Shou Sugi Ban House resides behind that elusive gate in Water Mill, directly east of the Parrish Art Museum. Whether you’re a local or weekender, if you’ve traveled east on Route 27 you’ve certainly noticed the entrance way but, very likely, have never actually peeked inside.
As the gates slowly parted, I arrived at the large Buddha statue dead center of the property for my private tour with Jodie Webber, creative director. Open year-round with 13 rooms, the property consists of a tea tasting and healing arts barn including sound experiences, fitness studio with garage-style doors, hydrotherapy pools, spa rooms, fire circles, open-concept kitchen — the list goes on. All for either half-day experiences, full-day experiences, or a choice of three-, five-, or seven-day retreat options.
The concept is simple, literally. Minimal aesthetic, minimal waste, maximum benefits. As I explored the property I began to feel at peace with myself amid the chaos from the outside world. It was as though the gates literally secreted me from the stress of typical summer daze as I escaped to Japanese-inspired tranquility.
While the property is not LEED certified, by choice, it uses solar panels, geothermal wells, and considers the environment in each detail. I partook in a tea tasting, including the signature tea with beach roses. The tea bar and shelves were repurposed floor boards from the preexisting barn. Apparently, I was surrounded by wood, rocks, and replanted trees that were simply moved around. Sustainability and nourishment maintains priority down to the zero-waste culinary program.
The name itself, Shou Sugi Ban, is derived from the Japanese tradition of combining fire and water to make wood more durable. Founder and “master architect” Amy Cherry-Abitbol, a Water Mill resident, purchased the property in 2014 and in the spring of 2015 a fire broke out on the property. In keeping things full circle, and part of the process of live and learn, the name came about as a sort of tribute to Mother Nature’s elements.
As I spoke with Webber, I played with the copper pyramid and gongs. The vibrations went from my fingertips to my core, and that’s when Webber sat me in a vibroacoustic bed. The bed itself is a table with frequency pulsing from feet to head, a complete sound experience with headphones on for nearly 45 minutes. A truly unique event that had my entire body shaking, as though to rid all the negative energy pent up inside of me.
It’s difficult to do Shou Sugi Ban House justice in a single column. It’s the ideal location for those looking to escape for a few hours or a few days. This may come off like a tourist destination, for those arriving on the East End, but it’s actually a place of serenity for the entire community. The impeccable attention to minimalistic detail throughout the property alleviates any distraction, coinciding with the holistic wellness practices. The focus on sound arts and a communal atmosphere proves to be different than any other place nearby. Once the gates close behind you, and you enter with an open heart and open mind, it’s both a mental and physical escape from the world not so far away.
Learn more and book an escape at www.shousugibanhouse.com.
This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here