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Futarasan Shrine

Futarasan is really a shrine in three parts, the main part of which is next to the Tōshō-gū Shrine. The beautiful red Futarasan Shrine is dedicated to Nikkō’s mountains, in particular the long-dormant volcano, Mount Nantai, and makes up the third part in Nikkō’s World Heritage trinity. Don’t miss the sacred red Shinkyo bridge, which…

Type: traditional  |  Category: East Japan  |  Tags: , ,

Gion Festival

Although Japan’s ancient capital, Kyoto, is said to celebrate a festival every day somewhere in the city, the Gion Matsuri is generally believed to be the best, and marks the highlight of the Kyoto festival year. Dating back to the ninth century, the Gion Matsuri has its roots in a purification ritual intended to clear…

Type: traditional  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: , ,

Ikebana

Ikebana, meaning “living flowers”, is sometimes referred to as kado, or “the way of flowers”. Ikebana masters create symbolic works from cut flowers, branches, grasses, and other natural and sometimes synthetic materials. This traditional Japanese style of flower arranging is simple and striking, and follows the uncluttered aesthetic associated with all Japanese arts. Along with…

Type: traditional  |  Category: Throughout Japan  |  Tags: , ,

Japanese Tea Ceremony

Japanese Tea Ceremony is perhaps the most enigmatic of the traditional arts. Unlike the more familiar daily brew of steeped green tea, or o-cha, tea for the ceremony is made from bright green powdered matcha, and served with the utmost care during an elaborately restrained ceremony. Also called chanoyu, sado, or chado, the ceremony is,…

Type: traditional  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: , , , ,

Kabuki

If comparisons between east and west can be made, kabuki is Japan’s opera. Dramatic storylines featuring sword-fights, ghosts, and love affairs are brought to life by gorgeously clothed performers speaking in hypnotically sing-song voices. Though it is said that kabuki was invented by a woman, and was traditionally performed by both sexes, men’s only kabuki…

Type: traditional  |  Category: Throughout Japan  |  Tags: , ,

Origami Making

Origami is the traditional art of folding paper. Square sheets of paper can be folded into a wide variety of shapes, without the use of a scissors. Some of these shapes, such as the crane, box and ship, are well known and the art or origami is practiced around the world. With a home visit…

Type: traditional  |  Category: Kyoto  |  Tags: , ,

Rinno-ji Temple

Not far from the famous Tōshō-gū Shrine and the Futarasan Shrine is Rinnō-ji Temple, Nikkō’s most important Buddhist Temple. The temple dates back to the eight century, and is famed for its three statues, which are said to be Buddhist Incarnations of the native Shinto mountain deities enshrined at Futarasan Shrine, and are the largest…

Type: traditional  |  Category: East Japan  |  Tags: , , ,

Sumo Wrestling

The most Japanese of the national sports, the ancient art of sumo wrestling is part ritual, part ceremony, and all pure excitement. The short bouts make sumo a surprisingly accessible sport, and the rules of the game are essentially simple: the famously large wrestlers, or rikishi, position themselves on either side of the raised clay…

Type: traditional  |  Category: Throughout Japan  |  Tags: , ,

Takayama festival

A quiet mountain town much of the year, Takayama’s Spring and Autumn festivals are two of Japan’s best, and draw crowds of revellers from across the country and overseas. Like Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri, the Takayama Festival centers around a parade of elaborately decorated floats, which are brought through the old town’s narrow streets between the…

Type: traditional  |  Category: Central Japan  |  Tags: , ,