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


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 readily accessible.

How to get there:

The nearest train stations are Barnt Green and Longbridge. Bus service number 145/145A (operated by iGo) runs about once an hour between Longbridge and Barnt Green stations (Stop LH), stopping at Rednal Island, from where it’s a 3 minute walk (west) to the Bilberry Hill Centre.

From central Birmingham: Bus 98 (operator National Express West Midlands) runs between Priory Queensway, Birmingham and Rednal Lickey Road/Old Hare & Hounds two to four times each hour. From here it’s a 6 minute walk (south) to the Bilberry Hill Centre.

Local taxis are Roundabout Cars 0121 453 1313 and Gold’n’Black Taxis 0121 453 4949.


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 now open. There’s no problem if you don’t have a Paypal account – simply select the option to pay with a credit or debit card on being transferred to Paypal’s website . Please complete the form below.
Alternatively, if you prefer to register by post, please send a cheque and covering letter to:
Kate Thompson
9 Helen Street
West Yorkshire
BD18 4PHTel:  07486 160026