by Bryce Marley
On Japlanning's latest trip to Japan we decided to partake in an afternoon of traditional wears, flower arranging and a Japanese tea ceremony. Read ahead to find out how we found out this unique cultural experience, and how you can experience it yourself.
One of the team here at Japlanning is a florist back home, and naturally had the urge to learn and try her hand at the traditional Japanese art of flower arranging, Ikebana. Oddly enough the other two "must experiences" of this past trip were a traditional tea ceremony and a fitting of a kimono. Well, thanks be to google, we quickly found japanese-culture.jp, a fantastic group who offer amazing traditional, cultural experiences to small groups, across Japan.
japanese-culture.jp had exactly what we were looking for, and was located conveniently just a few stops from Shinjuku, so nice and central and easy for anyone who is staying in Tokyo to get to.
Booking the afternoon was easy through their website, with easy payment options and they have a great messaging system to keep in contact with you in regards to where they will meet you and times etc. Everything is in English too, and they are all fluent in English, so there is no worries about any language barriers in these intimate experiences.
On the day, our teacher and host, Noby, met us at Higashinakano Station in full Kimono, and took us to where our session was taking place (about a 10 minute walk away). Noby was fantastic, very welcoming, warm and kind, with some amazing stories to tell. A true professional, especially since the day we met was 35 degrees celsius, and about 90% humidity, to be conducting the session in full traditional Kimono, in that heat, was impressive.
Once we made it to the session's location, we were made at home, and Noby began with showing us the great history of the Kimono, and the different styles that are used for different occasions. Then we were all sized up and dressed in a traditional Kimono.
Now the ones for men are much simpler to have put on with minimal layers, however the women's formal kimono is so intricate and a piece of art. Rachel picked her favourite colour combinations and then Noby added the layers to Rachel, which surprised me, since it was a lot more then I ever thought it would be. The end result was spectacular, Rachel looked immaculate and beautiful, and was comfortable -- that was the most amazing part, the way the layers all work together, it actually is comfortable.
It was too hot for me, so after some photos, I took my kimono off, however the others stayed in theirs for the whole session. Noby was so hospitable, and took Rachel out and down the road to a lovely little park / lane way with cherry blossoms lining a canal and got some priceless pictures!
Up next we got a lesson in Ikebana, the traditional Japanese art of flower arranging, here we were taught how many aspects of the arrangement are about what isn't in it, the use of lines, shapes, and angles, and the use of all parts of the flower and plants.
Set up was freshly cut flowers, leaves and branches, and three stations for us all to create our own ikebana arrangement. Rachel was clearly the winner here, with her professional instincts, picking up the lessons and techniques of ikebana quickly. Noby was on hand to give advice and a helping hand too, and with her expert eye and guide, we ended up with some great arrangements (if only we lived in Japan to take them home!).
We ended the afternoon with a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, which was performed by Noby in another room on tatami mats. Noby prepared the tea and explained the history and each step of the procession, and then we all went through each step and enjoyed the tea, and a lovely red bean treat.
The whole experience was just shy of 3 hours, though it did seem much longer. Noby was amazing as an instructor and host, and made us feel so welcomed, all while speaking perfect English. The information and teachings she provided were amazing, we truly found this to be one of the most unique and best experiences we have had in Japan.
Just take Rachel's testimony below:
japanese-culture.jp were amazing to deal with from the very start, their website was easy to use and the whole time leading up to the day, they kept us informed, and were happy to answer any questions, and fast. The day itself was spectacular, informative, fun, and we learnt so much. It was a true Japanese experience of many cultural facets that normally are seen through history books and museums alone.
The whole experience was something we will never forget. Japlanning recommends anyone going to Japan, looking for a hands on cultural experience to visit japanese-culture.jp and see what experiences interest you most.
If you're in Tokyo we absolutely recommend your experience the Ikebana & Tea Ceremony wear Kimono experience by Noby. You can see the full details and book this session directly here.