In 2020, due to the worldwide spreading of the novel coronavirus, there aren’t many opportunities to travel. An increasing number of people are enjoying simulated travel experiences through videos and web services. When you start looking on the web, you will find a lot of interesting content, like travel agencies launching online sightseeing or photo albums on travel sites.
Today, we will introduce 5 fun online experiences that will allow you to enjoy Japanese culture and traditions, and food through an online experience that will make you experience Japan to its fullest, looking even into sweets art, samurai galleries, and lectures on how to draw manga.
Let’s dive in!
- Table of Contents
- An Airbnb online experience using ZOOM!
- 1. "Revealing Kyoto" - Learn about the heart of Kyoto/Kyoto Zen Gardens and Kyoto Zen Mind
- 2. "The Art of Making Japanese Mochi": Neri-kiri art instructor and making rice-cake sweets
- 3. "Learn to Draw with Japan's Manga University": Learn how to draw a manga character from a professional cartoonist!
- 4. "Sake Secrets from Japan's Oldest Brewery": An introduction to Japanese sake for beginners by the 23rd generation head of a sake brewery in Tokyo
- 5. "Learn and Train with Samurai in Tokyo"
An Airbnb online experience using ZOOM!
Airbnb is one of the largest marketplaces for traveling and looking for unique rooms and accommodations to best fit your traveling needs. There are more than 7 million listings in 100,000 cities spread across 220 countries around the world. Also, since April 2020, hosts have been conducting various online experiences at https://www.airbnb.com/s/experiences/online.
The online experiences tend to be a video session for a small group, streamed live via ZOOM. You can participate from anywhere, using a PC, tablet, or smartphone. This service allows you to interact with your host online and connect with many people from all over the world.
While there are plenty of online-experience services originating in Japan for you to fully enjoy Japanese culture and traditions, we’re picking up five unique ones to share with you!
1. "Revealing Kyoto" - Learn about the heart of Kyoto/Kyoto Zen Gardens and Kyoto Zen Mind
"Revealing Kyoto" is a multi-part series online that delves into the heart of Japan. You can enjoy a 90-minute commentary on Japanese gardens by Andrew, an active gardener in Kyoto. All you need to enjoy this experience is pen and paper. Write some notes on the most exciting parts of the journey and write down questions.
Andrew is a landscape designer who has lived in Kyoto for 10 years. He taught himself eastern philosophy from his early teens and used his 16 years of gardening experience in the United States and Japan to provide his guests with a unique and heartfelt experience.
He is also the only non-Japanese person who graduated from the Kyoto Prefectural Landscaping Cooperative Vocational Training School, and has gained insight into Japanese culture and gardening techniques rarely seen by foreigners. You can enjoy an online experience that will have you immerse yourself in the mysterious nature of Kyoto for a unique and rare sightseeing journey.
The theme of October is "An Ancient Temple Transformed." It takes a look at Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple. To revive the temple, which had been heavily damaged during WWII, an art initiative saw people from all over the country gather to carve statues of Buddha from stone.
There is no doubt that you will be inspired and delighted, while following the artistic transformation of this temple, and feeling the power it emanates.
What people say:
"I did this tour with my husband and we both had a great time! The combination of recent footage from the temple and older documentary footage from the time of its relocation provide a detailed and personal history. Andrew is a great guide and took the time to answer each of our questions. Now we have another place to add to our list when we're able to travel to Kyoto!" (Lauren)
Details 90 minutes. Guide language: English. Price: Starting at 1,600 yen (as of November 12, 2020)
2. "The Art of Making Japanese Mochi": Neri-kiri art instructor and making rice-cake sweets
Our next recommendation is the experience of making mochi sweets with Miyuki, a certified Nerikiri art instructor. You will learn how to make mochi and also two recipes using mochi. This is a 90-minute course where anyone can easily learn how to make Japanese sweets while having fun.
The host, Miyuki, welcomes guests from overseas to teach her favorite dishes. The channel has welcomed more than 2,000 guests in Miyuki's kitchen in Tokyo over the past 6 years. She is also a travel enthusiast who has visited almost 40 countries so far. If you like making sweets and traveling, you will surely enjoy this experience.
Once you complete your reservation, you will receive a list of materials and tools you will need for your experience. To actually try your hand making Japanese sweets, you will need some tools and ingredients.
・Mochi flour or shiratamako, Joshinko or rice flour, potato starch or cornstarch
・Johakuto or granulated sugar
・Ichigo daifuku: your favorite ice cream
・Red and green food coloring
・Microwave oven, steamer, whisk, rubber spatula, measuring spoon, plastic wrap, bamboo skewer, bat, pot, fried shavings, cutting board, rolling pin
Using those tools and ingredients, you will learn to make strawberry daifuku, ice daifuku, and three-color dumplings. Learn the secrets of making mochi, one of the staples foods of Japan. Have fun kneading and enjoy the delicious food. It will be an undoubtedly satisfying online experience.
What people say:
"Miyuki made the delicate mochi easy to make. I also learned a lot about the history and culture of Japan through this online experience. Dango and Daifuku came out delicious!" (Ploy)
"This was a great experience! My partner and I took this class with a friend and her mother virtually, and it was so much fun. I didn't know what to expect, but it was worth it. Very simple instructions, so it's not too tricky, but Miyuki spends time with each participant to make sure they're on track. Miyuki was a great teacher and storyteller. I highly suggest this class.” (Dain)
Details 90 minutes. Guide language: English. Price: starting at 2,800 yen/person (as of October 20, 2020)
3. "Learn to Draw with Japan's Manga University": Learn how to draw a manga character from a professional cartoonist!
Manga is one of the aspects of Japanese culture that makes the country proud and known worldwide. Nowadays, manga and anime make people fall in love with Japan, and want to visit. Ever wanted to learn to draw your own characters? Learn from a professional manga artist! Get your pencils and paper ready, and draw an original character together.
The host, Ryo, is a professional Japanese manga artist who is active under the pseudonym Ryo Katagiri. She worked on many different styles and fields, from serializations in the popular manga magazine Shonen Sunday, to comic essays, illustrations, and overseas publications, throughout her 10 years of experience.
This online experience will show you how to draw manga characters from head to toe. The lecture starts with the most essential features: the face of the character.
Here you will learn the basics of drawing eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and hair. Then, in the body segment, you will learn how to draw hands, arms, and legs, based on the height of the character and body parts ratios for male and female figures. Finally, you will draw natural and three-dimensional clothes on your character.
During the lesson, you will also have time to ask questions, present your artwork to other participants, and give and receive feedback and advice. Beginners will enjoy this experience too.
What people say:
“This is a really great experience for anime and manga lovers as well as beginner and intermediate artists learning about Japanese manga style.” (Payton)
“The class was great. We were able to have lots of interaction and real-time feedback which allowed us to improve our drawings on the spot. Everyone was made to feel welcome and it was very inclusive. Also appreciated the follow up with the drawing. I would definitely recommend this experience.” (Julie)
Details: Duration: 90 minutes. Guide language: English/Japanese. Price: starting at 2,000 yen/person (as of November 12, 2020)
4. "Sake Secrets from Japan's Oldest Brewery": An introduction to Japanese sake for beginners by the 23rd generation head of a sake brewery in Tokyo
Japan's sake is becoming more and more internationally popular every year. The "Sake Secrets from Japan's Oldest Brewery" is hosted by Ryuta. You can casually learn about the history of sake, how it's made, and how to enjoy different types of sake with him.
Ryuta is the head of the largest sake brewery in Tokyo, which has been in business for 300 years and engages in activities like sake brewery tours for foreigners to introduce sake to as many people as possible. During this online experience, you can see the culture of sake, compare Japanese sake and wine, and gain knowledge that will make your next drink of sake more enjoyable and delicious.
What you need for this experience is Junmai Daiginjo, Junmai Ginjo, and Junmaishu. Also, cheese for snacks, and vanilla ice cream. This will be a space where you can casually chat and learn, while toasting with the other participants.
Make sure to listen to the tips Ryuta will share on how to make overseas friends enjoy sake more. This experience will help you familiarize yourself better with sake, while making new friends.
What people say:
"We had a blast learning about the history of sake as well as the brewing process and various styles. I'll definitely be able to use what I learned the next time I'm navigating a sake menu at a restaurant." (Fletcher)
"This was a super fun experience! We were already sake fans but we’re definitely going to drink it more often now. Ryuta is very funny and even though it was just two of us and him, it wasn’t awkward at all. I definitely recommend this experience!" (Theresa)
Details: 60 minutes. Language: English/Japanese. Price: 1000 yen/person (As of October 20, 2020)
5. "Learn and Train with Samurai in Tokyo"
If you like samurai, you will want to train with and learn from Samurai in Tokyo. The host, Koshiro, is the master and founder of the samurai art BUGAKU. This dynamic performing art is a cultural fusion of traditional Japanese martial arts and Noh, a traditional theatre style, loved by samurai.
Koshiro has more than 30 years of martial arts experience and has won three Higashi-Kuninomiya Imperial Awards for his contributions to Japanese culture and peace, and received an audience-selected award at the International Theatrical Prize held in Milan in 2019. Thanks to the experience he gained in his award-winning career, he will help you learn the samurai world through the practice of martial arts.
The experience begins with an introduction to BUGAKU and its background, moving into a detailed explanation of the samurai armor. The martial arts training follows! Learn basic samurai moves and positions, including wooden-sword moves, and even ninja walking.
You will not only practice form but also learn of the spirit and the way of thinking of the samurai. By the end of the experience, will you be able to become a true samurai, physically and mentally?
This experience is fun to look at as art, as well as entertaining in the learning of the body moves. Children and families can safely participate regardless of age. This experience is also attracting attention from global groups and companies for their workers.
What people say:
"Koshiro provided a fun and relaxed sword lesson, and his assistant did an excellent job explaining the history and culture of Samurai. It is quite a treat to speak live with someone on the other side of the world, and we appreciate their English speaking skills and their willingness to share with us." (Allison)
"Wonderful experience! Very unique and something that is so different to many of the online experiences out there. This experience has a great mix of culture, history, and martial arts! Thank you sensei and sensei's student for sharing your skills and knowledge!" (Clementina)
Details: 60 minutes. Language: English/Japanese. Price: 1,650yen/person (As of November 12, 2020)
*All prices and contents are subject to change
These are only a few of the many online experiences taking place in Japan and introducing many aspects of the country. Covid-19 surely created hard times, but it's nice to be able to participate to these experiences while staying at home. When you can finally travel again freely, you will enjoy it even more thanks to the knowledge gained through these experiences.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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