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Creative Writing Retreat in March

Origin Stories: A Creative Writing Retreat and International Diversity Project at Fab Cafe in Hida Furukawa, Japan

Program Period: March 22nd – 25th, 2018
Application period: Through March 15th
Ticket can be purchased from here

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 This very special retreat, lead by Leslie Fierro in the celebrated Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) Method, invites you to discover the power of your origins and your original, important voice, as well as the captivating way in which writing with others can strengthen your own writing.

The AWA method is a gentle but life-changing teaching method based on the belief that everyone is born with creative genius. You were born with a strong, unique voice that can be nurtured and drawn out through the teaching of creative writing–an art form that is available to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level. The AWA method is all about focusing on what is strong and memorable in a person’s writing, and allowing for uninhibited experimentation, not about tearing people down.

Highlight of the program
・Have a life changing experience -express yourself into an art form of writing through Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) Method (*1) by sharing and helping one another with other participants in a hidden place of Japan where you can appreciate the picturesque view 
・To be connected with people by sharing the precious time including eating and sleeping under the same roof
・Learn on how to contribute your works to international literacy journals
・A hand-bound booklet is to be created and given to you before your departure which features a contribution from each retreat participant as a beautiful reminder of Hida and a keepsake from the wonderful retreat experience.
・Your final work is to be exhibited to an international happening: the “I Am From Project” (*2) created by American poet George Ella Lyon, whose famous poem, “Where I’m From,” has inspired writers and teachers around the world

Program details


March 22nd – 25th, 2018 

FabCafe Hida 

More details can be found at the bottom of this page

Daily Schedule:
Day 1 (Thursday, March 22)
Afternoon arrival and check-in
Dinner on your own to allow for relaxation and late arrivals
Evening meet and greet beer/wine/sake.

Day 2 (Friday, March 23)
Breakfast – 9:00 AM
Morning writing – 10:00 AM – Noon –  includes two writing prompts, sharing, responses
Lunch/free time – Noon – 2:00 PM
Afternoon writing – 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM – writing excursion, two writing prompts, sharing, responses, and one optional takeaway prompt.
Dinner – 6:00 PM

Day 3 (Saturday, March 24)
Breakfast – 9:00 AM
Morning writing – 10:00 AM – Noon –  includes two writing prompts, sharing, responses
Lunch/free time – Noon – 2:00 PM
Afternoon writing – 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM – writing excursion, two writing prompts, sharing, responses, and one optional takeaway prompt.
Dinner – 6:00 PM

Day 4 (Sunday, March 25)
Breakfast – 8:00 AM
Morning writing -10:00 AM – 12:00 PM –  includes 2 writing prompts, sharing, responses, one takeaway prompt
Farewell lunch – 12:00 PM
Checkout and departure – 2:00 PM

About the Retreat Leader, Leslie Fierro
Leslie Fierro 
“Leslie’s Cast Off! workshops offer novice and experienced writers a safe and supportive space to generate new work. Her creative spirit makes her workshops fun and engaging. Also, I loved the way the AWA method allowed me to feel at ease and take risks with my writing. Leslie did a great job encouraging everyone to participate and provide positive craft-focused feedback.” – Kathy, Brooklyn, NY


12 people

Who can participate
・Those who are interested in English skill-up, creative writing: poetry, fiction, non-fiction, memoir, etc.
・Those who want to get away from the daily hustle and spend time in a hidden place of Japan surrounded by vast nature
・Those who want to look into yourself and express in the art form of writing with a help of others who might discover new elements in you

…in detail
This writing workshop is best suited for mid to high level English speakers.
Writing prompts will be both spoken, and handed out in printed English text, and will strive to be simple, clear and direct.
Most of the prompts will be tactile and sensory, things that you can see, feel, smell, hear and touch, though some will include very short passages of written work. Basically, if you can understand the main request of the prompt, you can write.
Writing can even be done in Japanese, or whatever your native language might be. As this is an AWA workshop, sharing what you write is optional, and your inspiration to write doesn’t even need to directly respond to or engage with any of the prompts.
Having a decent grasp of English will be helpful in listening to the shared work, but what is really important in this workshop is your quiet discoveries within yourself, the strengthening of your writing voice (which need not even be spoken aloud), your “ear” for daily inspiration, and your feelings of mutual understanding and shared experience amidst the peaceful, historic surroundings of Hida Furukawa.

Application period
Through Mar 15th 

Tuition Fee
860 USD  (equivalent to 95,000 Japanese yen)
including meals as noted, program costs, writing excursion associated fees, and shared accommodations

Tuition Breakdown
Program and Administrative Costs: 543 USD (equivalent to 60,000 Japanese yen)
Meals and Accommodations: 317 USD(equivalent to 35,000 Japanese yen) 
– Includes accommodations for three days, happy hour the first evening, breakfast and lunch for days 2, 3 and 4, and dinner for days 2 and 3

Payment Deadline
March 15th 
*Please note that the retreat must meet minimum capacity to run. In the unfortunate event of cancellation, a full refund will be given by March 22th. 
*The paid deposit is not refundable for any other reason but cancellation by the retreat hosts.

Buy Tickets
Buy your ticket here.
You will receive a confirmation once your payment is registered, and will receive follow-up emails to get to know your hopes for the workshop, address any questions, and to ensure your expectations can be met.

Please contact Hidakuma any questions related to logistics. 
Please contact Leslie Fierro any questions related to the program.

Getting FabCafe Hida
The retreat, running Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon (with the writing happening Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning), can fit in nicely with a longer visit to Japan, or can be a relaxing weekend experience for those already in Japan.

Fab Cafe Hida is five minutes on the foot from JR Takayama Main Line Hida Furukawa Station, which is a three-hours-train ride from Nagoya, a four-hours-train ride from Kyoto, and a-four-and-a-half-hours-train ride from Tokyo. There is also a direct express bus available from Shinjuku st., Tokyo. More on access here.

Nearby attractions include the  Sparful and 48 falls onsen, and the Ryokufu Resort for skiing and snowboarding. Options for extended stays at Fab Cafe are available.

The AWA Method is based in the following philosophy. These affirmations rest on a definition of personhood based in equality, and a definition of writing as an art form available to all persons.
・Everyone has a strong, unique voice.
・Everyone is born with creative genius.
・Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level.
・The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer’s original voice or artistic self-esteem.
・A writer is someone who writes.
“Where I’m From” is the event, planned for October 2018, will be a “celebration of the diversity and beauty of who we are,” and will include a peaceful march in Washington, DC to unfurl a massive scroll full of writing and art inspired by worldwide meditations on origin. The march will be accompanied by recitations from the scroll, and performances near the White House. The scroll currently includes work from Europe, Asia and South America, as well as from voices of all ages throughout the United States. The goal of this project is for the scroll to include work from every country in the world, and you are warmly invited to add your words and experience to this. We’ll be Facebook Live-recording the march to share with all.