Koyasan


I mentioned in a previous post that Andy and I took on the ascetic training to complete the 88 temples on Shikoku Island.   It took us a year exactly to complete, so this post marks the anniversary to when we embarked on such a beautiful and spiritual journey.

Koyasan is known as a meeting place for pilgrims to join before they start and after they finish their journey.  Sharing stories and experiences alike.   It is the home of Kobu Daishi where he decided to go into eternal meditation over one thousand years ago.  Many believe , to this day, he is still in meditation. Throughout the year Buddhists and tourists regularly visit his mausoleum chanting his mantra “namu daishi henjo kongo”.  (this is a kind of Buddhist Hallelujah).

For us, we fall under the category of tourist.  Loving the beauty of this island, we intend to see as much of it as we can, join in with the locals and learn more about this fascinating country.

I have never know of such a place, a town built so high, over 900 ft from the ground.

Home to over 100 temples.  We wanted to make this visit to Koyasan as special as possible, so booked ourselves a room in a temple for the night.

When we lived in Korea, we took the opportunity to do a temple stay, where we took part in the daily rituals of the monks.  We ate with them, prayed with them and meditated from early morning until mid afternoon.  We were surrounded by nothing but nature.  It was a truly magical experience.

I expected something quite similar in our trip to Koyasan, but to my surprise we were treated like royalty.  A five-star experience.  Refreshing ourselves in a beautiful on site onsen looking out to the cedar trees and gardens before being escorted down to the dining room for a 10 course vegan dinner.  Our room was beautifully furnished and spacious in the style of  the traditional Japanese Ryokan with tatami mats and futons.  This part of our trip really made it for us.  Great bonding time with our friends.  Simply relaxing.

Sorry guys, I just couldn’t resist posting this one 😀

Through the day we joined in a buddhist ceremony where we chanted the mantra as I mentioned earlier following some other buddhist rituals.  Even if you are not religious or if you follow a different religion, you can still enjoy the unique cultural experience.

This break was exactly what we needed.   The perfect wind down from such a chaotic working life.

Osaka was next, nothing but indulgence… I love it!   Just take a look at the deliciousness, it speaks volumes of what happened during the rest of our trip;

Food porn at it’s best 😉

on the left is a macha (powdered green) tea ice cream float

on the right is a coconut ice cream black tea float.

My belly is feeling rather jelly like now.  Not surprising considering…hmmm…must do something about that.

In that case… posts to follow will consist of purely summer foods low in calories and naughty fats, but high in nutrition and deliciousness.   I promise!   Well give or take a birthday cake or two 😉

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Green Tea is not just for drinking.


What drink solves all your problems when you feel you need a pick me up any time of the day?

This week has seen litres of green tea pass my lips.  I can’t seem to get enough of it.  Surprisingly enough I have been craving it more than wine or gin or the multitude of alcoholic drinks I seem to regularly poison my body with.

I wish green tea was just as popular back in the UK as it is here.  I have almost taken for granted how lucky I am to have it practically on tap here.  I’d better get stocking up now so I can send home a years worth to see me through my masters.

I love this tea so much.  I drink it hot, cold, I bake with it and even bathe in it…well…not my whole body, just my face.

Facial toners are always full of ingredients and chemicals and are often very expensive and harsh on your skin.  At least when I’m in scotland I have the option of reading labels to see which products to avoid. Unfortunately though, in Japan I don’t have that luxury of being able to understand everything I read.

Often you’ll find brands advertising their products with the selling point that it contains green tea or Aloe or both.   It is common for people to apply aloe straight to your skin, so why not do the same with freshly brewed green tea (chilled of course)?

Ok, If you do decide to do this, it will have to be fresh as it doesn’t contain preservatives, but considering I drink it every day, it isn’t much to save a little for my face too.

As you probably already know green tea is high in anti-oxidants.  It’s powerul benefits are written all over the internet telling us that  it inhibits the growth of cancer cells, lowers total cholesterol levels.  It also protects skin from free radical damage.  Apparently it is helpful for all skin types too.  Perfect for me as my skin is annoyingly sensitive to everything.   I have also read that green tea helps burn calories faster (perfect for all those dieters out there).  It is also supposed to kill bacteria found in dental plaque, preventing tooth decay.   In saying that it also stains your teeth, however all the goodness out weighs this problem for me.

It’s pretty obvious that this drink is good for you.   Even if you are one of those who are sceptical about all these types of stories you read on the net.  It won’t do you much wrong to indulge your body both in and out with a few cups.

For me I just love the taste and the feeling it gives me, the rest is just a bonus.

Here’s a little toning mixture I use on my skin every night I’d like to share with you:

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 tablespoons of fused green tea
  • 2.5 tablespoons of fused peppermint leaves (I find the peppermint adds that extra freshness)

Directions:

  1. Simply mix the infusions in a bottle then refrigerate.
  2. Use within 4-5 days

Aloe Energiser


The count down has started before my working life commences after a wonderfully relaxing and occasionally not so relaxing break.

Every hour is precious today, so an early start with an energising booster smoothie has set me on my way.

Recipe (serves 2)

  • 1/2 tub tofu
  • 8 tbsp fresh aloe gel
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup spring water
  • a few cubes of ice in each glass
  • 1 cup strawberries (chopped)

Directions

  1. Simply put all ingredients into the blender and mix until smooth
  2. If you want to make the mixture a little more creamy add a little soy milk to the mixture and blend together.
  3. Divide between 2 cold ice filled glassed and serve