Cultural Experience

Traditional Tea Ceremony

A Japanese tea ceremony is a meditative practice that reminds the participant to slow the mind, focus on the now, and appreciate the details. It is one of Japan’s cultural traditions.

Dating back over 1,000 years and with heavy Zen influence, the tea ceremony is the ritual preparation and service of matcha. Matcha is a thick, rich-tasting green tea and is often accompanied by traditional sweets to balance the bitter taste.
The focus of the ceremony isn't on the drinking but on the process and preparation. Every movement is carefully choreographed, and even the seating arrangement is taken into consideration.
As such, there are many etiquette guidelines to be aware of. An instructor or guide will help you to appreciate the many nuances involved.

The tea ceremony sees the simple task of preparing a drink for a guest elevated to an art form, an intricate series of movements performed in strict order and appreciated by the recipient.
The tea ceremony or, directly translated, the "way of tea" is in many ways a microcosm of the Japanese traditional sense of omotenashi, which translates as looking after guests wholeheartedly.

Visiting Sumo Stable

Sumo is a national obsession in Japan and a remarkable spectacle for any visitor.
It is a sport with a history that stretches back to the mists of time that still remains true to its rituals.
From the traditionally coiffed knots that mark a professional wrestler to his mawashi loincloth, the sacred clay ring, the colorfully attired judges, and the rites of throwing purifying salt on the ground before the wrestlers are locked in combat, this sport is like no other.

Visitors can watch the wrestlers practicing their moves and building their physical fitness and strength under the watchful eye of the stable master, usually a retired wrestler, and some of his trusted senior wrestlers.
In the heat of the summer months, the wrestlers drip with sweat. In the depths of winter, their exertions make them steam, and the windows fog over.

Sushi Making Experience

Sushi is probably the most recognizable Japanese food and has exploded in popularity around the world.

As a result of the global expansion of this iconic dish, many misconceptions about sushi have developed. For example, many people mistakenly believe that sushi simply means “raw fish." While the dish is synonymous with raw fish now, there is much more to the story. 

Sushi is the combination of the words “su” and “meshi”. In English this means vinegar and rice. Sushi refers to the slightly sweet, vinegared rice, sometimes called shari, paired with a garnish or neta of seafood, egg or vegetables either raw or cooked. 

Sushi is an art, and for those enamored with its spare elegance, any chance to practice that art is an opportunity to be grabbed.

Taught by veteran sushi chefs, participants learn the history of sushi and the correct methods to appreciate and eat it. Participants will then proceed to make two types of temaki and six kinds of nigiri from fresh, seasonal fish.

The course includes a lesson in the very specialized skill of preparing sushi rice. In addition to cutting skills and assembling the rice, you also learn to appreciate and make fresh wasabi from the raw roots. 

After the lesson, sit down with the instructing sushi chef and enjoy the prepared sushi. 

The experience provides a game-changing opportunity to experience the art of sushi from the other side of the counter.

Ikebana – Japanese Art of Flower Arrangement

The Japanese art of flower arrangement, known as Ikebana or Kadō, is considered one of the Japanese traditional arts.
It has come to be characterized by the Japanese expression wabi-sabi - a word that evokes connotations of minimalism, austerity, imperfections, and the transience of life.

Ikebana is the sum of many pieces - flowers, plants, vases, and space. Each of these comes together to make a stunning display of temporary art. 

There are over 300 different styles of arrangement, with the main three being Ikenobo, Sogetsu, and Ohara. 

Ikenobo is the oldest and aims to evoke a natural landscape or a growing plant. Sogetsu is a more free-form style, that started in the 1920s. Freely combining any material in unique and dynamic ways, Sogetsu is meant to enhance and be incorporated into any space. Ohara features many distinct styles, from the basic Hana-isho to the Hanamai which plays on three-dimensional interactions.