Traditional Cultural Experiences

Google PlusGoogle Plus Facebook Twitter


One of Japan's unique charms is its dynamic blend of old and new. In a holiday to Japan you can experience ancient temples, gardens and cultural traditions at the same time as enjoying some of the world's most futuristic and technologically advanced cities.

In Japan the old arts of ikebana and tea ceremony and ancient martial arts are still thriving. Here we tell you just a few of the many places you can try your own hand at Japanese arts and also how to experience a night in a traditional inn, Zen meditation or a night of tradtitional Japanese theatre.

Traditional - Japanese Cultural Experiences


    Tea Ceremony

    Sado, a tea ceremony celebrating the Way of Tea, has been much favoured by Japanese high society as an artistic ceremony. Today, it is popular as a means of training concentration of spirit and of learning manners. There are a number of schools in Japan, each presenting their own style of tea ceremony. Many hotels have a tea ceremony room on the grounds for the customers to enjoy a real tea ceremony.

    Find out where to experience a tea ceremony in Tokyo or Kyoto...


    Ama divers Mie Get yourself an exclusive meeting with the amazing ama (female free divers) in Mie Prefecture. These ladies continue a centuries-old practice in order to dive for shellfish, without any sophisticated diving aids. By arranging a tour with the Kaito Yumin Club, you can meet the divers in their traditional huts for snacks or lunch, and discover the secrets of this traditional practice. For more details on these tours, please see Kaito Yumin Club Tours.

    Kabuki actor performing

    Japan is a treasure-trove of traditional performing arts.

    You can purchase tickets or obtain details of the theatre schedule at theatre box offices. Reservations must be made in advance for popular performances. Tickets can be purchased at the "Play guide" ticket sales desks located in large department stores or shopping malls in the main cities.

    We recommend that you also check at your hotel, as they may have a ticket sales desk or be able to reserve tickets for you. For more advice on the purchase of tickets or more detailed information, please access the English website of individual theatres or consult with a TIC (Tourist Information Centre).

    Read on for information about Kabuki, Noh and Bunraku - Japan's most famous traditional performing arts


    Or, for something more avant-garde... The Kyoto Butoh-kan aims to establish itself as one of the centres of Butoh dance in Japan, and especially to identify with the unique culture of Kyoto, the Old Capital. It is devoted to promoting Butoh dance that is accessible and enjoyable for any visitor to Japan. The venue - an intimate space in a converted Edo period "kura" (storehouse) with just 8 seats - is one of few venues in Japan in which to see Butoh. For schedule and to reserve tickets, please see


    lady practicing the art of Ikebana 

    Ikebana originated as a means to display wild flowers in the tea ceremony room. There are more than 20 schools of ikebana, all differing in their stylistic rules and methods of presentation, and most have their own instruction center. You can enjoy the beauty of ikebana in a variety of places such as hotels, department stores and the lobbies of public buildings.

    Read on for a list of where to experience Ikebana....


    Looking out of a temple into the garden 

    Shintoism, which is indigenous to Japan, and Buddhism, which was introduced to Japan in the sixth century, are the two main religions in Japan. Many Japanese practice both religions, celebrating birth and marriage in accordance with Shinto rites while following Buddhist ceremonies for funerals and memorial services. Shintoism, which originated as a way of dealing with ancient people's fears of demons and the supernatural, has no written doctrines. A Shinto place of worship is referred to as a shrine. The Buddhist place of worship is a temple. Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all by the constitution.

    Interested in staying in a temple, trying a Buddhist vegetarian meal or trying meditation? Read on...


    Two men in a Judo competition

    Japan's martial arts have become popular throughout the world. Whilst visting you can watch karate, kendo, aikido and judo performances, or even have a go yourself. Others traditional sports such as sumo and kyudo are still rarely seen outside Japan. So do take the opportunity to see them while you are in Japan!

    More information about Japan's traditional sports...

  • Visiting Japanese Temples and Shrines

    Visiting temple and shrine laden Kyoto, or seeing some of Japan's more rural, majestic monuments can be one of the most satisfying experiences when visiting Japan. The 'most sacred' of Japan's Monotsumi Inari Shrineshrines is Ise Jingu, in Mie Prefecture, set in amongst a sacred, peaceful forest. Alternatively, you could visit Japan's 47th most famous prefecture, Shimane, to see Izumo Taisha, or go to rural Yamaguchi prefecture to visit Motonosumi Inari Taisha which tumbles down in to the sea. Nara's Todai-ji temple makes for fantastic photo memories to take home, and is as ornate and picturesque inside as out.



    Inside a room at a ryokan

    Ryokan are Japanese-style inns, offering the experience to eat, sleep and relax like the locals. In most cases, a sumptuous kaiseki dinner and a traditional Japanese breakfast is included in the room price. Rooms are usually Japanese-style, with straw tatami mats used for flooring. Guests sleep on futons (thin mattresses that are spread on the tatami mats at night and stored folded in a closet during the day). Ryokan are characterized by the high quality service that they offer and their diligence in maintaining a purely Japanese atmosphere and Japanese-style service.

    More on traditional accommodation...

  • Singing Samurai - Samurai Battle Dance Experiencesamurai sword dance

    Ryuou Arai is the third generation successor of a traditional Japanese art form known as Kin'ou school and made his stage debut at the age of just 3 years old. Now he devotes his life to ensuring the survival and development of  the traditional 'gin-ken-shibu' (singing, Japanese sword dance, Japanese fan dance) skills which have been passed down in the school from generation to generation. You can try these skills for yourself at a private experience in Tokyo. Watch the school's President deliver a spectacular live performance, don a real silk samurai costume, learn how to dance with a samurai sword (imitation swords are used) and perform a  short piece of choreography. Watch videos or book an experience via the Singing Samurai website:

  • Traditional Music

    taiko classLearn the history of traditional Japanese taiko drumming and get to grips with how to play these magnificent, enormous instruments with lessons at Taiko-Center. These 60 minute classes will take you through the basics of how to produce the resonant sounds of these drums, and you'll learn to play songs typical to Japanese festivals. Available in the Kansai region, why not make your trip more memorable by learning to play an authentically Japanese instrument during your stay? Reservations can be made via this website:
JNTO Partners