How long have you been living in Japan? A year? Two? Five? Or maybe you have just moved here? Regardless, I’m sure that in the back of your head you already have a certain image of Japanese traditions. Yet let’s be honest — have you had a chance to really experience some of the great things that Japan has to offer – Kimonos, tea ceremony, cherry blossoms, calligraphy, flower arranging, sushi, unique sweets and more?
Recently the number of foreigners living in and visiting Japan has increased significantly and the ‘typical Japanese’ tourists attractions are popping up around every corner.
We have gotten used to the crowded tea ceremonies (performed with chairs and tables), as well as street kimono rentals, where people can pose in front of faded bamboo wallpaper for 5 minutes. But… Is that what Japanese traditions are about? No, the real spirit of Japan is still alive.
What if I told you that you could experience the best of these in the same place at the same time? You’d better get ready and book yourself a day off on June 25th for Japanese Culture Fair!
What brought me to Nakamura Park, in the west part of Nagoya, was not only a beautiful spring weather but primarily a one of a kind Japanese Culture Fair which is held in the Memorial Hall every month.
I must confess I had expected rather loud stage presentations which is characteristic of Japanese festivals, ubiquitous takoyaki booths and all that you might imagine. But luckily I was delightfully surprised.
Once inside, I discovered a mellow and chilled-out atmosphere which delightfully took me aback. Some people were already there, learning how to make Japanese traditional sweets. A young girl nodded with a smile from above the calligraphy table, somebody else had started the tea ceremony in the back of the main room. Gentle sounds of the koto (a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument) were floating in the air on the way to the flower arranging area, and in that short moment, I knew I was in the right place at the right time.
Unsure what to start with, I followed my girly instincts and went through a charming garden straight to the kimono fitting pavilion.
Do I have to tell you how amusing it was to get dressed like a Japanese princess by a professional kimono fitter, who traveles around the world teaching about kimono? And then to get served high-quality matcha tea together along with hand — made confectionery? And, in the end, I took home a bunch of beautiful flowers arranged after a the traditional Ikebana instruction? Strolling (or rather tip — toeing) around the pavilions in my Sunday geta, traditional Japanese footwear, I kept asking myself — when was the last time I got spoiled this much?
I learned all of these things from professionals who were passionate and it was an unforgettable experience. There was plenty of time to try everything, ask questions and discuss. It was interesting, it was pleasing, and it was fun! Trust me — you can’t say you know the real Japan without taking part in this event. Make sure not to miss the opportunity!
The Japanese Culture Fair is bilingual (Japanese and English) and the admission fee is all-inclusive, so there are no extra fees to worry about. The cost is ¥5000 at the door, or if you purchase your ticket two weeks in advance you will get a ¥1000 discount (in Kyoto it would cost more than ¥6000 to ¥7000 just to wear a kimono –check that out for value!)