Shizuka Ryokan — Japanese Country Spa and Wellness Retreat
Located in Hepburn Springs and voted one of the top wellness destinations in the world, Shizuka Ryokan is a little slice of Japan nestled in native bushland. It’s only minutes from Australia’s highest concentration of mineral water springs and the vibrant township of Daylesford.
Slip off your shoes and enter a world that is distinctly Japanese. Zen design, the hushed intimacy of rooms behind sliding shoji screens, and ritualised routines soothe your mind and soul. In the Japanese spa, massage and private yoga and meditation guidance remove tension and show the way to places of fragile beauty and luxurious peace.
Omotenashi is an all-encompassing word that represents Japanese hospitality, a little like welcoming you into our home and treating you warmly like a friend, not a stranger. Long familiar to Japanese travellers, Shizuka Ryokan brings this unique style of hospitality to Australia.
Stepping stones slow life’s pace. Shizuka means tranquillity in Japanese and Ryokan means inn. The building, set in Japanese gardens, is reminiscent of the wooden tea ceremony houses found all over Japan. The rooms at Shizuka Ryokan are traditional. The scent of tatami mats and the uncluttered space are soothing. The shoji paper screens slide open to reveal a sun room and your private courtyard — a place for contemplation and meditation. The simple design helps quieten your mind and allows you to truly be present in your own experiences.
Present-moment awareness has been deeply ingrained in Japanese culture for centuries. The rich experience of Japanese-style living, even if only for one night, is very different. Take time to notice the design of a ceramic cup before drinking and appreciate the decoration of your room, which reflects the foliage and blooms of the month. Allow our environment and customs to coax you to pause … to relinquish distracting concerns … to celebrate the fact that this moment with this person in this place will never happen again … ichigo-ichie. Time, experiences, relationships — these are precious.
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by one of the small team who will care for you during your stay. You will be asked to leave your shoes (symbolic of the burdens of daily life) at the entrance and use the slippers and yukata robes provided within the ryokan. In your room you will be offered warm towels, fragrant green tea and our home-made matcha shortbread … time stops for sipping tea.
No stay in a ryokan is complete without the bathing ritual, which holds great meaning for the Japanese. Stroking the body with soap, removing a day’s dirt and floating in a warm, watery, buoyant embrace — these are pleasures you can enjoy in your own room overlooking your private courtyard garden.
After a bath, relax further with one of the wide range of face and body treatments incorporating Shizuak Ryokan’s own exclusive skin care products hand-made from pure, natural ingredients by their in-house aromatherapist. Discover the age-old beauty secrets of the Geisha with a facial utilising the nourishing properties of white tea, lotus root, camellia oil, brown sugar, bamboo and precious ingredients from Japan.
Perhaps explore something new to you. Shiatsu massage, which was developed in Japan, incorporates a range of techniques to apply pressure along meridian points to reinforce or re-establish your body’s ability to function harmoniously. On offer is also a personalised yoga and meditation guidance for one, or a fun Partner Yoga session for you and a friend or group of friends.
Workshops and Retreats
Shizuka Ryokan hosts retreats and workshops that sit at the intersection of wellness and Japanese culture. The program currently includes Saori weaving, Boro and Sashiko stitching, Ikebana, gift wrapping, origami, calligraphy, Japanese cooking and Japanese yoga.
Move, Meditate and Massage is a highly personalised solo retreat. On day one experience a two-hour-long one-on-one session with an experienced mediation, yoga and shiatsu massage therapist. Sessions incorporate: breathing techniques (pranayama), props to assist alignment and opening in meditation and yoga poses, self-massage, meridian theory, acupressure, dietary therapeutics, abdominal massage, and a range of other yogic and oriental therapy techniques. Following the first session, your therapist will design a short meditation, yoga and self-massage program for you to take home. Day two is a deeper immersion into yoga and meditation practice, and a revision of learned techniques. A shiatsu massage builds on the foundation and connection established in day one.
Seasonal Yoga Retreats Join Cate Peterson and Lars Skalman at Shizuka Ryokan on a journey through five seasonal yoga retreats that build a full picture of Yin Yang Go Gyo, the guiding principle of Japanese yoga and how you can best work with the seasonal flow. The aim is to help you be the healthiest version of yourself year-round: move deep into asana practice; join cooking demonstrations with a focus on food as medicine through seasonal recipes; and discover practices of meditation, breath and acupressure points that will help you stay in sync with the season and allow you to work towards true vibrant physical and mental health
Meals are one of the highlights of a stay in a Japanese Ryokan. At Shizuka Ryokan, traditional and balanced home-style meals are prepared with love by the Japanese team. A combination of Japanese and seasonal local ingredients are used and the team can cater for most dietary requirements with advance notice.
Each morning in the sun-drenched dining room overlooking the Zen garden and native bushland, enjoy a traditional Japanese breakfast comprising many small dishes.
Dinner is ‘omakase’ (entrust the chef) … perhaps sashimi of South Australian king fish, tempura, seasonal vegetables, a main course accompanied by rice and a delicate broth, and dessert featuring sake mousse or matcha pudding.
Things to remember
In order to maintain a tranquil and healthy atmosphere, please kindly note the following:
There are no TVs; enjoy the extensive library or reconnect with your companion over a board game or a drink by the fire or on the deck
Shizuka Ryokan maintains a smoke-free environment
There is a minimum age of 16 years
Shizuka Ryokan is a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, located in the heart of spa country 4km north of Daylesford. Take the scenic drive via the Calder Highway through the Wombat State Forest before passing through Daylesford.
For more information visit shizuka.com.au