The sangha trip of a lifetime: two weeks exploring sacred sites in Japan
updated 10/22 with more details about flights
Thanks to the tireless efforts of trip leader Kando Rei Greene, working with Nomon Tim Burnett, and in consultation with several other wonderful supporters, our Japan trip has become clear! Join with an intimate sangha group in exploring the Japanese origins of our tradition. While centered on our Sōtō Zen tradition the trip will feature multiple Japanese religious traditions and immerse us in Japanese culture for two very rich weeks of exploration and practice.
Total Cost: $2600 / person.
Dates: April 4 - 18, 2024
This cost includes pretty much everything during our two weeks together in Japan: lodging, most meals, in-country transportation, admissions fees, and costs of special events we'll do together.
Note that your airfare to Japan is not included. Bus transportation from Osaka Itami airport is Included if you fly into Osaka, Itami ITM, the international airport at the start of the trip. (Not Kansai KIX, sorry for any confusion.)
Arrive Osaka, Itami ITM airport, in time for our 8pm bus on April 4th. Note that due to the time change flying from North America you'll be leaving in the morning of April 3rd.
To take advantage of provided bus transport from our final stop at Hotel Hirashima in Katsura (Google Map) back to Osaka Itami airport on Thursday April 18th, book a flight leaving in the afternoon. Bus should arrive Osaka, Itami airport, by noon. Or stay the night in Osaka and leave on Friday morning.
Flights from Seattle:
We see flights on 3 airlines from Seattle that may work: All Nipon Airlines (ANA), Delta Airlines, and United Airlines. Checking in mid-October fares range from $1300 to $1800 with the cheaper flights generally taking longer, sometimes much longer - we recommend keeping an eye on total trip duration.
Tim and Raizelah booked the following flight on Delta. Care to join us?
Things to remember as you book your flight:
Leaving Seattle 11:15am Wednesday April 3rd on Delta flight 167
Arriving Tokyo-Haneda airport 2pm on Thursday April 4th.
3 hour layover in Tokyo.
Leaving Tokyo-Haneda at 5pm for a 6:10pm arrival on Thursday April 4th at Osaka-Itami. In time for 8pm pick up by our group bus.
(connecting flight is on All Nipon ANA but booked as part of the Delta Itinerary.)
1) Time change - due to the time change leaving on April 3rd gets you to Japan on the 4th
2) Travel time - pay attention to total length of the itinerary - flight searchs on the aggregator sites may list some with lower fared but you'll spend a LONG time getting there.
3) Which airport in Osaka - we're arranging group bus transport from Osaka Itami airport (ITM) but it's not difficult to get from Osaka Kansai (KIX) to Kyoto on public transit. If you see a flight that's better for you to KIX that is an option.
4) Share your Itinerary - let us know your travel plans once you have them!
Deposit: a $500 deposit holds your spot. This deposit is "semi-refundable": if you cancel and we are able to fill your spot we will refund your deposit. If we are unable to it cannot be refunded.
Completing your Payments:
There are two choices for paying the remaining $2100 to cover the costs of the Japan trip.
1) Start a 6-month payment plan (initial payment of $350 and then just under $300/month, no interest). You must start this payment plan by the end of October so that it will complete before we leave.
Start your Payment Plan
2) Pay the full amount of $2100 by March 1st, 2024. You may pay by credit card (just ask us to create an invoice) or if you are able to pay by check it will save us the 3% credit card processing fee. Mail your check to
Red Cedar Zen Community
P.O. Box 5193
Bellingham, WA 98227
Have questions? Please email the trip leaders at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
An Active Trip This trip does include walking and we will do our best to accommodate the bodies of all who wish to attend. Our Mt. Hiei tour and Kumano Kodo hiking pilgrimages involves walks (with day packs only) of 5 to 11 miles spread out over the day at a modest pace. Using local transport to reduce mileage is available in most cases. Please reach out to the trip leaders at email@example.com to discuss your needs.
Itinerary (follow the links for more details!)
0) April 3 - Fly to Japan. If meeting the group bus at Osaka Itami ITM airport flights leave Seattle or Vancouver mid-day on Wednesday April 3rd to arrive in Japan on Thursday evening (note the 12 hour time change).
1) April 4- flights arrive at Osaka Itami ITM airport in time to meet our chartered bus at 8pm taking us directly to our first hotel in Kyoto. Or arrive in country earlier and meet the group in Kyoto.
2) April 5 - 9 - Explore Kyoto's many temples including a visit to nearby Mount Hiei where Dogen ordained in 1215. Highlights include a day spent with Mitsunaga Endo Dai-Ajari, marathon monk of Mt. Hiei, and a day with American-born Rinzai Zen monk and translator Yuho Thomas Kirschner practicing zazen at his temple Tenryu-ji plus a visit to the Daitoku-ji subtemple that was run by Ruth Fuller Sasaki, the first Western woman ordained as a Zen monk in the 1958. We'll also experience several temples and important sites along the Philosopher's Path and visit Kennin-ji, the first Zen temple in Japan where Dogen trained before departing for China.
3) April 9-10 - Visit Eihei-ji, Dogen's temple and one of the two headquarters temple of Soto Zen in Japan. Our overnight stay will include a tour of the temple, experiencing Eihei-ji's morning service, and the opportunity to practice zazen in their guest zendo.
4) April 10-12 - Visit Rinso-in, Suzuki roshi's temple in Yaizu, staying and meeting with Hoitsu and Shungo Suzuki, Shunryu Suzuki's son and grandson and their families.
5) April 12-14 - Visit Koya-san, the beautiful mountain top headquarters temple of Shingon Buddhism where our friend Taijo Tanaka sensei of Seattle Koyasan temple trained. We will be staying at Rengejo-in, Taijo-san's master's temple.
6) April 14 - 17 - Kumano Kodo hiking pilgrimage where we'll hike most of the Nakahechi route visiting all three of the Grand Shrines. We'll spend 3 days hiking (with daypacks, overnighting at inns) on this sacred pilgrimage route with Buddhist and Shinto sacred sites.
7) April 18 - fly out of Osaka (or stay longer for personal touring!)
Reading lists will be provided and we also hope to have several pre-trip study and discussion meetings over Zoom to help us all have the most interesting and valuable trip we can. Details will follow. For now here are some initial suggestions.
Draft Pre-Trip Reading List Suggestions
Japanese Culture and Traditions via fiction
Snow Country - Yasunari Kawabata (1930s novel)
Double Suicide - Chika
Spring Snow - Yukio Mishima
Japanese Culture and History - non-fiction
Wrapping Culture - Joy Hendry- talks about layering of privacy and intimacy in Japanese culture
Wind in the Pine - tea ceremony as a Buddhist path, poetry, beautifully written
Japanese Buddhist Practice
Bow First, Ask Questions Later: Ordination, Love, and Monastic Zen in Japan - Gesshin Claire Greenwood and Brad Warner (good intro to Japanese Buddhist temple culture)
Eat Sleep Sit My Year at Japan's most Rigorous Zen Temple - Kaoro Nonomura (does show the harsh side of Zen training)
Japanese Religious Figures / History
Great Fool: Zen Master Ryōkan; Poems, Letters, and Other Writings - Ryokan, Ryuichi Abe
Essays in Idleness and Hojoki - Kenko, Chōmei