Tokyo Tour & Zen Retreat

June 26th-July 9th 2020

Join Bobby for a SOULjourn into the heart of Tokyo. Take the trains, walk the neighborhoods, connect with the people, the culture, the history, and the NOW of Japan.

Welcome to Tokyo, a city where serene perfection flows seamlessly into wacky eccentricity. The exotic jewel in the center of a country that defies classification. Japan is a place where the traditional and modern flow together with bewildering harmony. Meditate in a zen garden, visit the perfect simplicity of a shinto shrine, and then take a five minute walk down the block to find the electronics shopping capital of the world, or the wild incongruity of dancing Elvises and Harajuku girls.

What will I see and do?

Tokyo is our base to explore the highlights of the city, with day trips to the great Buddha in Kamakura, Tanabata star festival in the region of the elusive Mt. Fuji, as well as an overnight stay in a Buddhist temple.

Tea ceremonies, shrines, temples, zen parks, festivals, sumo wrestlers, hot spring baths, culinary delights, and more will be littered throughout your two weeks of Japanese immersion. *Scroll down for more details on each activity and excursion.

Who is this tour suitable for?

This is a tour for the adventurous traveler who likes to experience their destinations as the locals do. Local transportation is used to explore neighborhoods and city surrounds. It is common to walk a few kilometers daily getting to and from stations and city highlights. Accommodations are provided in traditional style inns when possible. These are often older buildings that are comfortable but with simple amenities. Washrooms may be shared.

No yoga experience is necessary. This is a Zen themed pilgrimage that provides ample opportunity to discover and immerse oneself in the spiritual traditions of Japan. Meditation techniques and contemplation topics that resonate with daily activities and destinations are provided. Morning park yoga is available when weather and travel plans allow. Meditation periods are provided in shrines, temples and scenic areas that inspire. Feel free to take part in as much, or as little, as you feel inclined to do so in this aspect of the trip.

How much free time will I have?

Our schedule will include sightseeing, shopping and relaxation time. You can stick with the group or break out from time to time if you are a free spirit. With the exception of planned excursion days we will be exploring the nooks and crannies of Tokyo with lots of room for flexibility. If we can practically fit in the thing you have always dreamed of doing in Tokyo we do it. Anyone wanting a day on their own is supported with maps, useful phrases, bookings, and anything else required to ensure a successful experience.


$4995 CAD+hst. A deposit of $500 CAD is required to hold your spot. Space is limited. Preferred payment is via email transfer to (password: Japan), or personal cheque. Contact if you would like to discuss payment options or any other trip details.

What is included

  • 13 nights of accommodation (double occupancy)
  • Day trip to the old capital of Kamakura to see the great Buddha
  • Day trip to Kanagawa for the biggest Tanabata festival celebration near Tokyo.
  • Overnight in a Buddhist temple complete with zazen instruction.
  • Two traditional vegetarian (shojinryori) temple meals.
  • Pre-loaded train and bus pass with a balance of $400.
  • Daily schedule of guided tours of the most famous neighborhoods, shrines, temples, and day trips from Tokyo.
  • Language and cultural support from arrival to departure.
  • Daily schedule of meditation and/or outdoor yoga asana (weather dependent).
  • Tea ceremony experience
  • Sushi party (vegetarian options)
  • Bus to and from airport
  • Taxi from train station on first and last days
  • Personalized support as needed with all aspects of navigating this amazing city!

What is not included

Flights to and from Japan, travel insurance, food (with the exceptions noted above), entrance to optional attractions and excursions, other travel expenses. Most temples and shrines are free.

Arrival and Departure

Arrive Friday, June 26th & Depart Thursday July 9th.

Tanabata Star Festival We are are lucky to arrive at the very beginning of festival season, just in time to check out the first Summer festival of the year. This celebration marks the one day per year that the lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi, separated by the milky way 364 days of the year, are allowed to meet. Tanabata provides the opportunity to experience the sensory extravaganza of a Japanese street festival. Tanabata features colourful hanging lanterns, and festival food. Takoyaki (squid balls), tomorokoshi (grilled corn), yakisoba (grilled noodles), and so much more! The Japanese write their wishes on paper strips and tie them to bamboo shoots on this auspicious day. We will take a day trip to this area that, in addition to this festival, is also known for a view of the ever modest Fuji San, hopefully she will not be modestly cloaked in her familiar mist of clouds.

Kamakura is a breathtaking medieval capital south of Tokyo. It boasts dozens of Buddhist Zen temples and Shinto Shrines. The 13m high Daibutsu or Great Buddha is Kamakura’s main draw, well known for surviving a 15th century tsunami. We spend a day winding our way through this city of ancient temples and shrines, culminating at the home of the Great Buddha. This Daibutsu is notable not only for it’s size, and serene location, but is considered by many to be one of the more beautiful depictions of the Buddha.

A rare opportunity to stay in a buddhist temple. Practice zazen, copy the heart sutra, eat temple food, and follow the traditional routines for temple stays.

Shukubo (Temple Stay) One night will be spent in a buddhist temple complete with instruction to follow the zen Buddhist temple traditions. The accommodations are simple and drenched in atmosphere. You will get to experience Shojinryori, which is vegetarian food made by the monks, and requires special instructions to eat with the reverence required in this serene setting. Opportunity for zazen (zen meditation) will be provided evening and early morning before we return to the outside world.

Japanese Food is delightfully exotic with a mind boggling array of options. Adding to each culinary experience, Japanese restaurants are often carefully crafted to artistically highlight the specific food served. Exploring the food culture of Japan will definitely be one of the highlights of this trip. Effort will be made to help participants learn about options, and direct them toward locations that fit their budget and tastes. This trip will expose participants to all of the most famous Japanese foods. Revolving-bar sushi restaurants, oknomiyaki in table grill establishments, traditional mattcha tea houses, izakaya (traditional bar) food, and so much more. This time of year also brings the lucky opportunity to see some festival foods such as takoyaki (squid balls), and tomorokoshi (grilled corn on a stick), dango (rice paste balls with syrup), and so much more. Late night street food stalls like authentic piping hot ramen stands abound. Let Bobby know if you are interested in a specific exotic food experience and she will research the best place to find it.

Food prices vary from very high-end pricing in luxury settings to cheap, yet tasty, convenience store food. Convenience stores are common places to get a meal on the go. They will have rice balls, boiled eggs, noodles and lots of fabulous modern and traditional food options that will allow you to grab a meal on the go for $10 or less.

Japanese restaurants are well known for the plastic food models frequently found in entrance displays. This is a great way to figure out what you want to eat if you can’t read the menu!