Okura Hotels & Resorts, a time-honored Japanese hotel brand under Okura Nikko Hotel Management Co., Ltd., continues to add to its menu of activities for guests looking to immerse themselves in authentic Japanese culture.
The two latest additions—experiential workshops on Japanese culture—have been offered on an informal basis at its flagship Hotel Okura Tokyo since earlier this year, as there are an increasing number of culture lovers who are no longer satisfied with simple sightseeing and instead want to experience true Japanese culture.
The first offering is a Japanese table manner workshop offered by Yamazato, the highly regarded Japanese restaurant that has been delighting customers at Hotel Okura Tokyo since 1962. Bilingual instructors accredited by the Japan Hotel and Restaurant Service Development Association give participants a hands-on lesson in Japanese table manners while they enjoy a delicious kaiseki lunch of seasonal foods. Participants learn about holding, raising and placing utensils, the proper order to enjoy dishes and avoiding various faux pas.
The second offering is a tasting of Yamazato’s seasonal and premium saké, a fixture of traditional washoku Japanese cuisine that was inscribed in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2013. Participants can taste the respective characteristics of five complex yet delicate rice wine liquors of their choice or selected by Yamazato’s sommeliers from a vast collection of limited premium saké. Through the tasting of each saké from shot glasses, participants can learn the rich history of the brewing process.
The table manner course costs 12,000 yen per person (including food) and the sake tasting costs 2,700 yen or 5,400 per person, depending on the selection. Both programs are offered on a non-regular basis. For more details, please visit the hotel’s website or call Hotel Okura Tokyo at +81-3-3505-6070.
“Our founder, Kishichiro Okura, was fond of saying that a hotel, more than just a place to stay and rest, should bring people together to stimulate cultural and artistic exchanges. Hotel Okura Tokyo was built on the concept of making best use of Japanese traditional design patterns and atmosphere, and one of our traditions is to provide guests with firsthand experiences in authentic Japanese settings,” said Akira Nishimura, General Manager of Hotel Okura Tokyo.
These two latest experiential activities join a list of similar offerings available at other Hotel Okura venues in Japan and around the world. Examples include the following:
1. Tea culture: Kyoto Hotel Okura
Guests at Kyoto Hotel Okura select a favorite tea from among oriental varieties and then learn the special techniques of brewing their particular favorite tea in the Kaboku tearoom of Ippodo Tea Co., a trading house for nearly three centuries. The course can include breakfast—Western buffet or Japanese—at Irifune, a highly regarded restaurant overlooking a Japanese garden. Guests can make reservations via online.
2. Local traditions: Hotel Okura Fukuoka
Kenji Takayanagi, General Manager of Hotel Okura Fukuoka and a Fukuoka native, personally escorts guests to his city’s historic Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, plus a selection of favorite must-see attractions including a local shopping street and folk museum in Hakata. The tour, offered exclusively to guests on a non-regular basis, is free of charge and starts at 10am. Reservation is required at the front desk. For details, please call Hotel Okura Fukuoka at +81-92-262-1111.
3. Japanese cuisine: Hotel Okura Amsterdam
Hotel Okura Amsterdam’s Sazanka restaurant, Europe’s first Japanese teppanyaki restaurant that earned a Michelin star in 2014, offers private groups a full four-hour course in cooking washoku. Participants learn how to enrich their daily lives with the traditions of Japanese dietary culture in the hotel’s cookery studio. For reservations, guests can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +31-20-6787-450.
Ryutaro Suzuki, PR Director of Okura Nikko Hotel Management, said: “We are proud to serve as a Japanese cultural ambassador by creating unique opportunities for guests to experience many of the fascinating delights of traditional Japan. Going forward, we hope to delight our highly discriminating guests with additional experiential activities through unfailing attention to the tiniest of details.”