The hustle and bustle of modern Japan is quite easy to adjust to after living in it for a couple weeks, especially if you live in urbanized areas such as Tokyo or Osaka. But traditional Japan is a completely different experience. Upon arriving in Japan, I knew that I wanted to experience the whole spectrum of Japan, which is why I signed up for my internship, home-stay, and Japanese classes, as well as nearly all the school trips. Amongst the school trips was the Traditional Arts Workshop, which was a trip I definitely looked forward to attending. The location was designated to be at a local resident’s house.
Upon our arrival, our host introduced herself and her two friends and explained the Japanese phrase “ichigoichie” (一期一会) to our group. The phrase “ichigoichie” is a Japanese idiom literally translates to “one time, one meeting,” but is also often translated as “one chance in a lifetime,” or “for this time only,” to describe the cultural concept to treasure and cherish any gathering they partake in, because particular gatherings will never be replicated in the future, and thus, each moment is a once in a lifetime experience. Anyway, our host expressed her excitement to have the opportunity to meet us all, and asked us to join her in a prayer so that she could wish that our future is bright, and our stay in Japan is fruitful.
Afterwards, she demonstrated Ikebana (生け花), a traditional art of Japanese flower arrangement. Unlike the US, where the vase is very crowed and the type of flower used conveys a meaning, Ikebana values asymmetric arrangements where the vase shape, water in the vase, as well as areas intentionally left empty are all part of the art form. The focus is driven away from the specific types of flowers used, and more on how each different kind of flower contributes to the overall beauty of its arrangement.
Then our host entertained us by playing the Koto (箏), a traditional Japanese string instrument about 6 feet long that has 13 strings. She even allowed us to try it out!
The women were then directed to a different room to get changed into kimono while the men did calligraphy. When the women were done, the men got to wear Hakama (traditional Japanese clothing worn by samurai and courtiers during the Edo period) while the women did calligraphy.
Afterwards, we experienced a Japanese Tea Ceremony. We were instructed that when we were served, bows are exchanged to express gratitude. In Japan, candy and other sweets are eaten first, before tea is served. When the tea is served, we must use both hands to hold it and rotate the cup slightly twice before drinking from it.
If any of these activities sounds fun to you, I definitely recommend going to this workshop!
This past weekend was the Mt Koya & Nara school field trip! So in my next few posts, I’ll go into more details about the adventures we had! Since it was a three day trip, I definitely have a lot of stories to share. Please look forward to it!