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Experience Asakusa

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“Where can I try some unique Japanese cultural experiences in Tokyo?”

We often get asked a variation of “where can I enjoy some real Japanese experiences in Tokyo?” on the Facebook Japan Travel, Friendly Discussion Group. Unfortunately, the search field and files section of Facebook Groups is still somewhat limited and the information cannot be easily found.  I’m sharing suggestions here, that I have given, in the hope that it is more easily accessible for future queries of a similar nature. These places advertise that they have English speaking staff.

This is for the Asakusa area only. If you would like to share other places for the benefit of others,  that would be greatly appreciated. 🙂  Please scroll down to the bottom of the article to see each place mapped on Google with address and other information.

Disclaimer: I have NO affiliation to any of these establishments, nor do I get anything for promoting them! All images are taken from the official websites for each shop or service.

Taiko Drums

Image taken from the official website: http://www.taiko-center.co.jp/english/class/images/tokyo/tokyo-class_03.jpg

The traditional drum in Japan is called a Taiko.  For many the sound of a taiko drum is synonmous with summer festivals.  The Taiko Lab in Asakusa offers a rare chance to experience Taiko drums without signing up for months of classes.  You need to book in advance and they will try to cater to the date and time that suits you best. The application for this is handled by the Taiko Centre (English information): http://www.taiko-center.co.jp/english/class/tokyo-class.html

Information about Taiko Labhttp://www.taiko-center.com/taiko-lab%E3%81%AE%E3%81%94%E6%A1%88%E5%86%85/ Choose the English option from the drop-down box on the right.

Kanji

Kanji is the Japanese writing using Chinese characters.  At Kanji House in Asakusa you can get your name written for you, or join a class, or even take a guided tour. The tour involves a local guide and a kanji calligraphy writing of your name to take home! They have staff and guides who speak English  and most of their clients are foreigners.

Image taken from the official website: http://kanji-house.com/assets/images/top3.png

If you want to try your hand at writing a kanji of your choice you can do a calligraphy class for 30 minutes.  They do require that you make  a reservation at least 24 hours in advance. They have full information in English on their website: http://kanji-house.com/service_price.html  and the reservation form is here: http://kanji-house.com/contact.html

Origami

The age old and majestic paper folding craft is a fun (and therapeutic) activity, offering a glimpse into the Japanese custom of precision and detail.  The afore mentioned Kanji House also offers an origami class for just 500 yen (summer 2016 price) for 30 minutes. Information available in English on their website: http://kanji-house.com/service_price.html . Reservation form: http://kanji-house.com/contact.html

Dressing up in Kimono

Dressing up in a kimono is something unique to Japanese culture. Kosode near to Asakusa subway station offer kimono rental, dressing and hair styling for both men and women. They have yukata (summer kimono) in the hot months too. They have information and a booking form in English on their website: http://paull.jp/asakusa/english/index.php

Moku Hanga Print

Moku Hanga is a technique used in ukiyo-e, a genre of art. Mokuhankan is a relatively new shop offering woodblock prints. The owner is a England born Canadian. You can experience his tutelage in an hour long workshop. You can book from a calendar on their English content website: http://mokuhankan.com/parties/index.php

Replica Food Production Workshop

Showroom of Replica Food made from wax

Replica Food are wax samples of what a restaurant’s (/shop’s) food looks like, displayed in the restaurants window. Ganso Shokuhin Sample Shop Kappabashi Showroom displays a great selection of replica food. Even better: you can book to try your hand at making your own replica food samples. Information in English on their website: http://www.ganso-sample.com/en/shop/kappabashi/

However, you need to book for the workshop by phone at 0120-17-1839.  The workshops are held at 11am, 2pm and 4pm and take between 60 and 75 minutes. It costs 2,160 yen per person (summer 2016 price).

Jidaiya

Jidaiya is a fantastic service offering a range of typical and age old Japanese experiences. Here is a list of some of them;

Rickshaw Ride

Photo taken from the official website: http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono0

Kago (basket palanquin) Ride

Photo taken from the official website: http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono0

Tea Ceremony

Paper Lantern making

Photo taken from the official website: http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono0

Fan Throwing Game

Photo taken from the official website: http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono0

Japanese Traditional Entertainment and Performances

Information for all of these can be found on their English webpage:

http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono2

 

All of the places listed above are perfect, if you want to try some real hands-on experiences during your stay in Japan.  Most of these places advise booking in advance.  Below you can see the locations of each place marked on a google map.

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6 easy activities with Valentine’s Origami hearts for preschoolers

Reposting from last year as it has proved very popular both with my own kids and as a blog post. 🙂

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These simple origami hearts, suited to young children and Origami beginners, were a big hit with my toddler and preschooler today. You can find the instructions and a printable version on Origami Club here, a photo of the instructions is also pictured below. The instructions are in Japanese, but each step comes with a visual that is easy to follow. Four year old was able to complete this from the visual instructions with no assistance, three year old needed some help. All you need is Origami paper or symmetrical paper that holds a crease.

Instructions for Origami hearts were taken from http://www.origami-club.com/valentine/easyheart/easyheart/index.html
Instructions for Origami hearts were taken from http://www.origami-club.com/valentine/easyheart/easyheart/index.html

After making some hearts, I came up with a few games using the hearts, that incorporated numbers, letters, reading and writing practice. We used recycled origami paper from other crafts to make 30 hearts.

1. ABC Origami hearts

When you finish folding the heart the front parts open up so you can write on the inside of the heart. We wrote a letter of the alphabet on the left hand side of the inside of 26 hearts.

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2. ABC match

Next, using our large ABC foam mat, we did a physical activity with the hearts. The kids got a heart each, opened it to see what letter they had, then matched it to the letter on the ABC foam mat. Once they correctly placed a letter they took another and raced to place it. They really enjoyed this activity.

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3. Word heart match

On the right hand side of the inside of the hearts I wrote various 3 and 4 letter words. I then put out a picture card with 3 worded hearts, one of which matched the picture. The kids had to match the correct word to the picture.

4. Claiming hidden hearts

Kids love to find hidden things, right? Hide the hearts (with words if you’ve done activity 3 above) around a room and have the kids find them. For older children, have them read the words inside the heart to claim that heart.

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5. Counting hearts on hearts

This one is based on a very easy activity on toddlerapproved.com I (heart) counting with numbers one to ten. For our version I drew 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 hearts onto 6 origami hearts. Get the kids to count out the hearts and then place the right heart on the right number.

6. Heart Cards

Finally, we turned the hearts that didn’t have too much writing on them into Valentine’s cards, by writing a message on the inside.

This filled up a whole afternoon with fun and number, letter, reading and writing practice to boot! And thanks to these activities I got my first ever Valentine’s card from my four year old, written by himself, unaided and unbeknownst to me IN ENGLISH* “I love you Mammy”. (*English is his 2nd language so usually cards are in Japanese… or squiggles!)

Easy Hina Matsuri Origami Dolls

Origami dolls

This is a really easy origami craft that preschoolers and origami beginners can enjoy. All you need is the free A4 printables available on HappyLilac.net.  You don’t need to be able to read Japanese. The blue Dairi-sama printable can be found here. The pink Hina-sama printable can be found here.  My 4 year old was able to complete his origami dolls without assistance, using the easy to follow visual guide here on HappyLilac.net  . Again Japanese reading ability not required as the method is shown step-by-step in photos, as pictured below. Three old was also able to do most of the folding herself, she just need a little help for the last fold. They really enjoyed this easy craft and were very proud of their origami dolls!
Origami instructions for hina dolls

More easy Hina Matsuri crafts to follow during the week!

 Other Hina Matsuri Crafts

 

Hina Matsuri Paper Cup Craft for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Hina Matsuri is the Doll’s festival celebrated annually for Girl’s Day on March the 3rd in Japan. Families display their Imperial dolls on tiered platforms or in a case from early Febru…

Source: insaitama.com/hina-matsuri-paper-cup-craft-for-toddlers-and-preschoolers/

2 minutes easy paper craft – Spiders

For the month of October I hope to do a Halloween craft a day with my kids. Today’s craft is an extension of a craft we frequently do when we read “The Very Busy Spider” by Eric Carle and make spider webs with paper, string and tape. Normally we draw the spiders in the web, but with Halloween approaching I want to decorate the house with various homemade Halloween crafts. These paper spiders are a great start to our decorations and a fun way to get in the spirit of Halloween. Of course this is also a good activity to do in conjunction with The Very Busy Spider. This craft is recycled from materials used for the paper ice-cream craft.

You will need

  • previously made paper ice-cream or if making from scratch; a gachapon capsule or a shallow wide cup such as the cup on a flask, or a yoghurt carton would work too. We used origami paper, but you could easily use regular paper. You will also need some tissue.
  • pipe cleaners (chenille stems), tape, a scissors and a marker.
  • an elastic band if you want to hang the spider so that it moves in the wind or bounces when pulled.

We used the paper ice-cream scoops we made the other day for the spider’s body, you can find the step to step on that post, or here’s a recap;

1-Paper Ice-cream Cones recycled

The kids drew faces on them and then very simply we taped 4 pipe cleaners on each to make the 8 legs of the spider.  We cut elastic bands and taped them to the spider and hung them from the window frame. Easy, fun, no mess; my kind of craft!

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2 minutes easy paper crafts – Ice-creams

I turned on the TV to check the weather one morning this week and there was a crafts show for children on. They were making paper ice-cream. My little ones watched in awe, so it was only fitting that we gave it a try.

You will need a gachapon capsule or a shallow wide cup such as the cup on a flask, or a yoghurt carton would work too. We used origami paper, but you could easily use regular paper. You will also need some tissue and the cardboard of toilet or kitchen roll paper.

Half of a gachapon capsule;

gachapon capsule

Insert origami paper into the capsule / cup / yoghurt carton;

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Stuff one to two pieces (or as many as you like) of tissue paper into the origami paper;

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Fold the remaining origami paper over the tissue;

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Take the ice-cream scoop out;

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Cut the cardboard of the toilet roll in half, fold down one end to make a point;

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Place the origami ice-cream into the cone;

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It sits in quite well so I didn’t need to use tape, but you could use tape if you want to secure it better.  My kids enjoyed this more than I expected, maybe because they had seen it on TV. They made paper ice-cream for over an hour, without needing supervision (score!). We ended up with a veritable paper ice-cream shop!


This activity could also be useful for Mothers on bedrest looking to do easy, restful activities with children.

More paper crafts on daysofourlifejapan.wordpress.com

Origami Hina Matsuri Dolls with free printable