English Meditation and Mindfulness Experiences and Classes in Tokyo in 2021
What we're all searching for: Inner calm.
Today, we're looking at classes, resources, and sessions for meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation that are provided with English guidance and are available in the Tokyo area.
From experiencing Zazen (sitting meditation) for the first time to Tibetan Buddhist meditation sessions to weekly mindfulness classes to help cultivate tranquility, we cover a range of opportunities that will help you unwind, relax, and recharge this coming weekend.
Monthly open Zazen at a historic temple in Yokohama, an hour outside of Tokyo
Situated in the Yokohama-Kamakura area, a little south of Tokyo, is one of the oldest temples of the Rinzai School of Zen Buddhism in Japan.
Built in Kamakura in the early 13th century, Tokozenji was officially founded as a Rinzai School in 1282 and moved to its current location in Kamariya during the Onin era (1467-69).
This temple has opened its arms to international visitors by providing their monthly Zazen experience in Japanese with a brief English explanation and opportunity for conversation and questions with a Zen priest after the session. Generally held on the second or third Sunday of each month. Admission is free; donations are welcomed.
Location: 2-40-8 Kamariya-minami, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama-City 236-0045
Weekly Meetup group for Tibetan Buddhist Meditation in Kogane
Part of the Karma Kagyu school, Diamond Way Buddhism is one of the three "old schools" of Tibetan Buddhism, which places a focus on Buddhist meditation practice, with the aim of providing easy access to authentic Buddhist teachings and meditations for use in contemporary life.
The center offers weekly guided meditations at their location in Kogane on Sunday evenings. Events can be found on Meetup, where they have over a thousand members. (RSVP if you plan to attend.)
These beginner friendly sessions include a brief talk on Buddhism, followed by practicing the 16th Karmapa Meditation (20 to 30 minutes). Admission is free and there is nothing you need to prep in advance.
Location: Higashicho 3-8-16, Koganei-shi, Tokyo, Est Merveille 401, 184-0011
80-minute, 4-step immersive mindfulness experience in Minami-Aoyama
Medicha, located in Aoyama, is a luxurious mindfulness experience that has received wide news coverage since its launch.
Based on concepts explored by mindfulness author and leader, Jeremy Hunter, the studio offers a 4-step meditation session that lasts for 80 minutes. Each step places you in a different environment to evoke new states of being.
Steps 1 and 2 are "Tune In" and "Open Up" where you move from white minimalist space to a dark environment with a starry sky. These initial two steps are meant to help you release emotions and thoughts in preparation for Step 3, which is a guided meditation.
When creating a booking, you can request the guided meditation in English or in Japanese as well as choose between a variety of guided meditations. The last step is that of meditating while making yourself traditional tea in a modern tea room, complete with utilities crafted by local artisans.
Book your reservation from here. The 4-step meditation experience is ¥12,000.
Location: BLEU CINQ POINT Bld.C-B1, 5-3-18 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo (Omotesando Station, 4-minute walk from Exit A5)
Flying Monk founder's Zen meditation sessions on Zoom
Soo Iwayama, Rinzai Zen priest and abbot of Ganshu Zen Temple in Kanagawa, leads weekly Zazen sessions on Zoom.
With a German father and a Japanese mother, Iwayama speaks fluent German, Japanese, and English. Additionally, Iwayama has led Zen sessions at Google's headquarters in Japan and is founder of Flying Monk that provides Zazen programs for corporations.
The session begins with an explanation of how to do a sitting meditation, followed by Dharma sermon, zazen, a Q&A, and then ending with the Heart Sutra chant. The duration is 60 minutes. Add the Google calendar near the bottom of the page to get the Zoom link.
Contact: Contact form
Yoga Nidra guided relaxation group or private classes in Setagaya
Setagaya Yoga Studio is run by Lindsey Sawada, a British woman who has been living in Tokyo since 1997 and a Hatha yoga teacher since January of 2015.
Experienced in transcendental meditation and mindfulness, Sawada's true passion is for Yoga Nidra and guided relaxation (example here) that combines a body scan with breath awareness, along with a visual and sense component, often called “yogic sleep” as it induces a state between being asleep and awake, which results in deep rejuvenation and relaxation.
Sessions last between 20 minutes to an hour, during which Sawada guides you through the practice bringing your attention to body, breath, senses, emotions, and imagery.
Private guided relaxation and Yoga Nidra classes are ¥8,000 per class (mention TokyoMate for a ¥1,000 discount on your first class). Group yoga classes are also available at ¥2,000 per class.
Location: Setagaya studio or private sessions in your home
A tucked-away temple in Hiroo, offering daily Zazen sessions
Korin-in offers weekly Zen meditation with English guidance. Located in Hiroo, Shibuya, the temple holds Zazen sessions from 7:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, and from 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.
Google Reviews provides some helpful tips on finding the location, as Korin-in temple is located on the grounds of Shounji temple, and past visitors have had difficulty finding the hall used for meditation.
The temple has a YouTube channel and broadcasts some of the sessions. They have also provided the following video with English subtitles on how to perform Zazen.
Location: Kōrin-in Temple, 5 Chome-1-21 Hiroo, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0012
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