where I was staying at Funaoka, in the northern part of the city.
Aside from the two retreats, I was able to meet a friend from Peru for tea and a chat about how magical and synchronicitous everything was – and I also had my first tea ceremony in kimono in a traditional house in the old part of town with one of my Bushido brothers who met me there.
When I look back on my round the world trip last year, meeting sensei for the first time and training with him face to face, I didn’t think it could get any better. And yet, the Universe constantly surprises me, nudging me to dream bigger and wider, when sometimes I limit myself with what is possible for me. With this trip, I can hear Spirit telling me: “See how beautiful life can be. Why are you limiting yourself?”
As I write this on the plane back to the Philippines, I can’t help but wonder, in the words of a dear friend, how can it get any better than this? Arigato, arigato, arigato.
Kazane and Zen Takai sensei at Tsushima island by @cristomillar
Osugi Gonshen in Kurama Yama by Kazane
Piper, Kazane and Peylin at Kenninji Zen Temple in Kyoto by our lovely guide Kei chan