Postcard Skies, Temps in the Low 60’s, No Rain–That’s Fall in Japan, Y’all!

Finding Peace in Chaos: JAPANIC! Retreat Oct/Nov 2024THIS RETREAT IS FULL. Please get in touch if you want to be an “alternate” or are interested in joining us in 2025.

Note: We have added Hiroshima and Hakone to the itinerary and extended it by one day.

Wanna go to Japan? Based on the statistics, your answer is probably “yes!” Japan is one of the world’s top destinations for 2024/25 according to numerous travel sources. The question then becomes how do you want to go to Japan?

There are lots of vacation packages out there by Japanese travel agencies, but do you really want old Japanese guys dictating what you see? I once ran into a school group from the US visiting a temple. When I asked them if they were hitting the beach later, they looked confounded, “What, there’s a beach?” Enough said.

Or, do you want to “wing it” and rely on TikTok and Instagram influencers, Google, etc. and hope for the best? Here’s the thing, your Google Maps doesn’t work so well with all those mountains and skyscrapers. You’ll have to walk about half a city block in the wrong direction before you know it’s the wrong direction. Then you’ll be forced to ask for directions in English or Google Translator.

You may not know Japanese people have an ingrained fear of not having the right answer (blame the school system). They’ll likely guess if they don’t know out of embarrassment. Or, they’ll wave you away frantically, as many dread encounters with foreigners, especially once you get out of city centers–where you need their help the most! So if you want to go “off the beaten path” with zero language skills, plan on A LOT of extra time just getting around.

So if neither of the above sounds like a plan, then what you may be looking for is a YogaHotDish Bold Venture. There are many versions of Japan, so what I can guarantee is that I’ll show you my best version. My version comes from three years of living, studying, and working in Japan. Sure, I taught a bit of English, but then I moved on to manage a Wall Street software company. I’ve done Japan on $50 day – $500 day. I’ve lived in 4 different neighborhoods and at 4 different socio-economic levels.

I was blessed to be mentored by a Japanese businesswoman who owned property all over the city, plus a retreat in Hakone which I visited frequently. She taught me everything, from how to speak some “high Japanese” to how to argue with taxi drivers! I also got to experience her Japan, the Japan of a woman who was a teenager during WW 2, a rare female business owner in the go-go 80’s, and a somewhat struggling property owner after the real estate bubble burst in the 90’s — that’s a lot of Japans!

Sure, we’ll visit the requisite temples and shrines, but we won’t overdo it at the expense of everything else. There’s also a very modern Japan brimming with art, pop culture, and nightlife. That’s what those old guys at the travel agency don’t understand. Of course, that’s the only thing the Instagram / TikTok crowd knows; but, the second they post it, forget it–swarms of tourists!

So all I can offer you is what I do in yoga: make an educated attempt to blend the best of the traditional with the best of the modern, marinate it all in a rich zen sauce, then serve it up with humor and heart!

Interested? Please get in touch. This trip isn’t for everyone though. You’ll need to travel with JUST a carry-on and daypack; you’ll need to be up for 20,000 steps per day. You’ll need to be comfortable in both higher-end and lower-end accommodations. In Japan, location trumps comfort. Logistics are everything.

JAPANIC! RETREAT Dates: WED  OCT 23 – WED  NOV 7, 2024. That means you DEPART USA on OCT 23 and ARRIVE on Thursday, Oct 24th. The MSP crowd will be arriving around 2:30 pm at HANEDA airport (avoid Narita). If you’re not flying w/ us, don’t worry. You need only get on the monorail and I’ll sherpa you to the hotel! |

Cost: I am charging a flat fee per person–no “mark-ups” = full transparency! Including airfare (currently $2k), estimate $6K (depending on spending $ and Tokyo accommodation choice) / two weeks, 5 major cities. So, that’s $2000/week, or under $300 /day, double occupancy. Besides, you know I’m gonna track that Delta flight and try to repurchase on a fare dip!

TOKYO Dates: check-in THURS OCT 24, check-out MON OCT 28

It’s not all temples and shrines!

Choice #1 is a property I call, “Dorm Room on Park Avenue.” Plan on $75 for a shared twin, $100 single. Most of these rooms are already spoken for. I had to reserve them to secure them, so you would reimburse me. Quality buffet breakfast included. This is where we can dollar-cost-average down!

Choice #2 is a gorgeous upscale property 20 mins away on foot, 5 mins by cab, from #1. Cost is around $280/night for a double queen room ($140 each). Back in the day, the rooms were up around $800/night, so it’s a great opportunity to stay in a historical upscale location, lots of surrounding green space. You would make your own reservations, then likely meet us in the AM at property #1 (more central). You could also partake of location #1’s fabulous breakfast buffet for around $10, vs $40 back at your hotel.  

Contact me for a list of experiences in Tokyo! And yes, there will be studio yoga, beach yoga, and zazen meditation!


Leave Tokyo Monday, Oct 28  and head to Kyoto via BULLET train. (plan around $100-200 for bullet train).
KYOTO Dates: check-in MON OCT 28 – check-out FRI NOV 1 

$10 Sushi Lunch–Better Than The Most Upscale Sushiyas in Mpls!

What I need to know: do you want to do Hiroshima? We could do it as a rather long day trip, or stay overnight in a “package” tour situation.If so, we’d maybe check-out of KYOTO on Thursday and into a hotel near the Hiroshima shrine for Thursday night. Either way, we’d be leaving the area on Friday, Nov 1st.

Considering various Kyoto properties based on price/convenience/location. Yes, you’ll hit all the highlights: Ryonangi (rock garden), Gold and Silver Pavilions, Philosophers Walk, Nijo Castle, etc. Additionally, you could maybe purchase a hand-crafted kitchen knife (mail back home) from an ancient samurai family that’s not on the internet, have the Best Ramen of your life, etc. And yes, I’ll give you the history of all things geisha over dinner and drinks on the Kamo River!

In Japan, Ramen is a Meditation! Shhh.

Leave Kyoto Friday, Nov 1st for Hakone by BULLET train (cheaper than above)
Hakone Dates: check-in FRI NOV 1, check-out SUN NOV 3 

Fujiya Hotel En Route to Hakone 1993. Tokyo was the World’s Most Expensive City from 1992-2013.

Weaving and dodging tourists will be the order of the day. We may only end up staying one night in Hakone, depending on the hotel situation (MUCH better value in not-too-far Kamakura). The main thing you need to see/do is the Open Air Art Museum–not the cheesy lake cruise. There’s also one of the oldest original tea houses on the post road we can visit if time. Hakone is about “luxuriating” more than doing (a point often missed by Westerners), so a place with a proper onsen (outdoor bath) and on-property dining is key. BTW, onsens are separated by gender.

Kamakura Dates: check-in SUN Nov 3, check-out WED Nov 6th, fly home from Haneda Airport. 

I am working on booking a LUXURY property directly in which case you would reimburse me; it may cost as little as $100/ night for two people! Transit to Haneda Airport with possible lunch in Yokohama.  MSP Delta flight leaves around 5:30 pm. Why Kamakura? Please see my blog post, Buddhas, Beaches, and Badasses! Interested? Email shailayoga{@} ASAP and let me know if you need a roommate.

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