Okinawa Tourism Information:SacredSitesTourRetreat(NanjoCity)OffersaChancetoRediscoverandReleaseYourselfthroughLeisurelyToursofSacredSites

Sacred Sites Tour Retreat (Nanjo City) Offers a Chance to Rediscover and Release Yourself through Leisurely Tours of Sacred Sites

post : 2019.09.23 00:00

Photo Courtesy of East Home Town Okinawa Co., Ltd.

Yesterday, today, tomorrow; as we live our lives to the fullest every day, there are times when things can get pretty overwhelming. Whether it’s at school, the workplace, or at home, every day we live our days surrounded by other people and in all sorts of situations. So it’s only natural for things to happen. Even if we don’t feel as though we’re stretching ourselves out to survive, maybe we just don’t realize it, and we’re all working a little bit too hard in our lives. That’s probably why when we have some time off, some of us like to go shopping or to the movies, or enjoy a great meal, or whatever we choose to recharge ourselves. On occasion, we may want to relax and enjoy being at home. And other times, we want to go on a trip somewhere.

Say, for example, you choose Okinawa as a candidate destination for your next vacation. You’ll first book a flight, or maybe you might start off checking out accommodations. Next, you’ll start thinking about where to go and what to do while in Okinawa. Actually, this is the fun part when going on a trip, making plans. You’ll be thinking about it as you enjoy a break at a café in the city, in your living room, or even at the office. Your mind will be full of all the great places you checked out, thinking, “That sounds like fun, and this place looks cool,” and you may even be grinning without even realizing. Someone observing you might be chuckling as you grin away, immersed in your vacation plans.

For those of you who have visited Okinawa before, it’s likely that you already know, but Okinawa has heaps of sights to see, foods to enjoy, places to visit, and things to experience. When visiting just for a few days, you might find yourself adding a bit too much in your itinerary and end up with an exhaustingly cramped trip. It’s understandable to want to make the most out of your stay in Okinawa, and many people find themselves scheduling in various stops. However, I hope that you’ll choose Okinawa to experience a trip where you’ll simply just relax, because in Okinawa, you’ll find that time passes by comfortably slower than many other places.

Photo Courtesy of East Home Town Okinawa Co., Ltd.

Set out to a small outer island and gaze out to the sea from the beach. Trek through the forests of Yanbaru and breathe in the energy-filled air in nature. Pack your gear and spend the day swimming with the fish in the clear waters. At night, visit a Minyo Snack, or an old school local folk music bar where Oji (grandpas) and Oba (grandmas) gather, and sing along with them to Okinawan songs. Of course, add in a few stops in between to enjoy popular local cafes and restaurants to feast on the delicious Okinawan tastes. When you return home from Okinawa after all these experiences, you’ll feel, “so recharged I’m good to go for another half a year!” Some of you, though, may feel you didn’t get enough.

If you have a few hours to spare during your stay in Okinawa, I recommend a very special retreat in southern Okinawa. If you’re one of those people that works a little too hard, or need to let go of things that have been weighing you down physically and emotionally, and if you want to do something about it, this may be it. It’s also good for people who have had a bunch of things that coincidentally happened recently, and you want to do something positive for yourself, this also may be a good activity to sign up for.

A retreat offered in Nanjo City consists of touring the various sacred sites found throughout the southern region. This retreat is designed by Kazuhito Aizawa, who offers wellness tourism with the concept of “healing the mind and body,” which combines tourism and medical care. Through this retreat, participants are given an opportunity to rediscover themselves and/or let go of the baggage that may be weighing them down by visiting various sacred sites such as Yaharazukasaya, Hamagawa Utaki, and others.

Photo Courtesy of East Home Town Okinawa Co., Ltd.

We may think we understand ourselves well, but there are times when we realize that we actually don’t, and that realization is a trigger for us to lead to change. As you tour the sacred sites, pause and become one with nature, and reset yourself as you let go of the everyday stresses that have piled on through days and days of running around and getting things done. Close your eyes and listen to the ebb and flow of the waves and the chirping of the birds as you reflect on your past up to the present, and re-evaluate yourself. Things that may be difficult to face alone, or things you can’t seem to focus on as you live your life, all of these things can be uncovered with the assistance of an experienced person, and particularly in a place like Okinawa, an island that seems to be overflowing with kindness.

Photo Courtesy of East Home Town Okinawa Co., Ltd.

This retreat doesn’t end with you just talking or listening to someone, nor does it end with a meditation session. You can say this is a “triangular” retreat. It’s about the sacred sites, the person there to support you, and your willingness to respond. For instance, take a stroll at the Kakinohana Hija springs. Walk on the stone-paved paths in your bare feet and feel the earth with the soles of your feet as you approach the spring with a rich flow of natural water that collects in a pond. Let yourself go in this calming, peaceful atmosphere, and perhaps you’ll notice something within you.

Photo Courtesy of East Home Town Okinawa Co., Ltd.

In a retreat designed for couples, there’s times arranged for each to spend time separately. “Your fault,” or “my fault.” We often forget that we lived with different cultures and surroundings than our partners, and of course, each of us live by the rhythm of our own drums. That’s why we may clash sometimes. Aizawa-san takes time to listen to you, and to your partner. After that, the three of you will get together to share. Some people are shocked with the realization that they’ve been unknowingly annoying their partners. Others shed tears as they come to terms with themselves, realizing they had grudges against their partners for something that were essentially small matters.

They offer two major programs, both of which involve visiting sacred sites, and at times, meditating at the beach, taking in the energy of nature at hidden and secret spots, or leisurely strolling along the beach. During all these activities, your senses will catch the thoughts that cross your mind and you can really pay attention to them.

My recommendation is their REBORN Course, which guides you a chance to free yourself from your past and present. The program aims to have you reflect on your past self, and face your present, the inner desire to escape, and then ultimately, to let yourself be freed from both the past and the present. The first stop in this course is Hyakuna Beach. Then to Yaharazukasa, which is one of the most important sites in Okinawa, then to Kakinohana Hija springs, then to Tamagusuku Gusuku, which completes this wonderful tour. This course invites you to reflect on your past, feel your present, and visualize your future, offering you a chance to feel and catch something to help you. The required time for this course is three hours.

The other course is recommended for people with less time, and is a program to go back to your roots. The course offers a simple exercise where you will sit at a sacred site and reflect, screening your inner self. You will immerse yourself in the location that has seen centuries of history, and also in the present time that passes quietly. This course focuses on reflecting on the past, and gives participants a chance to look deeper into themselves and to others around them, and to forgive, accept and to remove any baggage that they may be carrying emotionally.

This course is open for anyone, whether they’re alone, with a partner, with close friends, colleagues, or anyone else.

These programs are designed by Aizawa-san, who was inspired after he relocated to Okinawa and started living in Nanjo City. He walked throughout the area, thinking and feeling. After graduating from university, he worked at a travel agency specializing in incentive tours, then went on to work as a cast member in Tokyo Disneyland. He then worked as a guide in Niagara and Toronto, Canada. Aizawa-san reflects, “Through chance, I started working in Okinawa. I wanted to assist people in having fun, then my feelings and style of accommodating people shifted. I wanted to heal people. At the end of vacations, many people may be thinking, “I have to go back to work tomorrow…” But instead, if people were to feel, “I feel encouraged,” or “I was able to reflect on myself a little,” or “I’m going to love myself more starting today. I’m going to live my life and move forward!” That would make everyone feel happy.”

Aizawa-san says, “The foundation of my present self was coming across Kudaka Island.” He said he was fascinated by Kudaka Island, and for a while, worked as a coordinator and brought visitors to the island. Eventually, he began to question, “Is it really ok for me to be bringing people here?” He temporarily stopped working as a coordinator, thinking, “I shouldn’t come to this island unless I’m able to really convey what this island is about.” From this experience, he began to develop his own rules in terms of manners and etiquette when entering or relating to sacred sites. “Kudaka Island is the root of my being. Through Kudaka Island, my true present self was born,” Aizawa-san says quietly. Deeply rooted in this region and together with this land, he aims to offer an alternative style in tourism in Okinawa.


East Home Town Okinawa
Address: 106 Marumine Mansion, 458 Shikenbaru, Tamagusuku, Nanjo City, Okinawa
Telephone: 098-949-1184
Inquiries: 9:00 to 18:00 (Monday to Friday)

Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Nobuya Fukuda


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