Magical Laughing, Happily Eating, Amazing Onsen, Cherry Blossom Festival Retreat
On April 4, 2017, 7 members of the Cealo family from the United States travelled to Okayama, Japan for a retreat at Cealo’s new home temple. By the time the retreat concluded on April 11th, we were the happiest group of people. Every day, His Holiness surprised us with so many wonderful and healing experiences. Each day was filled with fun, food, love, visits to local Onsen, parks, temples, shrines, Cherry Blossom Trees, THE Zen Garden, and talks with Cealo. Participants included Eric and Katie who also provided much support and coordination as co-hosts throughout the entire experience. We are very grateful to them for all their effort. Additional participants included Bora and Lark from LA, Jennifer from Chicago, Sole from Austin, and Lisa from Maryland. We were escorted on all of our adventures by Amica-san, Kyoko-san, Mayo-san, Win-san, and Gat-san. We were supported by so many others including Kabako-san (our resident Chef), Saitomi-san (our resident musician), Reina-san, and many more Cealo friends and family who volunteered as they could during the week and weekend. We are very grateful to all of you and we want you to know we are very healthy and happy after our most Magical Laughing, Happily Eating, Amazing Onsen, Cherry Blossom Festival Retreat.
Here’s the team starting off on the first day. Of course, in early April, the Cherry Blossom trees were in full bloom and they shared all of their glory with us the entire trip.
Our retreat started with a visit to a local Shinto Shrine where everyone paid their respects to the Earth, Sky, Water, Land, ancestors, and of course, the Cherry Blossom trees.
Domo Arigato Amica-san for taking these wonderful group pictures!
This visit to the Shinto Shrine was followed by the traditional Cherry Blossom Festival picnic under the Cherry Blossom trees.
One of the things we all remember the most, besides the beautiful Cherry Blossoms everywhere of course, is the laughter. It started with Bora on day 1. Something Cealo said to us during our first evening gathering made Bora laugh like he had never laughed in years. By day 3, everyone was laughing. It was the simplest of things that would set us off on a laughing spree. For example, after eating some delicious sushi at the restaurant of Amica-san’s Mom, Mayo-san was driving us back to Cealo’s new home temple and something she said got the whole car full of people laughing uncontrollably. So, we have lovingly dubbed this retreat as the Magical Laughing, Happily Eating, Amazing Onsen, Cherry Blossom Festival Retreat. We are very happy to reminisce about our journey, and we wanted to share with you, our extended Cealo family, and with the world our enduring joy. His Holiness gave us so much loving energy during our retreat. He and Amica-san invited us to visit “our home” anytime. Every day was full of wonderful surprises. His instructions to us were to be ourselves, not be so critical of ourselves, to be happy and shine bright, to support everyone in our life, not to worry about politics. He said we all have angel wings and when we worry our big and beautiful angel wings get really small.
Every day, each activity we engaged in became a kind of meditation. Even when we had a cooking class or baking class, and we received some additional instructions on how to use our professional knives, our daily activities gave us an opportunity to practice being present, in the moment, with our energy focused, intentional and purposeful.
Here's the bread making master, Win-san, operating the brick oven that he helped to build!
We also had a delightful cookout with so much food!
We had so much delicious food. Every day was a new culinary delight. We even got to continue our overflowing gratitude for culinary delights when we were offered the opportunity to bring home some amazing strawberry jam! Every meal was easily rated at 5 STARS!
Each day of the retreat, in addition to the fun, beautiful delicious food, laughter and amazing loving energy from His Holiness, we were blessed with the opportunity to experience a different onsen. We never visited the same one twice! In total, during the week we were in Japan, we visited a total of 6 different onsen. They were all wonderful. Some were large, some were small. All were within a 30-minute drive from Cealo’s new home temple. We also visited the spectacular and breathtaking beauty of the Korakuen Garden.
We had the most delightful experience of enjoying Sakura DaiFuku and green tea in the park!
The coy fish were so large and friendly, an incredible sight!
They were so large we got to “pet” the fish! What an incredible experience!
Many thanks to Bora who gifted us with some of this stunning photography of the Korakuen Garden!
Our time in Japan during this retreat was so filled with laughter and love. We became so happy and light hearted. It was such a joy, too, to get to know our Japanese family better and we continued to learn Japanese and gained some new Japanese words (Hidari=Left, Migi=Right, Ichigo=Strawberry, Momo=Peach, Sakana=Fish, Sakura=Cherry Blossom).
Our final day was filled with even more joys and delights. After visiting the onsen, we had an amazing meal. This fish was encased in salt the previous day and marinated overnight. Jennifer, whose birthday was closest to the actual date, got to do the honor of breaking the encasement. Here she is holding the ceremonial hammer. This was the MOST delicious fish we have ever eaten! Thank you fish for bringing us so much joy and nourishment. Before we ate, we gave thanks to this fish, for the sacrifice of this fish, it has its own consciousness, and we are grateful to have been supported by its life.
In addition to this amazing fish, our 5-star chef, Kabako-san shown in this picture on the right, made 3 of the most amazing deserts for our last day.
Saki anyone? Compai!
Now that we’ve had some liquid courage, let’s see if we can make Cealo laugh.
Pen + Apple = Applepen 😊
Following our farewell gathering and celebration with Cealo, we were gifted with a beautiful and mystical experience of witnessing a Yoga Master perform in the Zen Garden accompanied by the ethereal music of Saitomi-san and Kyoko-san.
THE Zen Garden at Cealo’s new temple home is so beautiful! Many of the retreat participants enjoyed walking meditation in this garden and some received the highest energy and vibration sweeping THE Zen Garden.
Here is Reina-san performing in THE Zen Garden with a breeze blowing, energy flowing, and the Shigonsen Train roaring through in the background!
Diving in the Divine
In the loving eyes of the master
In the million stars of the night sky
In the non-stoppable laughter
Seeing the divine in everyday life
Through the eyes of the master
Diving in the Divine
~Poetry by Lark
Here are the 2 amazing angels, Kyoko-san and Saitomi-san, who supported us throughout the entire retreat. Saitomi-san, a professional pianist, accompanied by Kyoko-san on her crystal bowl, gifted us with their healing and uplifting energy and music.
We will always have the happiest of memories and be filled with joy and gratitude for our Magical Laughing, Happily Eating, Amazing Onsen, Cherry Blossom Festival Retreat.
Next time, we hope you will join us! Come on, let’s go! You can do it!
Watch for announcements! Cealo may be coming to the Chicago area in the Fall!