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zenschool  Kumano

​Kumano  x  Innovation
Sunlight filtering through the trees at the Akakura Shrine near where we’ll be staying.

Why innovate in Kumano?

   Shintoism in Japan is now attracting a lot of attention. The reason is in the days when Shinto was a core belief system, members of the same community had to constantly help each other to survive a harsh natural environment. In harmony with each other, working together came naturally, and nature itself was regarded as G-d.


   In this third year of the Japanese Reiwa era, we are witnessing environmental challenges everyday, including climate change and the biodiversity crisis, as well as a global pandemic and wars. Amidst these rapid changes, we shouldn't focus on competition, but rather complement our current social and business systems by strengthening tenets of collaboration. Herein, the Shinto way of thinking, which emphasizes connecting with each other and aims for harmony, comes in handy.

   In this age of a frequently changing landscape, business models based on left-brain logic have reached their limit. Now is the time to reclaim the "sampo yoshi" business model of co-existence and co-prosperity, which resonates with Shinto values and regenerates the natural environment.


   zenschool is a business innovation program that uses methods of creating and accelerating innovation, which we have cultivated over the past 10 years. The Kumano version of our program places an increased emphasis on meditation and work within the magnificent nature of Kumano, starting from early in the morning. This program will sharpen the mind, and borrows inspiration and ancient wisdom from the landscape of Kumano, to foster regenerative business ideas and innovation.

   “Regenerative" refers to the concept of not only maintaining the existing natural environment and ecosystem services, but also enhancing and improving them through human activities. For example, ancient Japanese Tatara iron manufacturing includes a tradition of restoring nature by planting trees after cutting them down for iron production. In Japanese satoyama (traditional agricultural landscape), biodiversity improvement was a natural result of human activity, which included planting deciduous trees to fertilize fields and rice paddies.
Meditation at Onikura in the morning of the second day (weather permitting).

A program based on True Innovation® theory, developed over 10 years to build intrinsically motivated innovators like Steve Jobs.

A program based on True Innovation® theory

   This program is based on True Innovation®, a unique theory of innovation that was developed over a period of 10 years since 2011, through a trial and error process of distilling intrinsic motivation from individuals through mindfulness meditation, self-disclosure in a supportive environment, and deep dialogue. 


   Reflective, creativity-enhancing conversations are a natural result of self-disclosures, which take place in a place of absolute psychological safety. Afterwards, we distill a product or service concept based on intrinsic motivation, create a business plan, and build out a prototype. After the initial course is complete, you will work with your zenschool masters and classmates once a month for six months to further distill and improve your innovations. This format, as well as access to a growing network of zenschool graduates, helps ensure our students successfully implement their news ideas in their current organization, or alternately commercialize them in a new corporate entity.

zenschool Masters

 Kouji Miki

CEO of  enmono Co., Ltd.


After working for Fujitsu Limited, Miki began and then ended his doctoral studies at Keio University, later working as a part-time lecturer at Mie University and Kobe University. Then, while working as an executive at an IT venture, Miki experienced a loss of mental balance due to his company’s restructuring, after which he began practicing zazen at home. This practice helped him to recover and later found his current company in 2009.


In the beginning, he held zenschool courses to accelerate innovation in the manufacturing industry, where he has helped numerous SME factories develop their own products. In April 2017,

he founded Zen2.0 (a general incorporated association (GIA) that organizes the world's largest international conference on Zen and mindfulness) with his colleagues and became co-chairman.

He is the author of several books, including "Let's Start Micro Monozukuri" and "True Innovation: Changing the Mindset of Employees with 'Zen-like' Dialogue.”

Shigeru Utsunomiya

CTO of enmono Co., Ltd.

After graduating from Doshisha University, Utsunomiya worked as a production engineer at Suzuki Motor Corporation for 18 years. His last role was as production engineering section chief at a local factory, after which he joined NC Network, a venture company supporting small to medium-sized manufacturing companies, where he met Miki-san. There, as a production engineer and manager in charge of procurement, he was involved with selecting suppliers for prototype manufacturing and providing sales support for parts procurement.


In 2009, he founded enmono Inc. with Miki-san. Thanks to spending two years facilitating an idea generation workshop called "Power Generation Conference," he built up professional skills in extracting ideas for developing in-house products.


zenschool Master Candidate(Teaching Assistant & (English Language Support)


Adam Lobel, Representative Director, Kumano Shindo GIA
 Originally from New York, Adam graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in religious studies focusing on Buddhist psychology, and holds a Master’s degree from Tokyo City University in Environmental and Information Studies. He is currently Representative Director at Kumano Shindo, a regenerative lab based in Kumano, Mie Prefecture, which since 2020 has been an INNO-vation Network Hub. Concurrently DX Solutions at ITO Corporation, and Research Fellow at the Institute for Future Engineering. Previously, co-founder and Ecosystem Director at Sizung, the global collaboration platform for making this world a better place to live. 2019 INNO-vation Generation Award winner . He is a graduate of zenschool VR02, and provided course support for VR03 and VR04.


Dates and Fees

We will make a decision by adjusting the schedule of those who have applied. Scheduled to be held after summer

This is a 6-month program that includes 3 days of intensive lectures and a follow-up program for practical use.

Course fee

If you cancel your reservation, you will be charged a cancellation fee, so please be sure to check the cancellation policy before applying.

Please be sure to check the cancellation policy before you register. *Meals, transportation, and lodging (7,000 yen per night for a guest house, about 9,000 yen per night for a business hotel) Please pay for food, transportation, and accommodation separately. 

・Installment: 30,300 yen/month (tax not included) x 12 installments

・Lump-sum invoice payment: 360,000 yen (tax not included)

・Credit card: 350,000 yen (tax not included)





5 minutes walk from Kumano-shi Station

Rental Space Kinomori
666-5, Kimoto-cho, Kumano City, Mie Prefecture, 519-4323 Japan
Rental Space Kinomori Room
Dialogue near the waterfall
Rental Space Kinomori Room
Walking meditation in the forest




Meditation at Oonikura
Dialogue at Akakura Shrine


14:00 Introduction to True Innovation
15:00 Self-disclosure through mind mapping
16:00 Move to "Akakura" guest house
16:30 Arrive at "Akakura" guest house
17:00 Dinner
18:00 Self-disclosure by mind mapping
19:30 Rest
20:00 Self-disclosure by mind mapping
21:30 End


05:00 Wake up
05:30 Move to Oonikura (under clear weather)
05:50 Meditation work at Oonikura (under clear weather)
06:30 Move to Akakura Shrine
06:45 Meditation and dialogue at Akakura Shrine
07:30 Breakfast
08:45 Check out of Akakura Guest House
09:30 Meditation & Exciting Treasure Hunting
12:00 Lunch
13:00 Continue Exciting Treasure Hunting
17:00 Continue visual work
19:00 Dinner (box lunch)
20:30 Transfer to business hotel
21:00 Check-in at business hotel


05:30 Wake up
06:10 Move to Ohma Shrine
06:30 Meditation work in front of the waterfall
07:30 Check out of business hotel
08:00 Visual work at Kinomori
12:00 End


 The presentation time is 10 minutes plus 10 minutes for questions and answers. Unlike ordinary business plan contests, we will gather people who sympathize with the business on the spot, conduct team building, and prepare a system that allows participants to place a "provisional order" for products and services that they are immediately interested in.

 In addition, all participants are required to sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure that intellectual property is not leaked to outside parties.

​Following-up dialogue

 We will start follow-up immediately after the presentation. For the next 6 months, we will follow up on the progress of the project online using zoom or in Kamakura for about 1 hour every month.
 During this follow-up period, some of our graduates make a major pivot in their business, or obtain a budget and grow significantly.
 Some of them even appear in our on-demand media as a promotional support for their business.
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The 121st MMS (from the dialogue)

”enmono Since you contacted us, did you have any issues that you were facing as a company?”

Kajikawa: ”There were many issues, but I had already been to a lot of formal seminars, and they were kind of boring, and I didn't know what to do next. So I decided that it was okay if I didn't make it, and said, "I'll participate.”

Fujita Corporation
Representative Director
Takako Kajikawa
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YAOKI, a lunar rover developed after graduating from zenschool, will carry out Japan's first lunar exploration in 2021 aboard the lunar lander Peregrine on NASA's lunar transportation mission.
(*)The YAOKI project has been selected as a TOSHIN Start Up Design project and will be promoted in partnership with Tohshin Seisakusho. Mr. Ishihara, the president of Toshin Seisakusho, is also a graduate of zenschool, and the collaboration between graduates has led to this accomplishment.

Daimon Corporation
Representative Director
Shinichiro Nakajima
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After the collapse of Lehman Brothers, he took over as the representative of the company, and in the midst of the Corona disaster in 2020, he handed over the representative to his successor, aiming to become a master of dialogue using VR. 

Project Manager, Honmachi BASE
Owner of Heart Beat Square Seki Irodori
Masataka Ohno
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