You do not need to go to the most famous Japanese Buddhist temples or Shinto shrines but some advantageously organize activities in English. Conveniently, you can try many of these activities in Tokyo, Kyoto... or in the Japanese countryside! Still, the language barrier remains strong in Japan so prepare yourself well and/or go with a Japanese-speaking companion.
Preliminary remark: Yoga is an activity outside the Japanese culture.
- Share time with a Buddhist monk or Shinto priest.
- Share time with a craftsman dedicated to holy works e.g. a sculptor making statues of Jizo or Buddha.
- Attend a simple Buddhist or Shintoist ceremony.
- Attend a Buddhist ceremony celebrating Buddha's birth at e.g. Asuka-dera.
- Attend a Buddhist funeral with cremation (exceptionally Shintoist) for a person or animal.
- Attend a "11 March 2011 Tohoku disaster" memorial event in the Tohoku region with locals.
- Spend a quiet moment with the Big Buddha of Asuka-dera.
- Worship the Japanese gods at Izumo-taisha during Kamiarizuki/Kannazuki.
- Discover/understand sacred texts with specialists in Buddhism and Shintoism.
- Practice meditation e.g. zazen.
- Practice 写経 (shakyo, copying of a sutra) in Japanese.
- Practice sutra chanting/recitation in Japanese.
- Stroll among hundreds of expressive statues of Buddha's disciples at e.g. Choan-ji in Hakone, Nihon-ji on Mount Nokogiri or Ten'onzan-gohyaku-rakan-ji in Tokyo.
- Stay at a Buddhist temple/monastery for a few days (basic temple stay) or for a long period (retreat) at e.g. Mount Koya.
- Go on a pilgrimage around e.g. Kumano-kodo or Shikoku.
- Undergo a 修行 (shugyo, religious training).
- Volunteer in the Tohoku region (Fukushima prefecture or beyond).
- Explore the ancient forest of Yakushima.
- Explore the marine world of Japan by diving in e.g. the tropical waters of Okinawa or the arctic waters of Hokkaido.
- Explore the part of Japan most affected by the "11 March 2011 Tohoku disaster".
- Observe a visibly active volcano in Kyushu.
- Fly over Japan in a balloon.
- Walk among autumn leaves and winter cherry blossoms at Sakurayama park.
- Spend a dark silent night on Taketomi island.
- Watch a sky filled with stars in Hokkaido during a clear winter night.
- Watch a sunrise from the summit of Mount Fuji.
- Watch a perfect solar eclipse in Japan.
Beyond these activities, you can acquire an お守り (omamori, lucky charm) at your favourite Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine, experience 精進料理 (shojin-ryori, Buddhist cuisine) at a temple or restaurant, and meet same-minded people in Japan during dedicated events (e.g. jisha-kon) or tours organized by a Japanese travel agency.
Discover Japan and make a step on the path to enlightenment _/\_
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