Recently Monique and I missed an opportunity to learn authentic Kyoto cooking in the home of Emi Hirayama. Quite frankly it was a bit of a bummer.
On the up-side when I asked Emi if she could recommend a similar kind of experience she suggested WAK Japan. And their website left me very impressed.
What is WAK Japan?
WAK is a grassroots organisation that was founded by Michi Ogawa in 2001. Why was it founded? Because Michi Ogawa saw two gaps in front of her.
One in the local tourism market and one in the culture of Kyoto. Michi realised that travellers visiting Kyoto were keen to have an authentic Japanese experience where they could meet people and learn something. There’s a sentence on the website that reads ‘if you’re all temple’d and shrine’d out.’ This is a great reflection of many people’s thoughts on travelling:
Seeing things is great. Doing things is better.
On the other hand Michi perceived that there was a wealth of hidden talent in the housewives of Kyoto that was being kept behind closed doors. Over their lives, these women have developed keen artistic talents but were unsure how to share them with people, particularly foreigners.
So Michi brought these two gaps together and created WAK. On the ‘Why WAK’ page Michi says: ‘It has been 12 years since the company was established, and now we see over 100 women are actively working for WAK JAPAN. We continue to provide these excellent housewives with chances to introduce Japanese culture to overseas visitors.’
Isn’t that just freaking cool!?
I LOVE these sorts of people – people who see an opportunity to bring enjoyment and value to people and just do it.
So what can I do at WAK?
WAK offers a really wide range of things to learn and do including:
- Tea Ceremony
- Ikebana (Flower Arranging)
- Maiko & Geisha
- Others – including Book Binding, Dance, Japanese Language lessons and Taiko (Drum Beating)
Wow! I feel completely spoiled for choice.
The great thing about the website is you can make an inquiry and/or booking for nearly any activity online and you can browse activities by price making it an easy, interactive and friendly service to use.
For each activity you can choose to learn at WAK or at the home of one of the instructors. Learning in the home of an instructor is more expensive but (!) keep in mind that the price includes taxi transfers and all the materials required for your lesson. If you supply WAK with the name of your hotel literally everything is taken care of.
We’re not too sure what we’ll be taking but I’m pretty keen on Calligraphy, Origami, Food/Sake or Ikebana. Seen as we’re in Kyoto for such a short time I guess we’ve got some decisions to make! Exciting!
So, as they say, when one door closes another one opens and I think Emi has recommended the perfect door for us to knock on.
Until next time,
Kally & Mon.
Want to find out what WAK was actually like? Read all about it here.
[Feature Image Credit: Flickr – Thenomsters]
Have you had a lesson at WAK or another similar business? Was it the most awesomest thing you ever did? Tell us all about it in a comment!