Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Le's travels: Japan

I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with Le Huynh in August 2008. He travels the world, and shares images and experiences of the places he visits. This post is from his 2012 visit to Japan.

Dear friends, 

A well known consequence of our fast and connected modern world is the equally fast and furious rise of stress levels.  Back in the early 90’s, people began to notice an increasing number of incidents where someone has literally “dropped dead” from overwork!

Shuzenji Temple in autumn.

Suddenly, the last decade has seen a proliferation of 'urban' spas, all promising the ideal relaxation in response to the strong demand of near burnout customers.

Sumptuous meals with local fresh catch
     
These days, for city folks who are used to effective methodology towards clearly defined goals, ‘result-oriented’ spas have become popular in cities where people are forever pressed for time:  to get the maximum result with minimal effort... and may as well stave off ageing while at it!

Shuzenji Temple in autumn.
The antithesis of the modern-day spa is the traditional centuries old practice of the Japanese Bath also known as “Onsen” (meaning Hot springs).  Being a volcanic island, Japan has an abundant supply of natural hot water from volcanic springs. Since ancient times, these hot springs have been known to have healing power depending on their mineral composition.
  

During the Nara era (from 710 AD), many rest houses have been constructed by Buddhist monks in order to provide shelter for pilgrims. They have chosen wisely those locations near hot springs for bathing purposes

Onsen in front of the Ocean (and the stars at night)

and also for their healing power to the weary travelers. Overtime, these traditional Onsen inn (or Ryokan) have refined the experience with beautifully manicured surrounding garden, comfortable sleeping quarters, soothing massage, and exquisitely prepared meals using local fresh ingredients. 
The colours of autumn.
Like all finer things in life, going to a Japanese Onsen has become something of an artistic ritual. It is a conscious act of taking time out to breath and to leave behind the daily grind of hectic life. Only after thoroughly cleansing one’s body may one slowly enter the hot bath where the purification of one’s mind begins…  The contemplation of nature at an Onsen’s outdoor bath is the result of a Zen like meditative approach to bathing. It gives us a spiritual dimension to this most intimate act and a connection to the ancient mysticism of the East. It is truly a quintessential experience touching the very core of Japanese culture and tradition.

Le
Japan 2012

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