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CHO-WA - The health benefits and stories of

Noriko did indeed have nothing to lose. In fact she was desperate. She couldn't live another day in her miserable condition. She reluctantly took the Shinkanzen (bullet train) that afternoon direct to Nagasaki. From there she boarded a small train for the mountain village of Otamaru.

Her doctor had instructed her to "Ask anyone in the village where to find Sensei. You'll have no problem finding him." Upon arriving in Otamaru, she asked the train conductor at the station if he knew how to find Sensei. He smiled and pointed to a mountain about two kilometres away and said, "Take the trail that goes to the top of the mountain. You will find Sensei there. He lives in a small ryokan (traditional house)." Noriko inquired if she could take a cab, but was told that she would have to walk. The road was too small for cars.

Noriko was tired and felt weak from her trip, but she had no choice. She began walking up the trail towards Sensei's house. It cut through a lush green forest, accented by elegant bamboo shoots, ferns and wild flowers. Everywhere there were sounds of cicadas and birds. It was a warm pleasant evening, not humid as she feared. She was struck by the beauty that surrounded her. The more she took in the scenery, the better she felt. Her depression was lifting. When she arrived at the mountain top she actually felt elated.

Sensei was vigorously chopping wood in his garden. He greeted her without looking up, somehow aware of her presence. "Kon banwa (good evening)," he said calmly, and then turned and looked directly at her.

Sensei had a gentle, kind face that gave the impression of deep wisdom and compassion. He was old but certainly not feeble. His full head of hair was snow white. His clear almond eyes were lively, almost comical. He invited her inside for cool tea. Noriko talked to Sensei about her health problems while sipping an unusual but pleasant tasting tea.

His only response was to ask if she would like to go outside and watch the moon rise above the forest. "It's so beautiful this time of the month." She paused, not answering, and then returned to her health problems. Sensei listened carefully and then once again asked her to join him on the veranda to "watch the moon." He got up and walked outside. Noriko followed.

Sensei was right. The moon looked spectacular as it eased above the dark tree line. It was enormous.
Soon she forgot her health problems and was content just being in Sensei's presence. When the time came to leave Sensei handed her a small bag containing a fine brown powder. He instructed her to mix it in cool not warm water and make a tea that she should drink every morning and every evening just before sleeping.

On the train ride back to Tokyo Noriko fell into a deep, relaxed restful sleep. The following week she did exactly as Sensei instructed. By the end of the week she had more energy, and vitality than she had ever experienced in her life. She could eat anything without a problem. She enjoyed full nights of blissful sleep. She was alive, finally really alive. She would continue to visit Sensei.

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