If you have already read the book ‘Beato Goes To Japan‘ you have probably learned a few new things about Japanese food, culture and sports and are eager to try them out for yourself! Here are a few things you can try at home to immerse yourself in Japanese culture. When you get to Japan, you will already be so knowledgeable…
Start With a Stretch
Japanese people created a morning exercise routine even before workout videos and gyms were invented! For last 70 years, people in Japan have been waking up to rajio taisō (radio calisthenics) on TV and NHK radio – which guides you through a three-minute routine of low-impact stretching, bending and jumping. Combining bright piano music and voiceover, it’s a much-loved part of Japanese culture. Give it a go via YouTube – whether in your workout gear or Pikachu costume.
Learn to Write in Calligraphy
In Japan, Beato learned to write his name 3 different ways, using paint brush strokes. Calligraphy is not just a writing form, it looks beautiful, and helps you relax your mind. Buddhist monks often practice calligraphy as a way to meditate and be in the moment. Watch this YouTube tutorial on how to learn to write in calligraphy.
Making paper cranes and boats is one of my favorite pastimes. It helps me focus, relax, and create something pretty. All you need is some origami paper and tutorials on how to make different shapes. With practice, you will get better and faster, even as good as a real geisha!
See The Cherry Blossoms
Near my house in Atlanta, I can find lots of cherry blossom trees blooming in the Spring. I always stop to take a look at them and take photos of the bright pink flowers. The Japanese tradition of hanami (cherry blossom viewing) can be practiced from home by spying on Tokyo’s pink-petalled Chidorigafuchi moat via the live Sakura Cam, or by browsing the Smithsonian’s stunning collection of blooming artworks.
Perfect Your Sushi Rolls
For a taste of Japan, learn to make miso soup, sushi, tempura, yakitori or Japanese omelets. Sushi making requires some art and skill, but the results are delicious! You will need to get fresh fish and a few other ingredients, such as sushi rice, seaweed wrap, sesame seeds, pickled ginger, soy sauce, and vegetables. You can also buy a ready-to-go sushi kit from Asian stores. Check out free recipe tutorials at sushisushi.co.uk.
Have a Japanese Tea Ceremony
In Japan, you will see tea houses everywhere. People take time to sit, relax and slowly brew and sip tea in Japan. It is relaxing and the teas are packed with antioxidants. Brew Japanese sencha green tea with hot water, use ceramic or stone tea cups, sit on the floor and listen to Spotify’s ‘Japan Top 50’ playlist, for your Japanese tea ceremony.
Anime are traditional Japanese cartoons with lots of artistry, and rich stories. Some of the 21 must-see Ghibli films this year include My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997) and Spirited Away (2001) – all available now on netflix.com.