For many people, the mention of Japanese culture conjours up images of weird
masks and extravagantly made-up actors twirling red umbrellas
on a stage and elegant, kimono-clad ladies demurely pouring cups
of tea in tranquil cherry-blossomed temples. Well, even today
you can still experience all that kind of stuff, if you know where
The traditional arts of Japan offer an opportunity to experience
something truly exotic or find inner calm. For the serious practitioner,
solemn awareness of the history and intimate knowledge of the
past-masters of your chosen form of expression are essential if
you wish to practice at the highest level. These
ancient 'ways' are not for the faint of heart, but many foreigners
come to Japan each year to enlighten themselves through their
study. For the rest of us, just a nibble at this great banquet
of culture will be more than enough.
The Japanese do know how to kick back and have fun, too. You
might be surprised by just how wild a Japanese festival can get!
Snow festivals, fire festivals, fertility festivals - you name
it, they have it. When it comes to food, the Japanese are as enthusiastic
as anybody on earth - the changing seasons bring new delicacies and an
excuse to travel the length of the country to sample local dishes.
Spring also brings the cherry blossoms - symbol of life's all-too-brief
span and a good excuse to get drunk and dance around in a cemetery!
The beauty of summer fireworks and autumn's spectacular changing
leaves can also take the breath away.
The Japanese performing arts have made some unique contributions to world culture
The quieter and more contemplative arts have developed followings world-wide
Japanese royalty has a history dating back many centuries
Many cultural events fill out the annual calendar, with something in every season
Japanese costume is unique, differing greatly even from those of other Asian cultures
Japanese food, sushi in particular, is popular arould the world and renowned for its health benefits