Tea ceremonies, playful Harajuku style and all things zen in Japan

The world has always had an obsession with Japan - a country that seems to be living a couple of decades into the future.

WATCH: Why you should put enchanting, modern Japan on your bucket list

But truth be told, Japanese culture is extensive. Worldwide, it is most-likely known for its sushi, traditional arts, tea ceremonies and bonsai - but there really is so much more. 

Here are some of the cultural drawcards to shape your authentic Japan trip itinerary:

Martial arts 

Samurai Warriors and Sumo Wrestlers are a tradition unto themselves. The art-form of Karate has infiltrated the western world to be one of the most popular fighting disciplines globally. Karate began in the 14th century on the island of Okinawa and later introduced to mainland Japan in the 1920s. 

Geisha girls 

These highly-skilled and fascinating Japanese entertainers stem from the Edo era when Japan was largely cut-off from the outside world. Desired by rich merchants of the skills were not about the erotic, left more to the courtesans, but more about music, dance and poetry. Interestingly enough the first geishas were actually men dressed in the traditional garb. 

Harujuku Style 

This is a playful, colorful mix of girly and punk, popular among Japanese teenagers. This street style originated from a postwar combination of American and Japanese culture and formed mainly around the Harajuku district in Shibuya, Japan. 


There has been a surge of love for ramen, but it is nothing to match the craft of delicious sushi. Japan's most famous foodie export prepared with vinegared rice and accompanied by a variety of ingredients, such as seafood and vegetables.


As manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese animation) have become integral parts of modern Japanese life and culture, there is no way of escaping their influence wherever you go in the country. Without either of them, Japan would definitely not be the colourful and intriguing country that it is. 

Shinto and Buddhism 

Shinto or kami-no-michi is the traditional religion of Japan that focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. While Buddhism in Japan has been practiced since its official introduction in 552 CE and remains an influential aspect of the culture to this day. 

Tea Ceremonies

The Japanese tea ceremony is called Chanoyu, Sado or simply Ocha in Japanese. It is a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea, called Matcha, together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea. Steep in the authentic experience and zen out when you're back home by replicating the ritual.


The Japanese art of bonsai originated from the Chinese practice of penjing. From the 6th century onwards during the Kamakura period, Imperial embassy personnel and Buddhist students from Japan visited and returned from mainland China, bringing back souvenirs including container plantings.The Japanese developed Bonsai along certain lines due to the influence of Zen Buddhism and the fact that Japan is only 4% the size of mainland China.

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