Click here to see the leaflet

Click here to see the leaflet

This will be a Zen Practice sesshin devoted to the sewing and repairing of kesas and rakusus to be led by Zen Nun Valérie Yashō Guéneau.

There will also be Japanese Calligraphy workshops offered at this sesshin

Rakusus are garments which are presented to people when they receive Bodhisattva ordination (also known as jukai or receiving the precepts) as well as monk or nun ordination (a rakusu is a 5-band kesa worn around the neck).  Additionally, monks and nuns are presented with a 7 band kesa  at their ordination.  In our tradition, we usually make these garments ourselves

On Saturday and Sunday there will be zazen before breakfast and after supper with 2 periods of sewing in between. On Sunday we will have a half day of zazen, lunch and then samu before going home.

Japanese Calligraphy

During this sesshin we will also be offering workshops on Japanese calligraphy.  The workshops, which are aimed at those with little or no previous experience, will be led by John Callaghan, who has practised shodo (the way of writing) with his teacher, Keiko Harada, since 1997.  All equipment and materials will be provided.

Please note:  Participants must only follow one activity during the weekend.  Please state whether you will be sewing or doing calligraphy.

Led by:  Zen Nun Valérie Yashō Guéneau. Valérie is a disciple of Taiun Jean-Pierre Faure.  She has been studying kesa sewing for over 25 years and practising zazen for over 30 years.


Thursday, 24th September at about 6pm to eat at about 8pm


Sunday 27th September after lunch and cleanup (around 2:30 or 3:00 pm – please plan on staying for cleanup – we need your assistance)


Bilberry Hill Centre, Rose Hill, Birmingham, B45 8RT

The Bilberry Hill Centre is located on the outskirts of Birmingham, within walking distance of the delightful 500 acre Lickey Hills country park.  Being close (but not too close) to Britain’s central city makes it easily accessible for everyone.  There is a variety of accommodation at the centre, including some single rooms.

How to get there: The nearest train stations are Barnt Green and Longbridge.  Bus number 63 leaves every 15 to 30 minutes from Birmingham city centre stopping at Rednal, Local taxis are Roundabout Cars 0121 453 1313 and Gold’n’Black Taxis 0121 453 4949.

Lifts may be available from the bus stop or train station, contact Kate Thompson


Everything you need for zazen and your personal needs.  Also bring your sewing things if you have any.  If you are repairing a kesa/rakusu try to bring thread of the colour already used and if there is a tear, matching cloth.  thread, needles and cloth will be available to buy.  If you are bringing your own cloth to make a rakusu or kesa for ordination, please bring black, unless told otherwise by the godo who is ordaining you.  It’s best if you wash the cloth before hand.


Friends of IZAUK:  recommended £125, low-waged £100, unwaged £80
Non-members:  recommended £140, low-waged £1115, unwaged £90

Izauk members can apply for help from the bursary fund through Peter Moorhouse at

You will receive a £5 discount if you send a £25 deposit (or full payment) along with your booking slip before 15th Sept.


Kate Thompson: 07928 747 799(text only)

To Register:

Please return the booking slip to Kate Thompson,  9 Helen Street, Shipley, West Yorks, BD18 4PH

It’s not longer possible to register on line and pay with paypal.   please contact Kate directly if you still want to come, and pay in cash or cheque at the sesshin