Ito Ryokan is a great place to try some traditional Japanese experiences for yourself.
I had the pleasure of visiting this place and trying two distinct experiences: a shamisen class and a Japanese calligraphy class. Let me tell you what it was like.
Ito Ryokan is a small traditional Japanese hotel located in the central part of Tokyo. It is not often you find a traditional-style hotel in the center of large cities, but the thing that makes it really stand out from other such places is that it offers several types of unique experiences.
As I said earlier, I had the chance to try two different experiences. The first one was a shamisen class. Shamisen is a Japanese type of guitar with three strings, and the other class was a calligraphy class.
I made my way through the smaller back streets of Tokyo until I found myself in front of Ito Ryokan. This traditional-looking building really fit the image my imagination had of the place; it felt like something inspired by traditional Japan.
I made my way inside and was greeted by the staff members, who showed me to the room where the experiences would be held. There, I waited for the sensei to arrive.
The first thing on my list was to try the shamisen experience. As I said before, shamisen is a type of traditional Japanese guitar with three strings. It can be made of different materials, but the traditional way of making it is with wood and dog or cat skin, while the pick used to play with it is made out of ivory.
It’s a bit smaller than a usual guitar, but still, it’s similar so if you have some sort of experience with it, you’re gonna feel at least a little bit comfortable.
I, unfortunately, did not have any prior guitar experience, but still, I quickly managed to figure out how to play, thanks to detailed instructions and demonstrations from the sensei. She is an expert shamisen player who has been doing this for many decades.
She taught me how to play a traditional Japanese children’s song called Sakura and how to sing it as well. All in all, it was a very fun experience, and I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a music fan or if you play some instruments. It’s a great opportunity to learn something new.
The second experience I tried was a Japanese calligraphy class. This time another sensei taught me how to do this. She explained everything about the history of calligraphy and how ink is prepared.
We talked about how to convey emotions through calligraphy, so depending on how you draw the lines, it can have a different meaning. Bold, thick lines usually convey stronger emotions like happiness or anger, while thin lines indicate sadness and so on.
We practiced several different styles, and after figuring out the basics, I tried my hand at creating some original artwork. She even provided me with a fan on which I could draw my name and use it for myself, thus creating a unique souvenir.
It was really fun doing all the calligraphy and I decided to pursue the hobby on my own when I got back home.
All in all, my visit to Ito Ryokan was a really fun activity. Trying these two experiences really made me appreciate this aspect of Japanese culture even more, and I have to say I’m really glad I did it. I got a new hobby in calligraphy, and all the staff members and the sensei were really kind and helpful. They spoke really good English and I had absolutely no problem with anything that they helped me resolve.
I highly recommend this place to anyone who wants to try a unique traditional Japanese experience in Tokyo – you will not regret it. Of course, you can also book a stay in the ryokan as well if you are looking for traditional accommodation in Tokyo. Check out their website to learn more!