Japanese Wellness – 9 rituals and practices

Japanese Wellness, also known as J-Wellness is becoming a huge trend amongst health and wellness enthusiasts and experts. However, their wellness rituals and practices are rooted in ancient wisdom and have withstood the test of time.

The Japanese people have the highest life expectancy in the world – 87 years for women and 81 years for men. Their average lifespan keeps increasing – in 2019 there were over 2.3 million Japanese aged 90 and over 71000 centenarians.

Have the Japanese discovered the fountain of youth?

In this article we will explore their unique health and wellness practices and dive into their enticing rituals.  

Japanese wellness rituals and practices

The Japanese people have a number of daily rituals and practices that stem from centuries of ancient wisdom. They are known for eating a low-calorie diet, rich in carbohydrates, fresh seafood, tofu, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Restraint is a big part of their lifestyle but they do enjoy an occasional snack or a cup of sake, an alcoholic rice beverage. Rather than overindulging or being too strict, they strive to strike a balance in pretty much everything they do. Read on to learn about their rituals that are probably the secret to their longevity, harmonious lives and mind-body-soul synergy.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1

Chado Tea ceremony

Japanese tea ceremony known as sadō/chadō (茶道) “The Way of Tea” is a ceremonial preparation and consumption of green tea or its powdered form known as matcha.

Influenced by Zen Budhism, this ceremony is an important part of Japanese culture.

The preparation involves a meditative, calm and mindful attitude, which requires full presence and a respectful heart.

The consumption is done with grace and gratitude.

The sacred ritual of drinking tea is done without distractions, loud chatter or phones.

CHAPTER 2

Onsen

Onsen is the Japanese name for hot spring rituals.

Japan has a number of active volcanoes and a long history of thermal bathing.

The plentiful springs contain distinctive minerals or chemicals including sulphur, sodium chloride, hydrogen carbonate and iron. Soaking in natural mineral springs has many health benefits. It is also done in a respectful and mindful manner.

Washing before entering the onsen is essential, swimsuits are not allowed (except in large water parks), towels are only used to cover your body when walking between the baths and washing area and noise is prohibited.

These bath rituals are an important part of Japanese wellness.

CHAPTER 3

Jiriki

Jiriki, or one’s own strength, is a Japanese Buddhist term for self-power.

It is the ability to achieve liberation through acknowledging and embracing your own truth.

A great example of jiriki is the practice of meditation where one observes the body by following the breath and practicing non-attachment to whatever arises.

The practice of self-power teaches that the only one standing in your way is yourself.

Meditation is used as a means of connecting to our own power, truth and alignment, without the external influence or testimony of other people.

CHAPTER 4

Kaizen

Kaizen literally translates to improvement and is a concept used in business activities, healthcare and psychotherapy.

First practiced after WWII, kaizen was used as a means to eliminate redundancies and waste. Nowadays this small-step work improvement can be implemented in any situation.

Small but regular actions of improvement lead to great positive change.

In conclusion, Kaizen is an excellent example of how challenging yourself every day to make small changes can lead to establishing healthier habits.

CHAPTER 5

Shinrin-yoku

Shinrin-yoku is the ritual of forest bathing. It involves a high level of presence and mindfulness therefore is considered a form of nature therapy with numerous health benefits.

Spending time in forests can improve your mood, raise your focus levels and be especially beneficial to the immune and cardiovascular systems.

Shinrin-yoku is usually practiced alone and obviously without distractions.

Full presence is achieved through witnessing the constant ebb and flow of life for instance by noticing different textures, colors and smells.

CHAPTER 6

Hara Hachi Bu

Hara Hachi Bu translates to “Eat until you are eight parts (out of ten) full”. It is probably one of the most important secrets to living a long and healthy life.

The concept is fairly simple, you eat until you are 80% full, meaning you stop eating while you still feel like you could eat more. This retraining of the stomach (and mind) is a great way to improve digestion and promote better overall health.

Choosing smaller bowls and plates can also trick the mind into thinking it is getting plenty of food.

Being mindful and eating slowly is also an important part of the ritual.

CHAPTER 7

Wabi-Sabi

Wabi-Sabi is the art of embracing imperfection and finding beauty in asymmetry, simplicity and impermanence. It stems from the ancient Buddhist concept of Three Marks of Existence which involve impermanence, suffering and emptiness.

The practice of Wabi-Sabi involves a mindful acceptance of imperfections in any form. It can be practiced in both easy and hard life circumstances.

Japanese wellness is about finding beauty in the simple, everyday things that we so often taken for granted.

Moreover, Wabi-Sabi is an amazing form of retraining your mind to be at peace with everything life has to offer.

CHAPTER 8

Shukanka

Shukanka is the practice of developing new, healthy habits. It is done by practicing simple tasks, similar to Kaizen, over and over again until a new habit is formed.

Shukanka is a lifelong practice of forming new habits through patience and balance. It is also done in a mindful and disciplined manner, taking small steps each and every day.

These new habits therefore serve the purpose of improving both your life and health. 

CHAPTER 9

Yuima-ru

Yuima-ru translates to your circle or the circle of the people. It is an ancient tradition originating from the island of Okinawa.

The concept refers to having a strong circle of positive people around you. It is also centred around the idea of unity, compassion and sincerity for other people, no matter their background or cultural, racial and societal differences.

CHAPTER 10

Ikigai

Ikigai is the Japanese concept of having a life purpose and direction.

The practice of Ikigai can be used for both the betterment of society and the betterment of self.

For the older generation ikigai is usually connected to company and family, while the younger generations generally find it through “dreams of what they might become in the future” according to anthropologist Chikako Ozawa-de Silva.

One way to discover your ikigai is for instance through writing down your values, things you like to do and things you’re good at.

Adapt your ikigai in a way that it’s timeless, meaning you will still have it no matter whether you’re a working professional, a parent or retired.

Takeaway

The Japanese people are often associated with their artful culture, otherworldly discipline, admirable sense of integrity and ethereal spiritual wealth.

Their rich culture and spiritual life are rooted in ancient as well as timeless wisdom.

By practising these Japanese wellness rituals on a daily basis, we have the amazing opportunity to not only dive into their rich culture but improve our own lives along the way too.

Do you practice any of these concepts and rituals?

Have you ever visited Japan?

Or maybe it’s on your bucket list?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

Leave a Reply