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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Japan Travel Diary: Kamakura & Nikko

This is a continuation from the previous post - click here
We kept Tokyo as our base and did day trips on the last 2 days of our journey, to Kamakura and Nikko - which is a UNESCO world heritage site. These 2 cities do have good hotels to stay if you want to explore the place more, but we were quite happy just spending a day each.
The fastest and best way to reach Kamakura is by train. While you are in Japan use the trains everywhere. They are super fast and super easy!! Take the JR Yokosuka line from Tokyo station which takes about 90 mins. If you feel adventurous then get down at Kita Kamakura then you can trek down the next 2 places till you reach The Great Buddha statue, Daibutsu. It may take about 3 hours. While we were there it was raining due to Typhoon, so we chose not to trek and changed over to the Enoden train line to see the Buddha statue. Daibutsu statue has it own charm. You can just sit there and keep looking at the peaceful Buddha and you won't realize how time flies. The energy of the place is very positive, peaceful and serene. If you are going all the way to Tokyo then I highly suggest visiting this statue; energetically it can contribute a lot to your life :)

There are 3 really beautiful Zen temples near Kita Kamakura station (Engakuji, Kenchoji, Tokeiji) and the most important Shinto shrine - Hachimangu shrine and the Hasedera temple near the Buddha statue. These are a must see. Engakuji is right behind the train station and it is surrounded by a canopy of lush green trees as it built on the slopes of the forest trails. The moment we entered the temple it felt like the temperature dropped down by 2 degrees. It is extremely peaceful and truly Zen like (pun intended) inside!

Engakuji Zen Temple Main Gate
If the weather is good and you love beaches then you can continue your journey all the way to Enoshima on the Enoden train line where there are popular beaches for surfers. But we skipped it due to lack of time and not so favourable weather.


Nikko is a world heritage site which is about 125kms north of Tokyo and can be easily covered in a day trip. Again, the easiest and fastest way to reach is by taking the Asakusa line from Tokyo/Ginza station to Asakusa station. From here, there are hourly rapid trains to Nikko which take about 2 hours. There are also few limited express trains which take only 105 mins, if you want to reach faster.

All of Nikko's shrines and temples are clustered around the Nikko main station. So we just took a bus from the station and got down 10 mins away and explored everything on foot for the next 4-5 hours.
The temples are worth a visit and the carvings and gold colour decorations are extremely intricate and very impressive! It is a treat to the eyes. Some of these temples allow you to go inside the prayer room and there will be a monk to explain the history/culture inside. If you can understand Japanese then you can follow him else you can just admire the beauty inside (like we did) ;-)

If you keep sufficient time (shops usually close by 4pm), then on your way back to the bus stop to go to the train station, you can do a lot of shopping in Nikko. Apart from the usual good luck charms and souvenirs, you get a wide variety of green tea, ceramics, incense sticks, kimonos, antiques and more!

Don't forget to visit this famous red bridge. I have no idea why it is famous or why you need to buy a ticket to walk on it, but nevertheless, when in Rome be a Roman! :)

The temperature in Nikko can be much cooler compared to Tokyo, so make sure you carry some warm clothes if you are on a day trip (lesson learnt from experience!). Nikko also has some traditional Ryokans, Japanese guest houses if you wish to spend a night there but I felt a day was good enough to explore the entire place.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Being the Gift that You are

Just a couple of days back I did an interesting exercise, where I picked about 25+ people who know me pretty well - among friends, clients, acquaintances and asked them some of these questions about me.
What am I an invitation for you? What is it about me that invited you to choosing my classes/sessions?
What about me do you enjoy and like the most?
What is it that is unique and different about me that you connected with?
What space and energy did I create that allowed you to shift and change and choose a different possibility for you?
I had no expectation of what should come out of this and I was literally bowled over by the comments/feedback that I received! Sometimes we just assume that who we be, what we do and what we contribute to people around is a very common trait and everyone else probably functions the same way, so we take ourselves and our talents/abilities/gifts for granted and never acknowledge that we are unique, definitely different and what a gift we are being to everyone around us.
Interestingly all 25+ people I asked these questions to, had 2 things in common to say - (i) that they don't feel judged when they are with me, which gives them the space to be who they are without judging themselves and (ii) that I embrace a very feminine nurturing energy in my classes & sessions which is assertive but not aggressive and this is what created the space for them to choose greater possibilities and change. Wow! and some more wow! In these 30+ years of my life I had *never* acknowledged that this part of me was actually a gift and an invitation for people to choose change! I am so darn grateful for this!!!!
Doing this exercise changed a lot of things for me and shifted perspectives drastically. First of all I realized I am the one who least acknowledged my talents/capacities/unique gift that I have and be. Secondly, I learnt how to actually receive these flooding acknowledgements from people and their gratitude towards me, without getting overwhelmed. Thirdly, now that it has come to my cognitive awareness and I have fully acknowledge this, I am now being more of this and including this energy more in the invitation I am creating for people through my sessions, classes or just by BEING :-) Completely shifted my space and gratitude overflowing in my universe even at this moment. How did I get so freakin' lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful people?!
So how many of you truly acknowledge the contribution and gift that you be to the people around you, to this world, this planet?
What if what you be and what comes to you naturally and effortlessly is actually a unique talent/capacity/ability that you have that creates an invitation for others to change and choose something greater for themselves? Are you willing to acknowledge that TODAY?

Are you willing to be unique and different, even if that means to be seen as a weirdo?
What would it take for you to try this exercise and see what shows up and how it rocks your world? I am keen to hear what shifted for you. You can leave comments below if you choose to :)

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