Kyoto, the apple of my eye, is an ancient city of Japan where a 1200 year history is still very much alive in the sights, shrines and traditions of the modern 21st century.
Japan (especially Kyoto) has always been on my list of “places to see”. Because of the insane visa regulations (more on that later) for South Africans I’ve pushed it aside time and again, but this year I had all the admin planned out to the last minute and after working in South Korea for about 3 and a half years I finally had the chance to visit the individualistic neighbour to the East.
As soon as I got out of the subway at Kwaramachi; close to the relatively busy area of the Gion District, the atmosphere of this ancient city came rushing over me. Kyoto, like a highly-trained masseuse, unknotted a part of my already-extremely-relaxed-soul with very delicate hands.
She applied a bit of acupressure and touched just the right key points to stimulate the Kyoto-experience. With essential oils she therapeutically released a scent in the air at shrines, temples, street food stalls. I had many sessions with her where she combined reflexology with breath therapy – as I walked through ancient and mysterious Japanese zen gardens, forests and tiny passages my lung passages opened up, my blood circulation improved and the toxins dripped from my fingertips.
Aromatherapy via Street Food
Aromatherapy uses essential oils in body- and skin care treatments. Aromatheraphy diffusers are utilised to fill the massage room with a lovely scent.
Dango is a Japanese dumpling and sweet made from Mochiko (rice flour).
Naikan Therapy via Omikuji Fortune Strips
Naikan therapy emphasises gratitude as a way to heal depression, anxiety, and neurosis.
Omikuji are random fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. It is scrolled up or folded, and unrolling the piece of paper reveals the blessing written on it.
Zen Body Therapy via Ryōan-ji Zen Temple
Zen Body Therapy integrates Zen training with Eastern teachings of the circulation of vital energy or essence of life.
Ryoan-ji Zen Temple, constructed from 1488-1499, is famous for its mysterious rock garden.
Balneotherapy via the Hozu-gawa River at Arashiyama
Balneotherapy is the ancient use of water to restore and revitalise the body. It has been used to improve circulation, fortify the immune system, relieve pain and treat stress.
The Hozu-gawa river begins in the mountains near Kameoka and snakes into the Arashiyama section of western Kyoto.
Naturopathy via the Bamboo Forest
Naturopathy integrates a wide range of natural therapeutics emphasising the healing power of nature to treat the causes of disease, rather than suppressing the symptoms.
The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is one of the most natural and scenic sites in Japan.
Foot Zone Therapy via Arashiyama Foot Bath
Foot zone therapy is based on the premise that energy flows through the body in meridians from the brain to the feet.
The foot bath at the Keifuku Railway station is the perfect relief for aching feet after a long day of exploring.
Art Therapy via the Streets of Kyoto
Art therapy uses the media of the arts to provide release of symbolic expression and allows the individual an opportunity to confront inner perceptions of the self.
Kyoto’s contemporary art scene is growing rapidly and art galleries are promoting “new” art created by local artists.
My whole experience in Kyoto can be summed up as a Zen Shiatsu Therapy Session. Zen Shiatsu is a unique form of bodywork that provides the satisfaction of touch along with a profound energy-balancing experience.
Kyoto touched me.
Kyoto satisfied me.
Kyoto gave me a profound energy-balancing experience.