IZAUK Kesa/Rakusu Sewing Session

This will be a Zen Practice sesshin devoted to the sewing and repairing of kesas and rakusus.

The sesshin will be led by Yashô Valérie Guéneau, a Zen nun for more than twenty years.  She is a disciple of Taiun Jean-Pierre Faure, abbot of the Zen Buddhist Monastery, Kanshoji, in France.

There will also be Japanese Calligraphy workshops offered at this sesshin, led by John Callaghan, who has practised shodo (the Way of Writing) with his teacher, Keiko Harada, since 1999.

On Friday and Saturday 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.


At ordination, a kesa is presented to the bodhisattva, monk or nun. In our sangha the garments, the rakusu and the 7-band kesa, are made by hand following the method handed down since the time of the Buddha. They are suitable for all ordinations within the AZI.

Japanese Calligraphy / Shodo

We shall also be offering workshops on Japanese calligraphy.  The workshops are aimed at those with little or no previous experience.  All equipment and materials will be provided. Early booking is recommended as space is limited.

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


Thursday, 3rd October at about 6pm to eat at about 8pm


Sunday 6th October after lunch and cleanup, about 3:30pm – please plan on staying long enough to fully participate in samu/cleanup

Change of Venue:

Owing to the sudden, unexpected closure of the Bilberry Hill Centre, Rose Hill, Birmingham the sesshin will now take place at:

Gateway Residential Centre, Church St, Ashbourne, DE6 1AE

The Gateway centre is an extensive conversion of the former Ashbourne Methodist day school, located under the current Ashbourne Methodist church.

Ashbourne is a beautiful town on the southern edge of the Peak District National Park and a short drive from the dramatic Dovedale and Manifold valleys. The centre has easy walking access to the Tissington trail

The accommodation includes a large hall/dining room, overlooked by a gallery. There is a comfortable, small lounge and fully equipped kitchen.
There are mostly single beds in different sized dormitories. Each bed has a bottom sheet, blanket and pillow – sleeping bags or duvets/extra sheets are needed.
There is no parking available, but it is possible to park outside to unload. Street parking is available 5 minutes from the centre.
The nearest train station is Derby with a regular bus service from there to Ashbourne.  Please contact the organiser Kate Thompson (contact details below) if you would like further information on getting there.


Loose dark clothing for zazen, a zafu if you have one, and a bowl & cloth for meals.  Also your sewing things if you have any.  If you are repairing a kesa/rakusu bring thread of the colour already used and if there is a tear, matching cloth.  Thread, needles and cloth will be available to buy, please request.  If you are bringing your own cloth (100% cotton) to make a rakusu or kesa please bring black cloth.


Recommended:  £145 (Friends);  £160 (Non-members)

Low Wage:         £120 (Friends);  £135 (Non-members)

Unwaged:           £100 (Friends);  £110 (Non-members)

Those booking before 19th September with full payment or a deposit of £25 will receive a £20 discount on the above prices. Please note that deposits are not normally refundable.

Friends of IZAUK members who require financial assistance to attend can apply for help from the IZAUK Bursary Fund – Contact John at john.cal@outlook.com. You can become a member at the sesshin.


Online registration is no longer available.
If you still wish to register, please contact:
Kate Thompson
9 Helen Street
West Yorkshire
BD18 4PH
Tel:  07486 160026