Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe
Just Bring Yourself! 6 Places to Experience Japanese Culture in Tokyo
Since you've come all the way to Japan, why not try out some unique Japanese culture experiences? From bonsai to tea ceremony, or even cosplay, we'll be introducing six places where you can experience Japanese culture in Tokyo.
Written by MATCHA
Generally people visit sightseeing spots at their travel destinations. But don't you think that just taking pictures of the famous places isn't enough? Shopping and photography are fun, but since you are in Japan, why not try some cultural experiences unique to this country?
From bonsai to cosplay, today we will be introducing six great places where you can casually experience Japanese culture in Tokyo.
1. Bonsai Classroom at Shunkaen
Shunkaen in the Edogawa ward is a must-go museum for bonsai lovers. The culture of bonsai has spread worldwide since the 1990's, and they say that half of the visitors here are from abroad.
Countless bonsai are arranged in the vast and beautiful Japanese garden for admiration, and they are also available for sale. If you pay 3000 yen in addition to the 800 yen entrance fee, you can take part in the Bonsai Classroom. In general, there is no booking required in advance and you'll be glad to hear they can help you in English and Chinese as well. After taking a class on bonsai, you'll be able to create and take care of your own. You can take home your masterpiece for an extra 2000 yen.
Read also: Make Your Own Bonsai at Tokyo’s Shunkaen
2. Sutra Writing at Fukagawa Fudo-do
Sutra writing means copying down Sutra books of Buddhism. It was originally performed as a form of spiritual training by the monks, but nowadays people try it for reasons such as to feel revitalized or to relieve stress. You too can experience this training at Fukagawa Fudo-do temple. It costs 2000 yen and is held from 9:00 to 14:30 every day. After a 5 minute briefing, all you have to do is trace over the sample characters with a brush. It should take around 2 hours for a first-timer. You can take home your finished piece.
Read also: Sutra Training at Fukagawa Fudo-do
3. Make Your Own Wind Chime at Shinohara Furin Honpo
Furin, or wind chime, is a symbol of summer in Japan. This small bell makes a refreshing sound that the Japanese listen to during summer in order to forget about the heat.
At Shinohara Furin Honpo, you can experience making a traditional glass, Edo furin. Not only do they sell furin made by the craftsmen, you can also watch them in the making for free, or create your own for a reasonable price. You can experience glassblowing or just the painting part.
Don't worry, a professional will help you with the tough parts. The furin making experience is 1700 yen if you want to try the glassblowing, and 1200 yen for just drawing. You'll be able to create your one-and-only furin in about one to two hours, and you won't be feeling any heat during the summer.
Read also: ”Edo Furin”, Experience Making A Wind Chime
4. Experience Authentic Japanese Green Tea at Jugetsudo
Matcha, or green tea, is a popular Japanese taste around the world. Jugetsudo is a shop located in Ginza specializing in tea. Here you can experience making various type of Japanese tea for 1000 to 2000 yen.
The inside has a calm atmosphere, where you will be given an explanation on Japanese tea. After some cold tea and snacks, you'll learn to make gyokuro tea, hōjicha, and matcha. You can also purchase the tea or equipment you used during the Japanese tea course. The shop is located above Kabukiza, so we recommend stopping by after watching some kabuki.
5. Transform Into Your Favorite Character at Studio Crown
Cosplay has become an essential part of Japan's otaku culture. Studio Crown is a place that allows you to try cosplaying, located just 6 minutes away on foot from Akihabara station. For just 3000 yen, you can bring just yourself and transform into the anime character of your liking and shoot some pictures (*reservation required).
For an extra fee you'll have more options, or be able to purchase or rent costumes. If you have any interest in cosplay, we recommend you give it a try.
6. Experience Lolita Fashion at Maison de Julietta
Harajuku is where the young fashionistas gather, because it's the district of kawaii culture. Masion de Julietta is a salon specializing in Lolita fashion. It's located in Laforet Harajuku, which is considered a holy place in terms of Lolita fashion. All girls dream of dressing in pretty dresses, and this is where you can get some great photos of yourself wearing one. You'll be feeling like a supermodel! The price is 9980 yen including tax to rent a complete set of Lolita fashion, to get your makeup done, and for some nice photos. Why not be a princess for an hour?
All the places mentioned above are all easily accessible from the metropolitan area. Everything we introduced today can be done without bringing anything other than yourself, so if you found anything you're interested in, give it a try! Communicating with people who treasure the Japanese culture will be a great opportunity to see Japan from a different perspective.