Cultural Experience and Weekend Tours

    Students' impressions

    While the aim of the YAMASA institute is to improve the Japanese linguistic ability of its students, languages are not born in a vacuum; they are derived from a particular culture. Indeed, having a familiarity with this culture can make a positive impact on one’s study of Japanese.

    For this reason, YAMASA hosts ‘cultural experience’ classes and runs weekend tours for our students to fully experience the richness of Japanese culture.

    When asked recently about their impressions of these programs, YAMASA students:

    • Told us that their expectations of what they thought would happen vs. what actually did happen were exceeded in many cases.

    • Used the following adjectives to describe the classes and tours:

      ✔ amazing ✔ unexpected ✔ hospitable ✔ enjoyable ✔ educational
      ✔ convenient ✔ topical ✔ impressive ✔ interesting ✔ informative

    • Emphasized the support and guidance that they received from YAMASA staff (both teaching and support staff) that made their trip so enjoyable and educationally beneficial.

    • Were impressed with the flexible but organized character of these events. Enough time and freedom was given for people to fit in what they wanted to do but schedules were also adhered to.

    • Were delighted that they were allowed to actually put what they were being shown/taught into practice. This wasn’t in many cases restricted to making tea or doing calligraphy but often extended to things such as practicing throwing ninja stars!

    • Felt comfortable that their needs were given full attention during the tours/cultural experiences.

    Overall, most YAMASA students, if asked, would not hesitate to participate in another cultural experience or weekend tour as they are first hand opportunities to dive head first into Japanese culture while also practicing the Japanese that they are learning in class.

    What tours can I take?
    What cultural experiences can I be a part of?

    Cultural Experiences

    Below is a list of some of the cultural experiences that YAMASA offers.

    Name and Description
    Japanese Tea Ceremonies

    (茶道 Sado)

    A tradition that dates back to 8th century China which retains a strong connection to Zen Buddhism, tea ceremonies became popular in Japan around the 12th ceremony and have progressively evolved in to what we see today. Each tea ceremony is precisely planned with each movement having a purpose and meaning. Furthermore, those studying to become proficient sado practitioners often have to study for many decades to achieve competence.
    Sadou Culture Experience
    Flower Arranging

    (生け花 Ikebana)

    A highly skilled practice that was borne of Buddhist rituals, Japanese flower arranging is a practice with more than 600 years of history behind it. Emphasizing the Japanese people’s kinship and relationship with nature, the use of space and various forms of plant life; ikebana is much more than mere aesthetic decoration.
    Ikebana Culture Experience
    Wearing Kimonos


    Introduced to Japan from China during the 5th century, kimonos are full length garments of clothing that became fashionable in the 8th century and whose unique designs and patterns have changed over the generations. Worn at funerals, weddings and by sumo wrestlers when they appear in public, they are considered by the Japanese people as the most formal piece of clothing one can wear.
    Wearing kimonos


    Literally meaning ‘three strings’, the shamisen is a member of the lute family that was introduced to Japan during the 16th century. Able to be played solo or be accompanied by other instruments, shamisen music is often associated with geishas and kabuki and bunraku puppet theater.

    (書道 Shodo)

    Introduced when Chinese characters began to be embraced by Japanese society, shodo (literally the way of writing) is an art form taught to Japanese elementary school students that is also popular with many adults. Consisting of three main schools in contemporary times, calligraphy is not only visually appealing but also has a unique philosophical underpinning.
    Writing Culture Experience
    Japanese Painting

    (日本画 Nihonga)

    A counterweight to the western style paintings that were introduced to Japan during the Meiji period, Nihonga have thousands of years of history behind them. Presented either in monochrome or polychrome textures, ‘Nihonga’ uses paints made from all natural materials and take a significant amount of time and care to complete.
    Japanese painting

    (陶芸 Tougei)

    Pottery has been produced in Japan since the Neolithic period when Jomon ware was first created. Since it was first practiced, this art form has seen the introduction of various trends such as the introduction of kilns, glazing and the use of porcelain. Its influence is evident in places like Sanageyou (Aichi) and Minoyou (Gifu) kilns; locales that continue to thrive due to these hundred year old plus facilities.


    A martial art that differs from others due to its emphasis on self-defense, Aikido is based upon the philosophical and religious beliefs as well as the martial arts knowledge of its founder, Morihei Ueshiba. Translated literally as ‘the way of the harmonious spirit’, it stresses co-operating with the laws of nature rather than resisting them.

    Weekend Tours

    YAMASA runs tours to location in Aichi and beyond every Saturday for students enrolled at our institute.
    Tours that have been taken in the past have included:


    One of the most historical cities in Japan, Kyoto is home to Kiyomizudera (a UNESCO recognized world heritage spot that is a must for any tourist) Fushimi Inari Temple with it’s distinctive torii style gates, Gion, (one of the most recognizable Geisha districts in Japan) and Kinkaku temple (a temple which possesses a roof decorated with pure gold leaf).
    Ginkaku-ji, Kyoto
    Iga Ninja Museum

    Located in Iga, Mie Prefecture, the museum not only displays artefacts such as throwing stars and ninja clothing but also holds shows where trained ninjustu practitioners show off their skills. In addition to this, there is a recreation of the type of home a ninja might have lived in; complete with trap doors and revolving walls.
    Toyota Automobile Museum

    Much more than a museum devoted to Toyota, this is a tribute to the history of all automobiles dating back to the end of the 19th century. Not only are there cars produced by Toyota but also English, German and American made cars (including the bullet proof limousine that FDR was driven in).
    Toyota Automobile Museum

    Nara is the capital of Nara prefecture and, like Kyoto, is home to numerous unique Japanese cultural artifacts. Todai-ji temple is located in Nara (a temple located in Nara Park which is famous for the deer roaming its grounds) and is one of 8 different temples which have been collectively been recognized as a UNESCO listed world heritage site.
    Tatsunami Sumo Dojo

    This is one of the most prestigious stables of budding sumo wrestlers in Japan. It has been run by various administrators (many of whom were former sumo wrestlers themselves) and operates out of Aichi prefecture. When we previously visited, our students were able to sit down and share a meal with the wrestlers after their practice.
    Shirakawa Village

    Found amongst the mountain ranges of Gifu, Shirakawa Village is also listed as a world heritage site and features an architectural style known as ‘gassho-zukuri’. This style largely resembles a pair of hands praying thanks to the use of thatched rooves in the construction of ‘gassho-zukuri’ buildings. It is also next door to another world heritage site in Gokayama Village in Toyama Prefecture.
    Shirakawa village

    To find out more about our weekend tours, please refer to our student blog for latest updates.


    How much will I need to participate in a...
    Cultural experience The participation fees for a standard cultural experience are usually between 500 and 3000 yen but this can vary depending on the type of activity you participate in.
    Tour Tour fees can differ depending on YAMASA’s geographical proximity to the tour’s intended location (i.e. a trip to Tokyo will cost more than a trip to the Toyota Automobile Museum in Aichi). This being said, the average cost of a weekend tour is usually between 4,000 and 10,000 yen.

    Cultural Experience Schedule

    Weekend Tours Schedule


    Cultural tours are open to students currently enrolled at YAMASA. If you would like to see what courses are available to enroll in, please refer to our course comparison page.
    For enrolled students who wish join in one our weekend tours, please contact the Customer Service Center at YAMASA in person, or via e-mail at or by telephone on 81 (0)564-55-8111.