Top 5 Places in Tokyo for Traditional Japanese Cultural Experience
When travelling to Japan, we recommend visiting a facility that allows you to experience Japanese culture. The reason is because Japan has become more westernized and there are rarely opportunities to experience culture unique to Japan in everyday life.
Perhaps given this background there is more attention on traditional Japanese culture in recent year. There are also an increasing number of facilities where visitors can experience cultural events.
Today we introduce you to 5 recommended facilities in Tokyo that allow you to experience rare Japanese cultural events.
1. Japanese Wadaiko Drum Experience: TAIKO LAB Aoyama
“Wadaiko” is a type of Japanese percussion instrument that comes in a variety of different sizes. It is a traditional Japanese instrument along with the Japanese harp “koto” and Japanese lute “shamisen”. Its distinctively loud sound can be heard 2 kilometers away when used by an experienced drummer.
As it is a percussion instrument, there are no difficult skills like scales to learn. It can easily be played by an inexperienced musician which is one of the reasons why it is recommended.
You can experience the basics of wadaiko.
Japanese Taiko Drum Basics: See the Shape, Know the Name
2. Tea Ceremony Experience: Chazen
In Japan, there is an old traditional etiquette called “Sado” or literally “the way of the tea”. Sado was practiced by samurai and warlords which helped it spread widely. Generally, you would experience the event as a guest being served tea. However, here you can experience being a host. You start by grinding the tea leaves to make matcha before even drinking the tea, which you can then serve to your guest.
Additionally, you can experience this wearing a kimono.
3. Cosplay Experience: Photo Studio Wasabi
At “Photo Studio Wasabi”, not only can you dress up in kimono or as characters, you can also dress up in “oiran” or Japanese geisha and have your picture taken.
The photos are taken by a professional photographer in a studio, the studio offers props and make-up so you are sure to have a realistic cosplay experience.
4. Full International Exchange Experience Facility: Tourist Information YANESEN
Photo by tokyodrive.jp
This is a full international exchange facility that allows international visitors travelling to Japan to experience Japanese culture.
The following are the things you can experience by making a reservation on the day of your visit.
“Sado”… the tea ceremony experience
“Shodo”…Japanese calligraphy using brush and ink
“Kimono”…dressing in kimono
“Soba Uchi”…making Japanese soba noodles from scratch using flour
“Togei”…experience Japanese pottery making
The following are things you need prior reservation for.
“Suiboku ga”… making impressive black and white painting using brush and ink.
“Ikebana”.., also called Japanese “kado”, it is the experience of beautifully decorating flowers and plants
Photo by camp-fire.jp
5. Unique Experience: Edo-Tokyo Museum (Arts Council Tokyo)
The Edo-Tokyo Museum is a museum that was built to preserve Japanese culture and culture of the Japanese Edo Period (1603–1867) for future generations. Periodically, there is a Japanese cultural experience class for people from overseas hosted by Arts Council Tokyo.
The contents of the class are dependent on their schedule, but there are some unique offerings like below.
“Wazuma”…unique Japanese magic and it is a traditional art that has been performed since the Edo Period.
“Kami kiri”…it is a craft art of cutting paper using a single pair of scissors. It is the art of cutting paper into shape at the request of the observers.
“Kyokugei”…traditionally, it was a skill to make offerings to the gods. With the guidance of a teacher, you can experience umbrella spinning and standing paper streamers.
It is next to the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall so you can also enjoy sumo.
Access: Tokyo Station -> JR Yamonote Line -> Akihabara Station -> JR Sobu Line -> Ryogoku Station -> walk to “Edo-Tokyo Museum”. MAP
Official Website to Edo Tokyo Museum
Approaching Tokyo Tradition Website
Photo by ifsa.jp
As mentioned in the beginning, it has become increasingly difficult to have distinctly Japanese experiences in everyday life. If you want to experience Japanese culture in everyday life, it is recommended to visit Japan when seasonal events are being held.
In the beginning of the year, January during winter, there is “Shogatsu” New Year’s.
During Spring, in March or April, there is “Hanami” cherry blossom viewing.
In the height of summer in July or August, there is “Natsumatsuri” summer festival, or “Obon” when the ancestors spirits return to the world.
In Autumn around October or November, you can see “Koyo” or fall foliage.