Imaginal Japan

The esoteric heart of the Land of the Rising Sun

This new itinerary will combine a seminar focusing on imaginal practices - shamanic and Japanese yoga, shinrin yoku, ikigai - with the possibility of following a complete path of ascetic Shugendo training with a real Yamabushi master.

The seminar will be led by Michelangelo and Dasha and will be held at the Koyasan monastic complex, the most important centre of esoteric Japanese Shingon Buddhism. We will stay for four nights in pilgrim accommodation, immersed in the nature of the sacred mountains and forests of Koyasan, following the rhythms of monastic life and practising meditation and imaginal counselling practices, accompanied by discussions on the history and complex reality of Japanese spirituality.

Imaginal Japan

We will then move on to Kyoto, where we will have the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful and historic cities in Japan, filled with sacred and ancient sites. Travelling up the country and stopping for an evening in the bustling centre of Tokyo, the world's largest metropolis, we will reach the northern region of Shonai. In this remote part of Japan, off the beaten track of international tourism, we will be welcomed by the community of Yamabushi mountain ascetics, who have been practising the meditation and mindfulness techniques of the Shugendo tradition in these sacred mountains for more than a millennium. For four days we will live, eat and practise with the ascetics in the mountains, facing a set of meditative pilgrimages, often physically demanding, surrounded by the nature of this unspoilt part of Japan and guided by a real Yamabushi master. A unique and absolutely authentic experience that is being offered for the first time ever to a non-Japanese group.

This physically, intellectually and emotionally demanding journey will lead us to explore a whole range of ancient spiritual traditions that have profoundly shaped Japanese thinking. An extremely privileged opportunity to embark on a path of spiritual growth and take a completely new approach to discover the great Land of the Rising Sun.

Registration is open until

Participation in the trip is limited and is subject to a preliminary interview
N.B. The programme may be subject to change
N.B. The participation fee may vary slightly depending on the exchange rate and the number of participants

The program scheduled for July 3 to 15, 2023 includes a trip to Japan that focuses on spiritual and cultural immersion. The journey begins with a flight to Osaka, followed by a transfer to Koyasan, a village famous for its monasteries and Buddhist temples. Participants will attend morning prayers, meditations, and yoga sessions led by Dasha, a spiritual guide. Michelangelo, an expert in Japanese culture and history, will accompany the group and share his knowledge of the place’s history, religion, and esoteric Buddhism. The itinerary also includes a visit to Kyoto, where participants can explore the city at their leisure. The trip then takes the group to Tsuruoka to meet with the Yamabushi, ascetic mountain monks who lead them in meditative practices and ascetic dinners during their three-day pilgrimage to the summits of Mount Haguro, Mount Gassan, and Mount Yudono. The journey concludes with a celebratory meal and a final sharing session before departing back to Europe on July 15th.

PROGRAMME 3-15 July 2023

Day 1 (3 July)

Flight to Osaka

Day 2 (4 July)

Arrival in Osaka in the morning. Transfer by minibus to Koyasan (approx. 70km). Arrival and introduction to the monastery. Free time for lunch in the village. Welcome ceremony. Opening of Sacred Circle and initial sharing session. Ascetic dinner accompanied by Zen meditation. Accommodation in a monastery.

Day 3 (5 July)

Morning prayer with the monks. Ascetic breakfast. In the morning, meditations led by Dasha and practice of Japanese and shamanic yoga. Free time for lunch in the village. In the afternoon, walk around Koyasan and discussion on the history of the place and esoteric Buddhism in Japan with Michelangelo. Outdoor Shinrin Yoku practices. Ascetic dinner. Evening meditation. Accommodation in a monastery.

Day 4 (6 July)

Morning prayer with the monks. Ascetic breakfast. In the morning, sharing and meditative practice with Dasha. Counselling session focusing on the concept of Ikigai with Dasha and Michelangelo. Free time for lunch in the village. In the afternoon, discussion on Shinto shamanism and the history of religion in Japan, and of Shugendo in particular, with Michelangelo. Ascetic dinner. Evening meditation. Accommodation in a monastery.

Day 5 (7 July)

Morning prayer with the monks. Ascetic breakfast. Farewell ceremony with the monks and sharing session with Dasha. Free time for reflection and packing. Free time for lunch in the village and transfer by train to Kyoto. Arrival at the hotel. Free time for dinner. Accommodation in a hotel.

Day 6 (July 8)

Breakfast at the hotel. Discussion with Michelangelo about the history of Kyoto and advice on what to see. Free day. Accommodation in a hotel.

Day 7 (July 9)

Breakfast at the hotel. Free day. Accommodation in a hotel.

Day 8 (July 10)

Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer by train to Tokyo. Arrival at a hotel in the centre. Free evening. Accommodation in a hotel.

Day 9 (July 11)

Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer by train to Tsuruoka. Meeting with the Yamabushi. Transfer by minibus to the monastery on Mount Haguro (“Mountain of Current Life”) and pilgrimage to the top of the mountain. Welcome ceremony. Ascetic dinner. Yamabushi meditative practices. Accommodation in a monastery.

Day 11 (13 July)

Morning prayer. Ascetic breakfast. Pilgrimage from Mount Gassan to Mount Yudono (“Mountain of Future Life”). Yamabushi meditation and rebirth ritual. Return to Mount Haguro by minibus. Ascetic dinner. Accommodation in a monastery.

Day 12 (14 July)

Morning prayer. Ascetic breakfast. Ritual pilgrimage to the summit of Mount Haguro. Ritual Naorai celebratory meal. Final sharing session. Transfer to Shonai airport by minibus. Domestic flight to Tokyo. Connecting flight to Europe.

Day 13 (15 July)

Return to Europe

Imaginal Japan


  • Seminar led by Michelangelo and Dasha

  • Meditation experience and intensive practices led by the Yamabushi

  • Inland transportation by bus and train between Osaka, Koyasan, Kyoto, Tokyo and Dewa Sanzan

  • Accommodation in Kyoto and Tokyo in a double room, in Koyasan and Dewa Sanzan in pilgrim lodge

  • Full board except in Kyoto, Tokyo and during transfers

  • Local taxes


- Drinks outside and during meals or consumed from the minibar (where present)

- Meals not included in the programme (room service) and meals in restaurants other than the programme

- Gratuities (porterage) optional excursions and any personal requirements

- Airfare including domestic flight from Shonai to Tokyo

- Airport taxes

- Extra weight surcharge on domestic and international flights

- Travel insurance

- Anything not expressly mentioned herein and under "the fee includes"


What they had to say...

See some of our reviews of Japan from some of our fellow explorers.

It is the experience of a lifetime. I loved waking up early with the group to practice various meditations and yoga to start my day. The cuisine was wonderful and cooked by an extremely talented Chef. This trip honestly has changed my life, as cliché as it sounds. All of the activities such as grateful diary, rock meditations, connecting the body and the mind and the yamabushi rituals and practices, have shown me that life is beautiful and that all that I should do is be grateful and love with no boundaries. Thank you to Michelangelo and Dasha

After this experience, I feel so much more serene and at peace with myself. I am forever grateful for the friendships that were created with all the participants during this trip.

This experienced has caused a shift within me. I feel stronger, more determined, and aware of each present moment that life gifts to me. Immensely grateful to Michelangelo and Dasha for guiding me and supporting me during this unforgettable voyage.

Michelangelo and Dasha are wonderful, kind, and radiant souls. Thank you to them for opening me up to a whole new world. I now practice the Japanese philosophy of acceptance- uketamo, daily and witness beautiful changes taking place in my life. Through the meditations that I practiced with Dasha, I have learned to let go and focus on the present moment without fear or judgment.

Michelangelo in my eyes is truly an expert on the realms of shamanism and Shintoism. His easy way of communicating complex matters makes it accessible for anyone who wants to dive deep into the world of shamans. This trip not only showed me a new world, but it has also broadened and developed my understanding on Shamanism. Thank you.

Living with the Yamabushi, tea ceremonies, Zen monasteries, sleeping on tatamis and eating locally grown crops from the mountains. There are so many things I want to write but I honestly feel that one must live this experience, reading about it won’t do justice to the most beautiful and magical moments that I have experienced during this trip. Thank you Michelangelo and Dasha for always being there for me and for your care and support.

The discovery of being able to experience the sense of brotherhood and communion, with seemingly unknown but evidently rediscovered people. A magical bridge between, East and West. A beginning for a step toward a "planetary ecumenism." Let me EXAGERATE😆😆 THANK YOU! 🙏🏽💞