Custom Group Travel
Shodo is the art of calligraphy in Japan. This popular fine art has philosophical attributes with every stroke of the brush. When practicing calligraphy your work will reflect your state of mind. Certain kanji, poems, phrases, etc. resonate with individuals and those feelings can be shown through calligraphy. You will have the chance to express the characters that invoke these emotions by participating in Shodo.
Traditional tea ceremony in Japan is known as the art of Sado or Chado. The ritual preparation of matcha or powdered green tea, which has been around since the Heian Period (794-1185), was once practiced by the samurai class. Later on the ritual of the tea ceremony was infused with Zen teachings and reflected a form of meditation. You can experience a form of Zen meditation through the art of Sado.
Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement where the goal is to bring humanity and nature together in one piece. It is an art form that uses every part of a plant to express this idea of combining both worlds. The philosophy of ikebana is to develop closeness with nature. Through ikebana you will have the opportunity to give life to a piece.
Origami literally translates to “folding paper.” The art of folding paper has a history going back more than 1000 years. One of the most recognized origami figures, the crane, is a symbol of peace in Japan. Not only will you have the opportunity to learn how to make a crane, but also other objects too. The process of origami uses square pieces of paper to make something amazing.
Taiko are drums in Japan that has close associations with religious ceremonies and festivals. The taiko has existed for more than 2000 years; however the modern taiko resembles the drums in China and Korea. This percussion instrument has been an important part of imperial court music since the 8th century. Experience the evolution of taiko with your own hands.
Bonsai means planted in a container. It is an art that grows the plant in a pot or tray and maintains it over time. The art of bonsai was derived from Chinese horticulture, but developed under Japanese Zen Buddhism. There is no specific form a bonsai should take and is left to the individual to interpret. There workshops available for you to learn about the process and make your own bonsai.
Zazen is the seating form of Zen Meditation. While in this position you suspend all interactions with outside disturbances and letting thoughts pass you by. Your legs are crossed, your hands make the mudra symbol, and the spine is erect, but relaxed. It is usually done with a group in a meditation hall. Discover another part of you through zazen meditation.
Kimono is the traditional clothing in Japan. The word translates to “thing to wear.” The present style of kimono dates back to the Heian Period (794-1185). A kimono can have many layers or one depending on the season and weather. Even though it is not commonly worn in Japan, you will have the chance to walk around in the traditional garment for leisure.
Sumo Stable is where sumo wrestlers train and live. It is required that all professional sumo wrestlers belong to a training quarter. At the stables you can watch the wrestlers train and partake in meals that are sumo size. It is a great place to see the professionals train especially when it is not tournament season.
Geisha are courtesans well versed in tea ceremony, flower arrangements, conversations, games, Japanese traditional dance and music. Geisha are usually both entertainers and hostesses for their customers. For dinner and other occasions you will enjoy a performance by the Geisha and participate in their games while having great conversations with them.
Noh are a theatrical traditional art that utilizes various masks. It is the oldest theatrical art in the world and is still performed today. Noh plays combine narrative stories, masks, and dances while using various props and costumes in the performance. It is then accompanied by talented musicians to complete the ensemble.
Kyudo is Japanese traditional archery and uses a simple long bow. There are 8 basic forms to follow in Kyudo and is a form of meditation. The hitting the target is not your goal, but mastering the forms and yourself. Once you do that then the result will be hitting the target. Even though it may look easy from the outside there is more to it once you try it yourself.
Kendo is a martial art that descended from kenjutsu (swordsmanship). It is a martial art that is widely practiced in Japan. Kendo uses bamboo swords (shinai) and protective armor that requires a good amount of physical capabilities. There are traditions associated with the martial art that will very enlightening to see or even participate in.
Aikido literal interpretation is the “way of combining forces,” which means to use your opponent’s against them by controlling their actions with minimal effort. People who practice aikido learn to understand their opponents’ rhythm to apply counter techniques. Learn and watch the techniques of aikido practitioners.
Home staying with a family is one of the most unique experiences to do in Japan. You will be able to learn extensively about Japanese culture and modern lifestyle in Japan. It is an opportunity to gain or improve your Japanese language ability while staying with a family. There are things you can learn by home staying that no school or book can teach you.
Machiya are traditional town houses that can only be found in Kyoto. Many machiya have been destroyed by natural disasters, fires, war, etc. Some have been preserved and remodeled for people to stay the night in a traditional town house. You will have the luxury to stay in a prewar structure with the amenities of modern society.
Temple Lodging (Shukubo) allows you the chance to experience staying at a temple and see the lifestyle of the residing monks. Not all temples offer this opportunity so it is best to research which ones that does. You will be able to try the vegetarian cuisine (shojin ryori) that the monks eat every day.