A garden of yellow, green and pink. What looks like a deconstructed california roll is healthy and tasty with the addition of superfoods. (Photo: Bonson Lam)

10 Zen Wellbeing Restaurant

An alchemy of botanical wisdom

A garden of yellow, green and pink. What looks like a deconstructed california roll is healthy and tasty with the addition of superfoods. (Photo: Bonson Lam)
Bonson Lam   - 3 min read

Yakuzen and Kampo are not the kind of words that would pop out of your vocabulary. However, if you are familiar with Okinawan food, you may be trying Yakuzen food without knowing it. Bitter melon, or Goya, has elements of Yakuzen and Kampo, which incorporates the medicinal qualities of everyday food. Kanpai, on the other hand, is very familiar. Healthy food and a long life, now that is something we can say cheers to.

Japanese people have one of the highest longevities in the world, with the average woman living past 85. What is the secret to living well to your eighties, nineties or even 100? It is said that healthy food and exercise are the secrets to long life. In places like Okinawa, Korea, and China, the idea to taking nature’s medicine as food, or Yakuzen, is the key to taking in nature’s goodness. Foods that have medicinal qualities include Ginseng, Goji, and other herbal like vegetables. In 200 BC an ancient book documented 365 traditional herbs, with the use of Goji or wolfberry considered useful for strengthening the body. Goji is even used in medicinal wine, and you don’t have to be sick to try Yakuzen food. Actually, it is something you can incorporate in your everyday life.

Oriental medicine is represented by five elements, being wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Each element also represents a taste, sense, shade and emotion. Stepping into 10 Zen is like stepping into a temple for the body. Everything, from the soft lighting to the temperature of the room, is designed to elevate you to another level.

You don’t need to be trained as an herbalist to make a good selection from the menu here. All the hard work has been done for you, and no matter what you choose, chances are it would be good for you. I had a salad that looked more like a spring garden, with yellow petals floating above a bed of sashimi salmon and diced avocado, like some kind of deconstructed California roll with a sprinkling of walnuts and goji berries. For something more substantial, try their nabe or hot pot of fresh organic vegetables, your selection or meat or fish, and a blend of 28 herbs that aids circulation as well as giving you an instant detox.

Of course, if you are inspired to learn more, pop over to the Herbal foods museum next door. The Nihondo Kampo Museum is based on the philosophy that we should learn from nature’s healing power to restore ourselves to well being. This compact space has elements of a school and a herbal pharmacy where you can obtain individual consultations. With a juice bar featuring herbal ingredients, it makes years of research accessible to the general public, though it is best if you come here with a Japanese speaking friend.

Ju-Zen (10 Zen) closes fairly early by Tokyo standards, however this is consistent with the idea that well being is not only about food, but sleeping patterns. Ideally having a regular bed time starting between 10 pm and 2 am will give you the best chance to getting the regenerative rest you need. One could make a well being trip just in Tokyo, with meditation, good food, tea and trying out the latest in medical research a vacation for your body, mind and soul.

Bonson Lam

Bonson Lam @bonson.lam

I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric laneways of Kyoto last century.  I am humbled to have met many distinguished people during this time, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperia...