With its unique combination of Japanese culture, subtropical temperatures and stunning natural scenery, and as a designated ‘blue zone’ for life expectancy, Okinawa promises travellers a unique wellness retreat in 2022.
If you want to re-centre your life and reinvigorate your mind and body, Okinawa is one of the best places on the planet to do this. It offers everything from sunrise beach yoga and waterfall meditation to luxurious retreats as well as learning the secrets of longevity. There’s so much to experience across the prefecture’s 160 islands to indulge the body and soul – and it is only three hours south of Tokyo.
Below is a round-up of some of its favourite wellness activities to make a truly unforgettable revitalising break in Japan’s most southern prefecture:
Learn the local secrets of the ‘blue zone’
Located in the north of Okinawa’s main island, visitors will find the rural village of Ogimi. Known locally as the ‘village of longevity’ and proclaimed the ‘longest-living village in Japan’, the community offers homestay experiences welcoming travellers into their homes.
During the stay, the friendly locals share their wisdom on the different factors believed to contribute to their longevity, including eating habits and how to manage an active yet less stressful lifestyle. The programme includes farming experiences and cooking classes, as well as home-cooked meals and in-depth advice from the wise villagers.
Starting from ¥10,120 per person and inclusive of all activities, room, breakfast and dinner, there are one and two nights options available and upgrades to full board with dinner. Alternatively, there are also day trips for those who don’t have time for an overnight stay. Further details are available here: ogimi-tourism.com.
Breathe in and breathe out
Some things are worth waking up early for and a morning walking meditation and beach yoga class, set to the backdrop of Okinawa’s beautiful natural scenery, is certainly one of them. Located on the hill of Onna Village, which is known for its stunning shoreline scenery and idyllic white-sand beaches, travellers will find the spiritual health dojo Wayn-Zen.
Their ‘Walking Meditation and Beach Yoga’ programme is a relaxing and restorative experience, including an early morning slow walking meditation to the beach followed by yoga. Classes start from £24 per person. Post-class meals cooked with locally grown vegetables (vegan and non-vegan options available) can be booked at an additional cost.
Dip into the deep ocean… on land!
For those looking for a unique spa experience, the Ryukyu Onsen Senagajima Hotel (above) is a 15- minute drive from Naha Airport and boasts the Ryujin-no-yu (public hot spring), perfect to start or finish (or both) a wellness-focused trip. The natural hot spring boasts mineral-rich deep ocean water collected from 1,000m underground of Senaga Island that helps promote blood circulation and soothes the muscles – plus, it is also believed to have moisturising benefits.
The facility has different types of hot spring tubs and saunas for visitors to choose from – a popular option is Tachiyu hot spring tub, with a depth of 1.2m and views of Kerama Island and the ocean. Additionally, there is also a range of therapeutic treatments and massages for visitors to enjoy. Admission to hot spring facilities starts from ¥1,360 per person, with treatments at an additional cost. Further details and requirements for entry are available here: www.resorts.co.jp/senaga/en/ryujinhotspring.
A luxurious wellness retreat
‘Halekulani Okinawa Escapes’ programme by Halekulani Okinawa is perfect for those looking for a luxurious wellness retreat. Exclusive to guests at the hotel, the programme is run under the supervision of the acclaimed professor Arakawa, who specialises in studying how Okinawa’s distinctive lifestyle enhances wellness and longevity.
The programme includes three experiences:
- Discover the Island’s Mabui (soul)’, focusing on Goju-Ryu, a traditional Okinawan style of karate.
- Discover the Island’s Umui (spirit)’, which explores areas and sites of spiritual significance and Okinawa’s wellness philosophies.
- Discover the Island’s Glow’, designed to discover the area’s stunning natural beauty.
There are 2-night and 3-night packages available starting at ¥258,000 per person, inclusive of breakfast, lunch, dinner and a spa treatment. Additionally, the elegant hotel offers a ‘Wellness Retreat‘ programme, combining signature spa treatments and therapies with Reash 4 Stance Theory. This is a curated method of training that involves conditioning exercises that allow the body to move in harmony with its natural centre of gravity and central axis – the programme is available as a half-day, one day or two-day experience starting from ¥54,600 per person.
Feel the magic of waterfall meditation
For a mindful and restorative end to a wellness break in the prefecture, visitors can take part in Nachura’s ‘forest programme’. Here visitors embark on a forest walk to a waterfall to practice both Takigyo (traditional waterfall meditation) and Vipassana meditation (one of the most ancient techniques of meditation)… all while being serenaded by the relaxing sounds of nature. Kucha clay, a special clay with the finest particles and only found in certain parts of Okinawa, is provided to participants for skin detoxing purposes. The experience starts from ¥11,000 per person.
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