Most of us want to escape the daily grind but Japanese chef Toshio Tanahashi embraces it. In Tanahashi's case, the daily grind is the slow, silent and contemplative art of crushing sesame seeds.
Sesame grinding is at the heart of a type of Japanese vegetarian Buddhist cuisine called shojin cooking, and Tanahashi is a master of this culinary tradition. He’s written books, led workshops and shared his shojin philosophy at Google and Stanford “for those top minds to harness maximum brain power, to avoid meat and regulate their qi.”
Tanahashi will be teaching this ancient art at Four Seasons Hong Kong’s Wellbeing Check-In on November 18. He will guide people through a seed-grinding meditation using a pestle and controlled movements performed in a yoga-like sitting position. Silence and the aroma of the freshly ground sesame are said to help attune the senses and calm the mind.
Four Seasons Hong Kong executive chef Andrea Accordi recently travelled to Okinawa to train with Tanahashi, who has established a culinary institute, Zecoow, to educate people about shojin. Accordi says: “Grinding is a repetitive movement. You feel the vibration. The sound becomes hypnotic. This process takes effort but afterwards, the sensation is a bit like what you feel after a great yoga class.”
As well as sesame grinding, Tanahashi will lead a workshop in meditative cooking and shojin chanting.
And the retreat won’t just feed the soul. Guests will be served a vegan lunch by the pool and a seven-course dinner inspired by the spiritual philosophy of shojin cuisine.
As part of the wellbeing experience, guests will also receive a 90-minute massage and are welcome to use the outdoor infinity pool.
This is the second time Four Seasons Hong Kong has held its Wellbeing Check-In. The first programme, which took place in June, sold out within days and featured a workshop by Los Angeles-based kundalini yoga star Guru Jagat, stand-up paddleboard yoga in the swimming pool, a meditative tea ceremony with Resham Daswani, and a sage cleansing session.
The Four Seasons Hong Kong Wellbeing Check-In takes place on November 18 from 2 pm and costs HK$4,900. To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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