Have you ever enjoyed a hands-on Japanese activity in your country or in Japan? Beside cooking sushi, joining a tea ceremony or wearing a kimono, there are many things to do in Japan for foreigners curious about the Japanese culture and life. Teachers may guide hands-on sessions at diverse locations: a craft village, cultural centre, museum, school, temple, workshop… but support in English often requires arrangements. Think about it; hands-on activities can make your holidays in Japan much more memorable, interesting and fun!
To better understand life in Japan, you may harvest rice or pick up tea leaves, pickle Japanese horseradish “wasabi”, prepare sushi, make tofu or soba/udon noodles, make Japanese confectioneries “wagashi” or even create (modern) food replicas normally shown at the entrance of restaurants! Beyond Japanese food, you may learn to make a tatami, ceramic object, daruma or kokeshi doll, paper lantern or simple Washi Japanese paper… and families with small children may try origami or traditional games.
To better understand the Japanese culture, you can notably join a tea ceremony, try flower arrangement, take care of a bonsai, print ukiyo-e with woodblocks, write Japanese or Chinese characters (calligraphy) with a standard or giant brush, copy or chant a sutra at a Buddhist temple, practice Zen meditation, play Japanese drums… If your timing is good, you may even carry an omikoshi, pull a float, or dance with locals at a festival!
The fans of Japanese martial arts can also practice more or less ancient arts in Japan: hand-to-hand martial arts such as judo and karate, Japanese archery “kyudo”, the art of using a Japanese halberd “naginata-jutsu”, Japanese swordsmanship “kendo”…
Try 1-2 Japanese traditional activities during your stay; it really reveals much about Japan and its culture. Tea ceremonies are popular in Kyoto and karate trainings in Okinawa but Tokyo provides most activities. Also note that many events occur all over Japan on Culture Day (national holiday: 03 November)! So, which traditional activity have you enjoyed? Which traditional activity would you try?