Top 10 Things to enrich your experience of Japanese Culture

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Japanese Culture is a perfect blend of Tradition and modernization. It symbolizes precision, harmony, hospitality, immaculate perfection and aesthetics. Appreciation of the simplicity of nature is essence of this culture. With its fascinatingly elegant culture; Japan is becoming a popular tourist destination. And getting acquainted with these 10 things will surely enrich your experience of Japanese culture.

1

Geisha and Maiko –

Iconic pictures of Geisha symbolizes Japan for centuries. This is the mystery element which attracts the word towards Japan. Geisha are traditional Japanese female entertainers who entertain with their skills of various Japanese arts such as classical music, dance, games and conversation. A maiko is an apprentice geiko (geisha).The two most famous hanamichi (geisha quarters) can be found in Tokyo and Kyoto. You can take walking tours to these Geisha districts or dress yourself like one!!Yes.. Geisha or Maiko makeovers are also available in these districts of Tokyo(Asakusa) and Kyoto(Gion).

2

Kaiseki Ryori -

Kaiseki Ryori is Japanese very own Haute cuisine; artistically presented multicourse meals with seasonal themes with its origins in the 16th century. The taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food are so well balanced that it not only becomes a gastronomic delight but a visual treat in itself. Kaiseki Ryori is Japanese food at its absolute best.

3

Zen –

Zen is a well known school of Buddhism. The importance of discipline, simplicity and natural word in Zen Buddhism has deeply influenced Japanese aesthetics and art forms. Zen Buddhism believes that enlightenment can be achieved through meditation. Zen helps us to reach to our inner self or our true self through meditation. Many temples like Taizo-in Temple, Kyoto provide temple tours and guided Zen meditation experience to visitors.

4

Kabuki –

Kabuki is one of Japan’s well know traditional performing art. It has been named as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is full of showmanship. If you don’t understand the language; no problem at all. With its stunning and elaborate make-up, dazzling costumes, interestingly graceful dialog delivery and movements, Kabuki is a visual treat and complete entertainment package.

5

Tea Ceremony

Japan is a paradise for tea lovers. Tea is called ‘Cha’ in Japanese. You will get to enjoy infinite variety of tea in this country; and if you get a chance, do watch or participate in the traditional tea ceremony. It is indeed a well worth experience..! Japanese Tea ceremony known as ‘Sado’ is a symbol of sincere and heartfelt hospitality with history dating back in 16th century. Every tiny aspect is arranged and performed with utmost care and detailing and with a seasonal touch. It’s an art form in its own way with a deep philosophical element. So with this rhythmic magic of elegant movements, etiquettes, taste and flavors; get ready for the Japanese style cha-cha-cha experience!!

6

Ryokan –

‘Ryokan’ is a perfect place to just relax and unwind. History of Ryokan dates back to 17th century. Ryokan are traditional Japanese inns with peculiar and harmonious Japanese style set up like tatami mats, futon and several course seasonal Japanese delicacies. You can even put on a cotton rob called ‘Yukata’ to get that traditional feel. Isn’t that great? Ryokan is a ‘all things traditional’ place where you can indulge in warmth of Japanese hospitality. An epitome of customer care.

7

Japanese Garden –

Japanese Garden | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

The Japanese appreciation of nature is well known word-wide; and Japanese gardens are true embodiment of this appreciation and aesthetics. Stone, water and trees are three main elements of Japanese gardens. These gardens have deep Buddhist influence. Japanese people are proud of their gardens and you will find these exquisitely stunning gardens all over Japan. Be it the rock garden, pond garden or a tea ceremony garden it assures a soothing, peaceful and more of a spiritual experience.

8

Omaeri-

Sumiyoshitaisha Shinto Shrine precinct, Sumiyoshitaisha, Osaka …

Omaeri is nothing but visiting a Shinto shrine. Shinto is Japan’s indigenous religion. Do the ceremonial purification rite known as temizu before entering the shrine, ring the bell, respectfully bow twice, clap twice and be quiet. Experience the peaceful divine silence; experience the spiritual side of traditional Japan. You can also find many culturally interesting things in the shrine like Ema, Omikuji and Omamori. Ema are wooden boards on which prayers and wishes are written and hanged on the stand, hoping that the deity will grant the wishes. Omikuji are random fortune telling paper slips. If you get a slip with good fortune prediction keep it with you. In case of bad fortune prediction it is a custom to tie the paper slip to the pine tree or a metal-wire wall whichever is available. Omamori are good luck charms or talismans to bring good luck. Interesting isn’t it..?

9

Hanami –

Hanami | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Beautiful cherry trees or ‘Sakura’ burst in to bloom; People thronging in gardens and public places enjoying the party like atmosphere. Spring at its peak. That is ‘Hamani’ –Japan’s best loved flower-viewing festival. ‘Sakura’ is inevitable part of Japanese Culture and love for this beautifully delicate flower date backs to centuries. It represents the fragility and beauty of life. It is considered as a reminder saying life is astonishingly beautiful but it is too short to squander away. In spring Entire country turns in to a ‘beautiful Fairy land’ with this elegant subtle pink Blossom. The cherry blossom hangs on only about a week so mark your calendars, book your spots and enjoy the ephemeral but undying beauty of Sakura!!

10

Onsen –

Kusatsu Onsen | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Hot springs or are called Onsen in Japanese and Japan being a volcanically active country, there are number of it all around Japan. In an Onsen hot water from geothermally heated springs is typically used; thus it is believed that Onsen water has great healing powers with lot of mineral content in it. Most of the Onsen have ‘Rotenburo’ or outdoor baths. Rotenburo is like a window to nature. It provides natural surroundings, beautiful views and crisp fresh air. Rotenburo is an addictive experience. At first you may find it little bit awkward as nudity is involved but believe me it’s worth it!! You will simply love the soothing experience.

CONCLUSION

So get started..! Explore the beauty of this fascinating culture. Pamper yourself with the hospitality. Indulge in the good food. Appreciate the blissful nature. Admire the traditions.

Get rejuvenated the Japanese way!!

Biba

Biba

Freelance blogger. Japanese language and culture enthusiast. Studied Japanese Language and culture from Kanazawa University, Japan. Worked as Japanese-English bilingual in Multinational companies.