Explore Japan's Well-being Traditions: How to Recreate Japan's Onsens & Find Mindfulness Through Zen Meditation & Shakyo at Home by 30Seconds Travel

Bath & Body
a year ago

For would-be travelers dreaming of an escape to Japan post-lockdown, there are a variety of fun, interactive ways to recreate some of the country's ancient well-being and mindfulness practices from afar. The below methods and products highlight how some of Japan's oldest traditions, from onsens to the art of kintsugi, will help to inspire travelers to start planning their next restorative journey to Japan.

Japanese Onsens

One of Japan's most iconic wellness attractions, the onsen (or hot spring), is naturally enriched with vitamins and minerals from subterranean volcanic activity beneath the archipelago.

Photo: Beppu Onsen has several hot springs varying in color and clarity for different ailments (© JNTO)

There are a variety of products travelers can buy to enhance their own Japanese-style bath at home; the Japanese brand Kracie has created a variety of bath salts, allowing people to bring the magic of the onsen into their homes. These bath salts mimic the vitamin and mineral composition of some of Japan's most popular onsens like Noboribetsu OnsenBeppu Onsen and Kusatsu Onsen. Each packet of salts has a specific purpose, so people can mix and match the salts to create their desired wellness remedy.

Photo: Noboribetsu Onsen, Japan Travel

Photo: Beppu Onsen, Japan Travel

Photo: Kusatsu Onsen, Japan Travel

Another way to enjoy the Japanese-style bath at home is to introduce the scent of hinoki, or Japanese cypress. This type of wood is used for traditional Japanese bathtubs and bath products in ryokans and local homes, as the scent has a relaxing effect on the body. Adding a few drops of hinoki essential oil or burning a hinoki-scented candle can elevate any bath experience.


For a moment of mindfulness, the Soto Zen Buddhist Association also recommends the practice of zazen meditation, a meditative discipline specific to the Zen Buddhist tradition. In Japan, only two monasteries practice this form of Buddhism: the Daihonzen Eiheiji in Fukui Prefecture and the Daihonzan Sojiji in Kanagawa Prefecture. The association has a starter video to help anyone get started.

Photo: Daihonzen Eiheiji, Daihonzan-eiheiji.com/en

Photo: Daihonzan Sojiji, Sojiji.jp/english/index.html

Other forms of mindfulness include the practice of shakyo, or hand-copying Buddhist sutras. Shakyo originated before printing and was the primary way of diffusing the teachings of Buddha. Now, the practice is done as a form of prayer, and copying sutras can help someone obtain various blessings. Various kits can be found online such as this one that comes complete with a brush pen, transcription paper and a sutra.

Photo: Idyllic landscape of a Japanese garden in Kanazawa, Japan (Bigstock)

Directly translating to "golden journey," kintsugi is the meditative Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted in gold, silver or platinum and is tied to the philosophy of wabi-sabi, embracing the flawed or imperfect. The technique was originally invented in the 15th century and can now be practiced at home, using safe and hypoallergenic kits that has everything needed to successfully repair broken ceramics. Today, most gold used to fix ceramics with the kintsugi technique in Japan can be traced back to Kanazawa, which produces 99 percent of all domestic gold leaf.

These are just a few of the many well-being traditions that are entirely unique to Japan. For more inspirations, visit EnjoyMyJapan.jp/en/passion/relaxation.

Photo (main): White hot spring lake surrounded by a Japanese garden at Beppu, Oita-shi, Japan

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Elisa Schmitz, 30Seconds
I am so lucky that we were able to sneak in our trip to Japan in December, just before the pandemic. What an incredible country, and I hope to go back someday. For now, I love these ideas to have the Japanese experience here at home, thank you! Dieter Schmitz
This is so cool! 🙏

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