Do I have to be religious?
No. We expect all our visitors to be respectful of the practices that we teach, but people from all faiths, and none, are all welcome to take part.
Is this open to men and women?
Yes. The Japanese program that we offer has a mix of about 50/50 men and women.
How fit do I have to be?
You should be fit enough to hike for at least one whole day.
What can I remember this by?
You will receive a commemorative amulet to certify that you have completed your training. You will also be able to keep your Shime necklace.
What language support is there?
The experience is mostly non-verbal, and conducted in silence, but basic instructions and support will be given in English by the support guide throughout the training.
How far do we walk each day?
The furthest you will hike in one day is 8 kilometers (5 miles), from an elevation of 1450m (4750ft.) to 1984m (6500 ft.) over 9 hours.
How hard is the climbing?
At times, the hike involves climbing on your hands. There are also ladders that you will be required to climb up and down.
What if I need to use to the bathroom?
There will be at least one toilet break every two hours, however there are only limited opportunities to use the toilets in the mountains, so we will advise you when it is a good time to use the toilet.
How fast do I need to walk?
We will adjust the pace to the participant's level.
What if I don't feel well enough to climb the mountain?
You might be asked to stay behind at Daishōbō while other participants continue their training. Proper medical assistance is immediately available if necessary.
Why do I have to bring a swimsuit?
Female participants will be recommended to wear a swimsuit on days that we do waterfall meditation. This is to protect your privacy, and to make it easy for you to change out of wet clothing. A two-piece swimsuit is to make it easier to walk in.
What time should I arrive?
The latest possible train before your training leaves Tokyo at 6:08am, and arrives in Tsuruoka at 10:18am.
The latest possible flight before your training is ANA Flight 395, leaving Tokyo Haneda* at around 11am (the flight time fluctuates), arriving in Shonai around 12pm. Please double-check that your flight is from Tokyo Haneda Airport, NOT Tokyo Narita Airport.
We recommend arriving in Japan as early as possible to minimize the effects of jet lag. We are happy to arrange accommodation for you in Tsuruoka at your own cost if you wish to come earlier.
What time can I leave?
Of course, we would like you to stay behind to check out other parts of the Shonai region after your training, however the earliest possible train back to Tokyo is at 4:17pm, arriving in Tokyo at 8:12pm. The earliest flight back to Tokyo from Shonai is ANA 400, leaving at around 5:45pm, and arrives at around 6:45pm (the flight time fluctuates).
We are also happy to arrange accommodation for you in Tsuruoka at your own cost should you wish to stay in the region longer.