Kabuki is a traditional form of Japanese theatre which has entertained Japanese audiences since the Edo Period. This unique theatre style encompasses spectacularly designed and colourful costumes, vibrant make-up, and dynamic actors who perform their art with highly embellished movements. The themes of these shows generally center on historical events and are played out on intricately built stages that also includes a footbridge into the audience allowing the performance to occur in front, beside, and behind you. Accompanied by live music, these performances are a must-see for a true experience of Japanese culture. Tickets for shows can be arranged in advance of your trip.
Sumo wrestling has a deep and long history in Japan dating back centuries to the Edo Period (1603-1867), where it was used to entertain the Shinto gods, or “kami”. With a history built in religion, many of the rituals observed during a Sumo match have religious associations, such as salting the ring. Sumo is Japan’s national sport and a spectacular cultural event to attend, both for the wrestling and the tradition. Should a tournament not be taking place during your time in Japan, tickets can also be arranged to attend practice sessions. Tickets can be, and should be arranged, in advanced as well as the type of seating you would prefer.
Geishas, or “Geiko” in the dialect of Kyoto, are trained entertainers that are highly skilled in music, singing, and dancing and have been an element of Japanese culture for centuries. Literally translated, Geisha means “one trained in arts”. During their training, they are called “Maiko”; this training period will typically last up to 5 years. There are many ways to tell the difference between a Maiko and a Geisha from their hairstyle, make up, kimono, and their collar (Geishas have a wide, white simple collar while Maikos will wear a thicker collar and is usually predominantly red with a pattern). We offer you the rare chance to tour the Gion district in Kyoto where your guide will provide you with the history of the Geisha and Maiko while touring the area. You will then have the opportunity to have a light dinner with a Maiko where you can converse with her and have her answer any questions you may have about her life. She will also perform for you and entertain you in the arts of dance, song, and music for which they are famous. These are private sessions and we would be happy to arrange this experience for you in advance of your trip as they are in high demand.
The beauty and the tranquility that can be found in the Japanese Tea Ceremony is remarkable. Every gesture is rhythmically performed by your host who has meticulously prepared to welcome you into this peaceful and relaxing experience. From the preparation of the tea, to the carefully placed utensils upon the tatami mat, each moment is inspirational. You will be mesmerized by the movements of your host that have been carefully crafted over the centuries and passed down through multiple generations. There is no experience quite like the traditional Tea Ceremony, and you we urge you attend this ceremony either in a group setting or in a private ceremony.
The traditional Japanese Kimono, which came into fashion during the 8th Century during the Heian Period (794-1192), is the quintessential style of Japanese dress and is easily one of the most recognized forms of fashion associated with a culture around the world. The Kimono is a colourfully patterned garment that, with the skills required for the creation of the dress, is considered to be a work of art with the patterns worn typically matching the current season (i.e. cherry blossom patterns in the spring). A women’s kimono can consist of 12 or more pieces which require assistance in putting on. Men typically wear a Hakama, which is a traditional piece of samurai clothing, and is usually worn over a kimono. The men’s kimono is a much simpler configuration, consisting of only 5 separate pieces. In your group or private class you will be taught the traditions behind these ancient garments while professional staff demonstrates the intricate details of wearing the kimono and hakama as they assist in dressing you.
Although Japan cuisine is as extremely diverse, the most popular and well-known by far is sushi. There are differing opinions on when sushi originated within Japan, but the emergence of sushi dates back centuries, and as its popularity has spread around the world, so has the desire for learning the skills and techniques to prepare sushi at home. We invite you to join either a private or group lesson that can be tailored to suit your individual desires. Although becoming a master sushi chef requires many years of training and guidance, this class will provide you with some of the basic techniques and skills needed, including slicing and rolling, so that you are able to prepare your own roll sushi, sushi platters, or nigiri at home.
With the Zen meditation class, you can have an exclusive Zen experience at an authentic Zen Buddhist Temple which was established in 1590. This private Zen meditation class is held in English by the deputy head priest, with focus on teaching how to adapt Zen-based mindfulness and philosophy into everyday life. After the class, you can deepen your understanding of Japanese culture through the priest’s explanation of the temple’s historical gardens and artifacts. At the end of the tour, matcha green tea and sweets are served in the traditional tea house, a space which is not used by regular visitors. We would be happy to include this relaxing and unique experience into your visit to Japan.
Japanese Flower Arrangement, or “Ikebana”, is an art form that positions the flowers in an artistic display that represents the flowers in a living and natural state. It is much more than placing flowers in a vase, with this class you will learn to combine different materials, working with their form, colours, and shapes to display the arrangement in a creative display that nearly brings them to life. You may choose either a group or private class.