Getting cultured in Japan
Japan is a country like no other, a fascinating blend of modern and ancient, the big cities and the stunning natural wonders, the everyday life alongside the weird and the wonderful. The Japan you find will be different to other’s experience of it, as the culture of Japan is changing so rapidly from week to week and year to year.
The image of the Geisha, with the white face, red lips and elaborately decorated hairstyle is familiar to most people, and it is likely a sight you may come across while in Japan. The history and world of the Geisha, however, continues to remain something of a mystery to foreigners and even the Japanese themselves. Born out of the courtesan scene of the 18th Century, the Geishas are largely found in the city of Kyoto where around 100 still work in the traditional tea houses. It is said the traditional Geisha is being pushed out by the demands of the secular world and the competing entertainment on offer, but while some remain, they will form a central part of Japanese mythology.
The Japanese garden has its roots deep in the country’s heritage, and continue today to be popular sights for tourists to see. The gardens retain their inherent Japanese stylings but have been infiltrated by a multitude of International flavours that reflect the way of modern Japan. A traditional tea ceremony in a Japanese garden is a unique experience to consider.
A cultural experience in Japan almost always includes a night at the theatre, an art form the Japanese pride themselves on. The ShimbashiEmbujo in Tokyo is a fantastic place to sample some of theatre, with English translation available. One of the main genres is kabuki, which features a highly-stylised type of acting with an all-male cast. Puppet theatre is still very popular in Japan, and you can catch some Japan’s best dancing shows at the National Noh Theatre in Tokyo.
For those interested in Japanese history, samurai culture and the role this military class played in shaping Japan is a fascinating one. The samurai do not exist anymore, but the legend lives on through museums, popular culture, and cheap imitations around the globe. The images of the great warriors remain across Japan, ingrained in the image of the country as a whole. Any exploration of culture in Japan has to include the samurai warrior and its continued significance to the Japanese psyche.