What do you do when you visit a foreign country? Do you merely drink in the sights and sounds or do you prefer to be a hands on traveler? I would like to categorize myself under the latter group. Seeing and hearing is most definitely part of any travel experience of mine but actually tasting, touching, and living the local culture raises the experience to a whole new level.
Japan is definitely on the top of the list of worldwide tourist destinations and what better place to experience its culture than Kyoto? This city is arguably the best place to experience the real¯ Japan. Jane Singer actually wrote a very inspiring article about this. She shares:
For these travelers, visiting Kyoto, the 1,200-year-old cultural heart of Japan, without experiencing the culture is too much of a virtual experience. Why restrict yourself to the sights alone when you can feel the smooth embrace of silk kimono, taste the bitter froth after whisking up a cup of powdered green tea, or hear the reverberation when you pound on a taiko drum?
For these experiential travelers, Kyoto offers a growing menu of taiken hands-on tours in English, and I recently sampled a few. The first was at Shunkoin temple, one of 48 sub-temples in the sprawling Myoshinji Buddhist temple complex in western Kyoto, where the affable young English-speaking vice abbot, Takafumi Kawakami, leads a tour of the temple and gardens and two 15-minute sessions of Rinzai Zen meditation.
The next time you plan on going to this part of the world, you should try what she tried. Even if it is not your first visit, you just might return home with something new.