The WakJapan story begins here. By strange coincidence I got to re-experience coming to Japan for the first time. What does that mean you may wonder, well, here is what happened. I learned of a modeling for a company, however, thinking it would be like the rest of the rather boring modeling jobs that had come before -where, being poked by sewing needles and grinning at items as if they’ve come to save you- I only halfheartedly accepted. To my surprise, they insisted I try all the activities that are offered by their company and even listened to my opinion regarding what non-Japanese visitors may want or think. This is WakJapan, giving you a cheery and memorable experience in traditional Japanese arts and culture.
So how was it like a reintroduction to Japan? I got to try everything all over again from the beginning. The teacher’s were all extremely good natured, friendly and pretty funny to boot! Most of the teachers speak English and there will be English-speaking staff available at all times, you may also practice your Japanese on them, they won’t mind. Also, I finally got those explanations for things like Ikebana (flower arranging), who knew there was rhyme of reason behind which way we bend leaves and things?! The best part I would have to say was learning to cook Kyoto style and Japanese dishes. I made fried tofu teriyaki, the sauce too, my partner made chicken teriyaki and then we made our own side dishes for obanzai! Now for the best part… we got to eat it after we were done, and it was delicious. Obviously thanks to the teachers help!
A little more about the company, you may be interested in know that WakJapan has been around from 1997, and was created by a very sweet (now) older woman, a founding member of the Women’s Association of Kyoto. The original purpose of WakJapan was to introduce the culture of Japan by having guests visit local people’s homes. The business grew and now includes both local home visits as well as lessons at the company building.
Recently, WakJapan has opened a new location they call Washinkan. The Washinkan is a traditional Machiya house reconstructed to have all the amenities of modern times, with the traditional beauty of Japan. Keeping people with disabilities, difficulties with moving or those of a large frame in mind Washinkan was recreated with the utmost care. Remodeling of the stairs, halls and floors has been done, a chair lift to access the second floor, smooth floors, and wider stairs to allow easy mobility throughout the Machiya. Certified care providers are present as well, to accommodate various needs that may arise. Not only is the building great but the location is perfect as well. After you are done looking around the Kyoto National Museum, just turn the corner and you’re at Washinkan.
Lets talk about some more about the juicy details of Washinkan! Well, firstly, it makes you think “Japan.” Activities and lessons are not even limited to this lengthy list. Since we are on the topic of juicy! Get ready for a treat, Sado (Japanese tea ceremony) delicate Japanese sweets are involved, or, if you’d like a nice meal, how about learning to make traditional Kyoto cuisine. Regardless whether you have dietary restrictions or allergies, notifying the staff during your reservation guaranteed a perfect meal made especially for you. Those using a wheelchair can participate in cooking as well! Height adjustable tables are used for ease of use. If you’re already full and want take it easy, or feeling rather creative, try origami, shodo (Japanese caliigraphy), ikebana (flower arranging), and washi paper arts.
If you’re tired of sitting around and feel you haven’t had your fill of exercise in your travels, because lets admit it you’ve managed to eat nearly everything you’ve laid your eyes on, how about trying the various martial arts from the long time instructors of Kyoto? Aikido, karate or sword fighting is a fun way to learn about Japan. Or how about getting dressed up in traditional Japanese outfits; you’ll be made to look the very essence of Japanese elegance. Fortunately, unlike most other places the kimonos are the right sizes even for those with very large frames. One more item on this list; if you’ve been thinking perfect honeymoon location, why don’t you try performing your wedding ceremony here? And when I say here I actually mean a shrine and temple they are affiliated with, in traditional wedding kimonos no less!
533-3 Yamato-oji 1cho-me, Yamato-oji Shichijo agaru, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto city, 605-0933
Shichijo Station (Keihan line)
Washinkan: (0)75 533 6500
Head Office: (0)75-212 9993
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30am – 6:30pm