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Welcome to my blog!

If you are in for an adventure paired with lengthy, quirky, brutal honest thoughts then you are in the right place.

My name is Arisa and was a cosplayer for 12 years in Malaysia before settling down in Kyoto, Japan. Exploring Japan full time has been a long time dream of mine, so let's explore it together!
For sponsorship, collaborations and engagements: arisa1443@gmail.com

Finding yourself in Japan with Hikone Dharmakur

Many come to Japan seeking to learn more about themselves through travel, experiencing life outside their comfort zone, etc. And along the lines of this self-discovery journey, many also neglect to realize that they are missing an important aspect essential for human growth – “self-care”. This is one of the main reasons why people break down despite constantly reassuring themselves that “everything is fine”; just because mental and physical health issues can’t be seen with the naked eye, does not mean it doesn’t exist.

I too was (and still am) a victim of this vicious cycle that I’ve subconsciously created for myself in the name of “busy & YOLO lifestyle” and in many ways affected my quality of life, from not getting proper restful sleep (sleeping X hours a day but still tired), digestion issues (from bad to worst), lymph nodes isn’t working how it is supposed to and more. Plus, once you’ve passed your 20s, your body starts to work slightly differently, it’s one of those things no one prepares you for so it’s definitely an unpleasant shock.

If you find yourself resonating with this confession, know that you are not alone and there is a solution for it; and it starts with making a conscious effort to put yourself and health first. It sounds hard, but do it for the long run because health isn’t something you can buy back whenever you feel like it.

Part of my self-care routine, like everyone else, involves making time to get out of the city and catch some fresh air which is hard to get especially when we are living in densely populated cities like Kyoto and Tokyo.
Just 30-40 minutes away from Kyoto (via car or train), you’ll find a small and quiet city called Hikone in Shiga that is perfect for those looking to do a relaxing day excursion.

Where is Shiga Prefecture?

For those who aren’t familiar with Shiga, this prefecture is considered part of Kansai region and served as an important post town during the Edo period connecting the Nakasendo and Tokaido highway from Kyoto to Nagano and Tokyo. It is also home to Shigaraki, one of Japan's Six Ancient Kilns which you might recognize from the common Tanuki (Racoon dog) statues found outside homes and establishments in Japan; it symbolizes the invite of ‘luck and wealth’ and last but not least, Omi beef!

Who and What is Hikone Dharmakur?

Hikone Dharmakur is a wellness retreat established by founder Ms.Mina Okumura whose goal is to help guests rejuvenate from within and experience Japan’s first class hospitality.
Services offered here includes; private head spa session, Airsilk yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda Oil massage.
Located 10 minutes walking distance from Hikone Castle is Hikone Dharmakur, is built into a restored 100 year old traditional Japanese house (Kominka) which once served as a storehouse for Tokujiro Tange, a wealthy and established merchant whose family hailed from Omi, Shiga.

A large portion of the original house is retained, giving it a charming and rustic atmosphere. 

Aside from relaxing, guests are also able to immerse themselves in the rich cultural history this area has to offer. Little details all around this area allows for one to stop, observe and appreciate what time has left behind.

If you googled Airsilk yoga classes in Japan, it’s just a handful of options and most of them are limited to Tokyo. Despite it being a typical form of exercise option in other parts of the world, it is still considered relatively new to Japan thus making Hikone Dharmakur a pioneer in Kansai region.

I went in for a full session to help reset my body and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made for 2023; I didn’t realize how much I needed this and how just one half a day session made such an impact. If you are looking to try something unique during your stay in Japan, this has got to be one of them.

Welcome Tea, Consultation & Meditation

Upon arriving, I was greeted warmly by the staff and served with fragrant earthy tasting Mandokoro Hirabancha (type of tea) which is made using the same methods as 600 years ago! The consultation sheet is available in both Japanese and English which is accommodating to foreign visitors. This sheet allows practitioners to learn of your lifestyle and concerns before recommending suitable services/ treatments for it.

Airsilk Aerial Yoga Session

After a brief breathing and meditation session, I was introduced to a room with beautiful colourful silks hanging from the ceiling beams which is used for the Airsilk Aerial Yoga session. To be very honest I’ve never done this in my life, plus I’m afraid of heights and clumsy too but with the careful and patient guidance of Mina-san, I’m proud to announce that I’ve successfully completed a full session of it. I’ve also learned a lot more about my body which I never thought was possible through airsilk yoga and it’s making me consider signing up for monthly classes now.

Remember how I’ve used to complain about severe bloating and constipation issues on my IG stories? This actually helped a lot to get things moving despite the initial pain caused by my obstructed lymphatic system. Each session is uniquely catered to the participant, so you won’t see similar routines.

Ayurveda treatment

Next, after all the muscle stretching, I was ushered to the Kura Salon for the Ayurveda treatment, a type of holistic ‘purification’ therapy hailed from India and Sri Lanka. A Kura is a type of storehouse originally used to store valuable items, whilst most of the original exterior is preserved, the inside was renovated into a relaxing and intimate salon.

Ayurveda is a detailed step by step treatment that focuses on important areas of the body to promote anti-aging effects, improve overall immunity and blood circulation. This was so relaxing that I felt myself drifting into sleep almost immediately, the sounds in my head and endless train of thoughts just went silent throughout the whole duration of the session.

I also walk a lot on a daily basis and occasionally hike up mountains for work to scout for locations so this created a lot of tension and stress on my leg muscles which lead to swelling, the therapist did an amazing job targeting those areas and I could immediately feel the relief right after the session.

Private Head Spa with Angelic care

The last treatment is a private headspa session which focuses on scalp and hair scare. It starts off with a deep cleanse using tansan water to remove all impurities such as dust, grime and stubborn excess oil that can’t be easily removed by normal shampooing alone. This allows treatments to properly penetrate into the scalp and encourage new hair growth which I’m all about because after going through 2 rounds of postpartum hair loss, I definitely needed this.

I did address some initial concerns about my bright hair colour fading from the deep cleansing but Mina-san assured me that she’ll be extra careful with it as she is after all a professional hairstylist too;  My hair was brought back from the “dead” and looks even more vibrant after the session!

Feeling all clean, fresh and soft, it reminded me of the importance of going for deep cleansing sessions at least once a month because a clean and healthy scalp means lesser hair loss issues.

Mina-san is also a certified Angelic care instructor, a type of comb like tool used to massage and “crack” hair for correction/ control hair growth flow and it’s mind-blowing to see how my stubborn fringe issue was easily resolved after a few strokes! So if you have a stubborn hairline issue, you might want to give Angelic care a try.

It’s definitely a unique and non-invasive treatment with results lasting up to 2-5 weeks; it is also encouraged to follow up for longer lasting results.

The session ended with a final hand massage and refreshments of organic coffee and locally sourced dark chocolate was served.

This whole entire half day care session left me feeling so refreshed and productive for the next couple days without any issues and it’s been a long while since I felt this way. Think I should schedule another session soon after my busy period is over. I hope this post inspires you to try something different while traveling Japan and also explore lesser known areas.

Hikone Dharmakur is also open to private reservations, like for company bonding and retreat, girl’s day out, etc as their Kominka can accommodate a decent size group per session. Kindly contact them for more details and reservations.


Website: https://dharmah-kur.com/en/

Address: 2-2-38 Honmachi, Hikone-shi, Shiga Prefecture

Near Castle Road in downtown Hikone
Across the street from the Kyobashikuchi Parking Lot (far end)
About 20 mins on foot from JR Hikone Station

Yours Truly,
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