Chasing Wellness & Wellbeing in Nara, part 2

In the last blog, I have shared with you why my trip to Nara was so important for my wellbeing and why I believe Nara, is the perfect prefecture in Japan if you want to experience true wellness.

I made a compilation of the 10 top experiences you should embrace to achieve the most possible Wellness and Wellbeing in Nara.

I have mentioned the first 5 of those 10, in this blog here: part 1  and today’s blog is the continuation of experiences I highly recommend if you are a wellness-minded traveler motivated to improve your wellbeing and seeking to maintain wellness.

So check my other 5 top experiences in Nara to WW:

  • Zen and Adrenaline Two things that may not seem like they go together are relaxation and adventurous activities but combining both encourages a traveler to live in the moment and let go of any worries they are suffering. Among the various schools of Buddhism that took root in Japan, Zen is perhaps the most well known overseas, and in many ways, Zen and Japanese culture get mixed and are even considered synonyms.  From Japanese gardens to tea ceremonies and even martial arts, were all either direct expressions of the Zen spirit or were greatly influenced by it. I have been privileged to have wonderful zen moments this trip, including having a private Zen meditation with a top Monk but also was so lucky to be part of several tea ceremonies, and one was so special that took the entire day ahahah. At the same time, there were so many moments full of adrenaline which made me constantly feel on the edge and feel alive. Highlights got to be in the middle of the mountains during what seemed a snow storm and have to hike to our next destination, and being on top of the Tanize Suspension Bridge – which is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world, once again, during a bit of a storm lol.

Zen moment

  • Detox Eating: If you know me, you know how I am serious about my food. I have always been a bit of a healthy eater – been to McDonald’s only once in my life and couldn’t finish my “meal” lol but I feel that through the years is something I get more and more serious about. I am plant based and try to eat as more clean as possible including eating raw. Still, as healthy as I can be, I feel like in Japan I can take it a notch higher … Japan is the paradise for clean food, not only is a GMO-free region (bye bye Monsanto) but they have always been very serious about sustainability and local produce. During my trip, I wanted to eat tasty food but that was good for the body and that’s exactly what I got in Nara. Pretty much every meal I had was from local produce – making it sustainable, but also delicious as everything was organic. The most memorable meal was the dinner meal I had in Gojo, at Gojo Genbei. Not only the food was stunning, delicious and super healthy, what I love it that while we were eating our 12 course meal, that had 62 different types of vegetables, the waiter brought a huge basket with every single ingredient that was used to cook that meal, explained us what it was, the benefits, where it came from – mostly from the farmers living behind the restaurant, all from Nara prefecture, and how they prepared it. Never had this experience before where we have a full explanation of our meal. So recommend this place. What a must, but I must say that all the 40+ meals I had in Nara this last trip, never had a bad experience. Another of the highlights was to visit a famous strawberry farm – Nara is famous for having the best (and most expensive) strawberries in Japan – some even claim in the World, where I was picking them and eat them straight from the soil. Now that was cool.

At Gojo Genbei where they show what we will eat

  • Engage in the unknown – One of the main reasons I love about traveling is how much you can learn about a new culture, its costumes, its traditions, the people, the culinary etc… And one of the best ways to experience their lifestyle is observing but also participating in those same experiences. This trip, I have been fortunate to repeat certain experiences I had the opportunity to have during my first visit to Japan such having a tea ceremony or cooking classes, but also tried completely new ones that I have never think of or even come across before. There are a few experiences I would like to share with you because they were so unique and not only they made me learn a lot about the culture and Japanese style but also made me relax and achieve more wellbeing: such Kado Experience (basically is the art of creating flower arrangements in a very specific way and is something that Japanese have been doing for centuries. I also had so much fun learning about Hanabi experience. It’s funny but I have never been a fan of fireworks and always considered it a bit silly until I have learned about Hanabi and how fireworks are actually an art and how important they are for the Japanese culture. Other fun experience I did was Japanese swordsmithing, basically learning about the intricacy that is creating a katana and learn more about the Samurai culture. Tea whisk making: now that’s something I never thought I would be learning but proved to be such an interesting process completely out of my bucket list.

Tea ceremony – always a favorite

  • Disconnect from the Digital – Due to the style I usually travel, to be connected to the digital world is a must. In several blogs and posts I have explained that the first thing I do when I arrive in a new country is to buy a local sim card – well, actually the second thing I do after withdraw money…  because from the moment I land in a new country I am totally internet dependent (to find a hotel, a bus or taxi, check prices so I don’t get scammed etc etc)… And yes it’s helpful but it’s exhausting… because when you realize you spent a lot of your time looking at your phone looking for recommendations or itineraries rather than exploring and getting lost. So this trip was exceptional to me because I hardly looked at my phone – apart to use it as a camera. I didn’t even have internet – not only I didn’t have data since I didn’t bother getting a local sim card, but some of the hotels I would even forget to ask for wifi  – this might sound a contradiction, since Japan is famous for their technology but connection can be pretty bad in some places so sometimes I didn’t even bother. So thanks to Kansai Nara Treasure Travel that planned everything for me, I didn’t even have to be connected online – reason I would go silent on social media for a few days lol, and that was definitely something I strongly advise because you want to feel in the moment with your head up high, not staring at a screen.

Instead of looking at screens this is what I was staring at.

  • Sleep quality: Ryokan – you cannot think about wellbeing without considering the importance of sleeping well. A good sleep routine is essential for our mindfulness. This trip to Nara in Japan was a bit mixed when it comes to sleep routine – unfortunately, I had a bad jet lag – which rarely happens, therefore, I was waking up at 2 am during the first few days… that was frustrating. On the other hand, every single night I was privileged and lucky to sleep at a ryokan. Now if you don’t know what a ryokan is, let me enlighten you: Ryokans are the jewel in the crown of Japanese accommodation and have been the popular relaxation spots for the royalty and Japan wealthy for hundreds of years. Rooms are tailored for you to feel in harmony and relaxation with its beautiful decorations and flower arrangements plus all the extras like a Yucata – a sort of Japanese Pajama and the best food you can wish for, usual private onsens and even private gardens and top customer service. As for the beds, they are usually a futon in the floor, but don’t be fooled to believe isn’t good, in fact, those mattresses are pretty magical and you will sleep like a baby – at least until your internal clock wakes you up at 2 am thinking is time to get up. Honestly, every single night, I stayed at the most beautiful ryokans and slept on some seriously comfy beds which were a treat to my wellbeing and so strongly recommend at least one night in one of these magical places.

Confy nights

So this is it for now.

I just want to say a massive THANK YOU to Kansai Nara Treasure Travel for organizing such epic trip. I highly recommend this incredible agency if you ever want to experience the best Japan and Nara has to offer.

Loads of love,

Emma

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