An Immersive Experience, Offline And Off-grid

An Immersive Experience – Offline And Off The Grid

Photos: Shiyi Wu
Words: Devin Gackle

For many, vacations don’t guarantee relaxation. Depending on where you go, there’s the hectic chaos of getting out to do and see all the area has to offer, the stress of planning it all, and making sure you don’t miss anything. But what if there was a place where you could go off the grid and disconnect? What if you could truly de-stress, clear your mind, be re-invigorated by nature, and connect with the world around you? There are many places in the world that offer this kind of experience, but for us that place was Japan.

Hakone is part of a national park in Japan (Fuji-Hakone-Izu), famous for its natural hot springs. A handful of hotels built around some of the hot springs to create private saunas and baths for guests; by retaining its traditional customs, our hotel, Mikawaya Ryokan provided us an immersive, unique, and personal experience. Everyone in here, including guests, wear a traditional Japanese kimono and each room is accommodated with its own tatami mat, a small tea table, and cushions for kneeling. Our views overlooked the mountains and forests of Mt. Fuji. While there, we enjoyed the hot spring baths, delicious and nutritious teas and seafood meals, quiet surroundings, immersive and contemplative hikes, hidden temples used for prayer, and even traditional Japanese music. For us, staying at Hakone was an otherworldly experience, one that allowed us to slow down and experience a simpler way of life.

The best part is, anyone can find a place just for themselves—you don’t have to go all the way to Japan. You could rent a cabin in the woods near you, or hike or camp in the U.S.’s Appalachian Trail; maybe you’d like to explore the ruins of Ancient Greece, or take in the Cliffs of Moher and then sit by the fire with a cup of tea in a remote Irish cottage if that’s what helps you disconnect. Or maybe it’s simply sitting in your own backyard drinking coffee, a dog by your side.

By immersing ourselves in this simple and peaceful culture, and spending time offline, we were able to forget about the rest of the world for a little while. It reminded us how liberating it feels to let go and connect to something so simple, yet bigger than ourselves. Going offline didn’t just allow us to unwind, it enabled us to grow and learn what matters most in life.