A retreat is a place where "people" return to "human" [Kameyama Onsen Retreat]
Hints for Living in Harmony with Nature from a Retreat Guru
Kameyama Onsen Hotel, a hot spring inn located in the middle of the Boso Peninsula by Lake Kameyama in Okuboso, launched a new brand "Kameyama Onsen Retreat" in December 2021. Taking advantage of the rich natural environment of Okuboso, the last unexplored region of Chiba Prefecture and a sacred place for retreats, Mr. Taiki Toyoshima, aka "Midoriman," a master of retreats, offers his guests a lake therapy full of awareness and healing in nature.
We asked Mr. Toyoshima, who hopes that visitors will experience a place where they can return from "people" to "human" through lake therapy such as bonfires, star gazing, and yoga on the shores of Kameyama Lake, about the appeal of the retreats proposed by "Kameyama Onsen Retreat" and the story behind the birth of the new brand.
● Table of contents
● Kameyama Onsen Retreat: The Birth Story
－Can you tell us about the background and how the brand "Kameyama Onsen Retreat" came into being?
Kameyama Onsen Hotel is a long-established ryokan established in 1950, and has been mainly targeting middle-aged and older customers for many years. 15 years ago, the hotel shifted its target to families, especially those with young children, to create a unique identity, and has been certified as a "Welcome Baby Inn" by Miki House. We have also been certified as a "Welcome Baby Inn" by Miki House. However, without further differentiation from other tourist attractions and onsen ryokan, it would be difficult to continue the business. This is why we focused on a new business: retreats in the dynamic natural setting of Kameyama Lakeside.
I have been the principal of Shikanoyama Nature School since 2014, producing nature experiences, naturopathic and other therapies, and outdoor and retreat projects throughout the country, so in May 2021, I submitted a business plan for the Turtle Island Onsen Retreat and started the retreat project at the Turtle Island Onsen-Hotel.
In August 2021, the glamping facility Glampark Kameyama Onsen will open on the grounds of Kameyama Onsen Hotel, allowing us to offer retreat plans not only to guests of Kameyama Onsen Hotel, but also to those using Glampark Kameyama Onsen. Therefore, it became necessary to unite the retreat business and create a unified brand that could be experienced at both facilities, and "Kameyama Onsen Retreat" was born.
● The Expert's Recommendation: The Distinctiveness of Kameyama Onsen Retreat
－Could you tell us about the brand concept of Kameyama Onsen Retreat?
In a nutshell, it is a place where people can return to being human.
Modern people's lifestyles have become increasingly distant from nature, and this has led to lifestyle-related diseases in terms of health and stress in terms of mental health. But even if we say, "Well, let's go back to nature," we are still living in cities where food, clothing, and shelter are provided for us as a matter of course. What we want people to experience is a regular return to nature, in other words, a retreat.
By returning to their natural form as "humans" through retreats to nature (translocation therapy), "humans" as social animals can regain their true selves, heal and gain various realizations, and encounter a new self in nature. We hope that the great nature of Okuboso Kameyama Lake will provide an opportunity to reconnect with nature.
－May I ask about the history of how you arrived at your view of "retreats," Mr. Toshima?
The starting point was when I was in the sixth grade and my father suffered a stroke due to overwork from being too involved in his work. I was born in Osaka and grew up in an outdoor family that enjoyed camping and overnight trips in the car on weekends. We lived a life cycle of weekdays in the city and weekends in nature, but when my father was transferred to Odawara, he developed an illness from overworking, and our lives changed drastically. The change in the scenery on weekends, which I enjoyed so much, imprinted a powerful original experience in my childhood mind: "One should never be separated from nature.
From this experience, I became interested in the relationship between illness and nature. Because my father's illness prevented me from going on to higher education, after graduating from high school I obtained numerous certifications related to therapists and became a therapist at "Thermes Marins Pacific," a thalassotherapy facility for translocation therapy, which was rare in Japan at the time. Later, after working as a ryokan revitalization manager in Izu and managing a nature school, he joined Kameyama Onsen Hotel, and now his life's work is to promote retreats.
－You must have had a very difficult experience.... Could you tell us about your commitment to the "Kameyama Onsen Retreat"?
Since this is not just a nature experience, but a "therapy" to help you regain yourself as a natural object, we try to help you feel a deep connection with nature through the experience.
For example, there are times when there are monkeys and they poo during the nature guide. After the monkeys are gone, we all poke around in their feces, and we find wild yam seeds and other things. The monkeys get food, and the mountain ash carries the seeds to the monkeys. So the monkey and the mountain ash are connected. Natural objects never exist alone. They always coexist with other natural things, and of course, humans are part of that circle. We are part of the cycle of nature, and we are kept alive in a diverse ecosystem. This is the characteristic of the Kameyama Onsen Retreat.
This is just my definition, but a retreat is a place where "people return to being human" by relocation. I would like to separate it from the type of trip where the status of the figure "human" in the city is taken directly into nature.
For example, instead of insecticides, insect nets are placed inside the glamping domes. In the glamping dome, for example, instead of insecticide, there are insect nets with the words, "Insects have their own role to play, so if you see one, please gently let it out. They are the first inhabitants here, and humans are the visitors. If we are conscious of coexisting with nature in this way, we can learn the wisdom of coexistence and co-prosperity, without excluding others who are different from us, even after we return to our "human" appearance in the city after the retreat.
To this end, I try to create a place where people can "reconnect" with nature that they have forgotten by using the knowledge of nature that they have acquired through running a nature school and the therapeutic techniques such as yoga and qigong that they have learned as a therapist to visibly prove the connection between natural objects and to feel the time when they are connected with nature as if they are alive and real. We strive to create a place where people can "regain" their forgotten connection with nature.
We are conscious of "aggressive retreats".
There are some retreats that ask you to just relax and spend your time quietly, but asking you to spend your time freely and slowly is quite stressful, isn't it? Japanese people's DNA is more relaxed when there is a certain time frame, such as "what time to chop wood, what time to take a bath," and so on.
I am a health and exercise instructor, and there is a term called "active rest," and it has been scientifically proven that moderate physical exercise improves blood flow and fatigue rather than just sitting still and resting. Therefore, at Kameyama Onsen Retreat, we offer retreat plans such as nature-guided walks along the lakeside and wood-chopping experiences that allow you to experience nature while getting moderate physical exercise.
● Recommended Plan for Kameyama Onsen Retreat
－What retreat plans do you recommend?
The unique feature of Kameyama Onsen Retreat is that you can choose the plan that best suits your lifestyle and plans (day trip or overnight stay). You can relax at a hot spring ryokan and add lake therapy and nature experiences in between, or you can start at the glamping facility and run around in nature from morning until night. You can freely combine the two.
The details of the plan are available on our website, so let me give you a little information about the innovations we have put into the plan and what we hope you will feel through the plan.
（Official HP >>> https://www.kameyamaonsen.jp/retreats/#plan）
◆ Lake retreat
This plan includes a nature guide and lakeside yoga by Lake Turtle Island. Sometimes, those who like nature will just take a walk by the lake, sometimes just experience nature, such as going to see fireflies or catch beetles, and sometimes those who like yoga will focus on yoga by the lake. The basic balance is about 40 minutes of walking + 20 minutes of yoga. The yoga poses include tree poses and mountain poses to harmonize with nature and savor the time to become one with the majestic nature of Okuboso.
◆ Bonfire Retreat
It's just a bonfire, but it's a bonfire. In fact, there are many thoughts and purposes behind it.
I think staring into the flames of a bonfire is the most soothing thing you can do, but it's not easy to say, "Yes, please stare into the flames of a bonfire. So, we have a set of roasted marshmallows. The marshmallows will burn if you don't watch them all the time, so while roasting them, you naturally enter a meditative state of mind by gazing at the flames of the bonfire. While enjoying the activity, we are also fulfilling the meaning of the retreat.
Firewood for the fire is collected from the surrounding mountains. There are hiking roads and other paths in the mountains, but sometimes trees fall and block the paths due to typhoons. By receiving these trees and making bonfires here, the mountains will be cleaned up, and when the hiking road becomes passable, we can climb that road ourselves as part of our nature experience.
The term "sustainable tourism" is used to describe this, but if we can think beyond just experiencing nature, the community will become better and better. One of the plans to build and implement such a system is bonfires.
See more details >>> https://www.kameyamaonsen.jp/retreats/plan/takibi/
◆ Starry Sky Retreat
Rather than just looking up at the starry sky and saying, "That was nice, it was beautiful," we hope that the experience will help you develop an imagination that goes beyond the world you can see. You know the story of "Orion, the myth of the starry sky, was not good at scorpions" while looking at the stars. The myth of the starry sky is not a story created by God, but by "humans" long ago. Humans connected the stars and made a picture of the constellations, and at some time in the past, they spun out the story, which we are receiving today. People say that we live in an age of 100 years, but if we think in terms of human history, there are things that will remain for 1,000 or 2,000 years. Human beings can go beyond the scale of the time in which they live. First-magnitude stars, the brightest stars, are actually visible back in the city. People just don't notice them because they don't look up. When I talk about this, repeat visitors tell me that they have gotten into the habit of looking up once in a while since then, or that they have looked up the mythology of the starry sky for a while. It is often said that "when you meet with Midoriman, your worldview will expand," and what I want to offer through my retreats is exactly the kind of place that will expand your worldview. If we develop our imagination as human beings, we can properly think about the next generation. If we think beyond the scale of our own lifetimes, we cannot afford to throw away trash on nature. I would be happy if, through the retreat, people realize that they can live in harmony with nature by enjoying life in their own way.
See more details >>> https://www.kameyamaonsen.jp/retreats/plan/star/
◆ Wide-area nature guide
This tour guides you through the unexplored areas of Okuboso, which can only be reached by Kameyama Onsen Retreat.
These tours are designed to learn about nature, such as how mountain ecosystems work, but we can also accommodate a variety of needs, such as picking up driftwood from unexplored waterfalls or mountain streams, depending on your request. We sometimes go fishing for natural eels with river fishermen, and in October 2021, we made a brief appearance on TV's "Guru Ninety-Nine" in search of special ingredients. Yasuko-san, a self-defense force comedian, and I took the location crew to a deep mountain to look for nuts. The day after it rained, the location was covered with a lot of falls and a lot of aphorisms! The muddy nuts they caught were transformed into a fine dish called "Agu pork stewed in a bamboo hat, Mont Blanc style (5,600 yen). I have been guiding various people to the backcountry of Boso for various purposes. Of course, I am also available for basic guided tours such as firefly guided tours, starlight tours, and hiking around Kameyama Lakeside!
What all plans have in common is that through their experiences, participants will gain hints on how to live in harmony with nature. I believe that living while appreciating and thanking nature makes a difference in the richness of one's heart and mind. I have experienced this myself when I spend time in the embrace of nature, and I would like to provide a place to do so through our retreats.
● Information about Kameyama Onsen Retreat
Name of Hotel: Kameyama Onsen Hotel
Address: 65 Toyoda, Kimitsu, Chiba 292-0523
TEL : 0439-39-2121 [Operation Hours｜8:00～21:00]
【By Car】Please set "Kameyama Onsen Hotel" as the destination in your car navigation system.
From the direction of Tokyo:
Take the Wangan Road, Keiyo Road, and enter the Tateyama Expressway from the Soga IC.
Exit at the Anegasaki Sodegaura IC, and drive approximately 40 minutes on Route 410, Chiba-Kamogawa Route.
From Kawasaki or Yokohama:
Take the Tokyo Bay Aqualine to the Kisarazu Kanada IC. Enter the Metropolitan Chuo Expressway,
Exit at the Kisarazu-Higashi IC, and drive about 30 minutes on Route 410, Chiba-Kamogawa Route D.
From JR Tokyo Station, take the Sazanami Limited Express to Kisarazu Station. Transfer to the Kurihama Line and get off at Joso Kameyama Station. From there, take a taxi (2 minutes)/walk (12 minutes).
From the Yaesu Exit of Tokyo Station, take the "Akusy-go" highway bus for approximately 100 minutes and get off at the "Sasa" bus stop. A 10-minute walk.
From Shibuya Station (Shibuya Mark City), take the Sea Valley Highway Bus for 120 minutes and get off at the Sasa stop. A 10-minute walk.
From Chiba Station, take the "Capina" highway bus for approximately 75 minutes and get off at the Fujibayashi Ohashi bus stop. 5 minutes on foot.
■ The person we have spoken with
Mr. Taiki Toyoshima
Principal, Kameyama Onsen Hotel, Kameyama Onsen Retreat, and Kanoyama Nature School
Born in Osaka in 1975 and raised in Odawara.
His father's serious illness led him to explore the harmony between nature and people, and he became a therapist at "Thermes Marins Pacific", a thalassotherapy facility for translocation therapy, which was rare in Japan at the time.
Later, after working as a manager in charge of revitalizing a ryokan in Izu and managing a nature school, he joined Kameyama Onsen Hotel.
Based on many years of experience as a naturopathic therapist, she has made it her life's work to turn the social animal 'person' back into a 'human',
She continues to switch on the almost forgotten modern human being.
Health and exercise instructor and nature game leader