Traditional Japanese sweets (wagashi) come in different shapes, sizes and stories. Typically served with tea, the culture of gifting wagashi was mentioned in historical tales from the Muromachi era. At Toyama City's Matsukawa Teahouse you can learn how to make wagashi (complete with an interpreter), and then take a quiet river cruise.
It is a traditional strategy game that has since been rooted into the culture of not just China and Japan, but also Korea to Tibet over centuries. In recent years, Go has started to make its way across the entire world including Europe and even America as far as competitive sport goes.
When daily news and the outside world get to be too crazy, try Shodō, Japanese calligraphy, to regain inner equilibrium and calm the mind and heart.
In keeping with the ancient custom, Yasukuni Shrine holds the yearly Mitama Festival around July 13-16 as part of the Obon festivities. Mitama refers to the spirit or soul of the dead. During this season, Japanese hang lanterns and place offerings at the altars as prayers for their ancestors’ spirits to be freed of their sufferings. Since 1947, the Mitama Festival has lightened up the Yasukuni Shrine grounds with more than 30,000 glittering lanterns or chochin.
Softbank’s intelligent robot, Pepper and Honda’s humanoid robot, ASIMO are just two examples of Japan’s robot revolution that are known the world over. At first glance, Japan’s passion for robots may seem like a recent revolution, but did you know that Japan has been producing robots for hundreds of years?
Naruto Kabuki is an interesting blend of traditional and modern since it incorporates the history of kabuki with the more modern culture of manga and anime. Even if you’re not particularly interested in anime, kabuki plays are a good way to immerse yourself in Japanese culture.
To this day the area still produces a vast number of kimono, coming in second only to Japan’s cultural hub of Kyoto. The people of Tokamachi are extremely proud of their home grown artisanship, and host a number of events in May showing their deep connection to Japan’s traditional dress.
A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese style inn that is found throughout Japan with its signature feature of tatami matted (mats made from rice straw) rooms and in house onsens (hot spring baths). Ryokans are priced at a slightly higher rate than a hotel and hostel. However, here are 5 reasons why a ryokan experience is a must-try during your visit to Japan.
In a little place called doll town or ‘Ningyo no Machi’ on Takasago street in Matsumoto City, there are quite a few doll shops, each with their own unique charm. Depending on the time of year, you may either find lovely Japanese hina dolls for girls or even traditional Japanese kabuto helmets for boys.
I’m just going to cut straight to the conclusion: you don’t. You can’t. At least, not yet. Now before you get discouraged or upset or say “this guy doesn't know what he’s talking about”, I ask that you stick with me until the end of this article and find out what I mean by “not yet”.