Greater Tokyo's Cultural CharmKanagawa / Tokyo / Niigata / Nagano
Explore an array of traditional Japanese crafts with a 3-day cultural tour across four prefectures. Starting in Kamakura, participate in four unique workshops and then end your journey with an atmospheric stroll through the historic streets of Narai-Juku. For this trip, we recommend a combination of car and train travel.
Design a personal seal in charming Kamakura
Famous for its shrines, temples, and seasonal flowers, Kamakura is a wonderful place to begin your cultural exploration of Japan, and Kamakura Mind—a company that seeks to connect visitors to authentic Japanese experiences—is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the traditional culture.
Find out how your name is written in Japanese with the Hanko Seal class! During this experience, the shop will show you several ways to write your name in Japanese and will help you create a personalized name seal and one-of-a-kind souvenir. The experience takes about 45 minutes, and after settling on the design, the shop will carve your hanko seal. You can pick up your seal anytime in the afternoon. For this course, we recommend joining the 10:00 class, so you have ample time to explore Kamakura, pick up your seal, and travel to your next workshop in Tokyo!
by train from Kamakura Station to Shimbashi Station on the Yokosuka Line
by train from Shimbashi Station to Gaienmae Station on the Ginza Line
Join a traditional kintsugi workshop in Tokyo
Kintsugi, which roughly translates to "golden joinery" in English, is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with either liquid gold or silver or more commonly, gold- or silver-dusted lacquer. Join a kintsugi workshop in Tokyo to create your own one-of-a-kind piece of pottery. The city is home to numerous facilities that host classes — some even allow you to bring your own pottery to mend!
Join a 30 to 90-minute kintsugi class at Tsugu Tsugu, and learn how to restore plates or create chopstick rests and earrings with a kintsugi-like method. The classes' prices range from 4,400 to 6,600 yen.
At Taku Nakano CeramicArts☆, don a samue (traditional Japanese work clothes) and learn kintsugi from one of Japan's leading kintsugi masters. The workshops start at 6,600 yen.
As the above prices are subject to change, please make sure you check the official websites for the most up-to-date information.
After your workshop, travel to Niigata and spend the night in Sanjo, which is located near your morning activity—blacksmithing!
by JR Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Tsubamesanjo Station
by train from Tsubamesanjo Station to Kita-Sanjo Station on the JR Yahiko Line
walk from Kita-Sanjo Station to Sanjo Blacksmith Dojo
Create your own iron souvenir at Sanjo Blacksmith Dojo
Sanjo Blacksmith Dojo opened in 2005 as an experience facility aimed at introducing people to and promoting blacksmith techniques. The dojo offers three permanent courses—knife sharpening, Japanese nail making, and letter opener-making—as well as one-off courses throughout the year. We suggest that you choose either the Japanese nail-making or letter opener-making class as the knife sharpening class requires you to bring your own knife. Learn how to heat, polish, cut, and shave iron, as well as shape it with a hammer. Reservations are not required for up to three people. Conditions vary for group reservations with four or more people so please check the website.
In the interest of time, joining the 9:00–11:00 class will help ensure you have enough time to reach your unique accommodation for the evening. For the remainder of the trip, we recommend that you rent a car, with numerous car rental facilities to be found around Tsubamesanjo Station.
by car from Sanjo Blacksmith Dojo to KURABITO STAY
Become a sake brewer at KURABITO STAY
Located in an over 300-year-old brewery and nestled in the sake-making region of Saku, KURABITO STAY is an immersive lodging experience where guests take on the roles of sake brewers. The refurbished accommodation is the former living quarters of past brewers and features a simple, yet modern wooden interior that is reminiscent of the woodwork in the sake brewing facilities where guests can experience the simulated life of a brewer.
The facility offers two-day or three-day brewer experiences throughout the year. During your stay, learn about sake's cultural significance and the depth of its flavor as you participate in real sake brewing processes that yield actual products, not imitations. Outside the brewer experience, stroll through the surrounding area's streets, visit temples and shrines, enjoy local delicacies paired with sake, and have fun with your fellow brewers. At the end of your stay, you will receive a certificate from the facility to prove you participated in the experience program.
by car from KURABITO STAY to Narai-Juku
Walk along Narai-Juku's preserved streets
After a multi-day journey of designing, crafting, forging, and creating traditional crafts and sake, relax with a pleasant stroll through the Narai-Juku's streets. As one of the wealthiest post towns on the Nakasendo Trail—a route that connected Tokyo to Kyoto—Narai-Juku serves as an aesthetic snapshot of Edo period Japan (1603–1868). The area is home to stone streets lined with quaint wooden shops and restaurants and even features two preserved residences that you can explore. For visitors able to stay longer, Narai-Juku offers several minshuku accommodations for overnight stays — good for those taking advantage of the hiking opportunities along the Nakasendo Trail.
Bright lights, bustling markets and outstanding restaurants draw tourists to Tokyo from all over the world. Yet, many are unaware of the opportunity for unforgettable experiences that exist in the areas surrounding the city. Discover ancient Japanese customs, stunning natural sites and curious traditions in Greater Tokyo.