One day, when I was checking Instagram, photographs of travelers to Japan attracted my eyes. They were enjoying Japanese calligraphy and Japanese cooking in the photographs.
The more I saw photographs of the travelers and a woman who was teaching Japanese calligraphy and Japanese cooking to them with nice smiling in her classroom in Tokyo, the more I would like to meet her. Then, I asked her to interview, and she was kind enough to accept my offer. （I really appreciate her kindness! ）
In this article, I would like to introduce Ms. Wakana. She runs “Wakalture Experience” at her home near Akihabara. Wakalture Experience holds classes in Japanese calligraphy and Japanese cooking for travelers to Japan.
I asked her about reasons why she started Wakalture Experience and what she considered important to teach Japanese culture to the travelers.
1. Could you introduce Wakalture Experience to readers?
I would like to spread what Japan is among the travelers through experiences of Japanese culture (Japanese calligraphy, origami, Japanese cooking, tea ceremony etc), so I started Wakalture Experience. Now, I offer classes in Japanese calligraphy, Japanese cooking (Udon・Tamagoyaki), Tsumami-zaiku, a guided tour of shrines and tea ceremony.
Wakalture is a coined word that combines my name Wakana with Culture. In addition, Wakalture’s “wa” means 和(wa) which represents a characteristic of Japan. Wakalture Experience means these Japanese cultural experiences are guided by Wakana.
▼You can get more information from Wakalture’s site.
It is important to introduce real Japanese culture when I offer Japanese culture (not touristic) to my guests. For example, in my Japanese calligraphy class, I teach them from using inks and brushes in the same way as Japanese do. Then, they draw a Japanese word that represented they want to draw (representing themselves, favorite word etc).
—–What words did they draw?—–
「家族(Family)」 is drawn most often, as well as 「愛(Love)」!
Someone drew 「ゴジラ(Godzilla)」for his son who loved Godzilla. Someone drew「寿(celebration)」for her friend’s wedding celebration.
Someone who started their new life drew 「望(hope)」. 「酒(alcohol drink)」,「鮫(shark)」and「鮪(tuna)」
Through asking them why they chose that word, I can have a deeper conversation with them. Always, we have a good time during choosing words♪
▼This is a photograph of the Calligraphy class. They seem enjoying a lot!
I have been learning calligraphy more than 20 years since I was a child, and I have a license of teaching Japanese calligraphy. However, I didn’t have a plan to make calligraphy my business at first.
When I was studying English at a language school in Toronto, my teacher saw my calligraphy works and he kept telling me “Wakana’s calligraphy works are amazing, so you should make it your business!”. At that time, I first started to be conscious of it.
Then, my language study ended, and I returned to Japan. I was surprised that travelers to Japan increased much more than before.
I decided to open a Japanese calligraphy school for travelers to Japan, exploiting my calligraphy skills and experience of living abroad. Then, I started Wakalture Experience in 2016.
At first, Wakalture Experience offered only Japanese calligraphy classes. Now, I exploit my license of dietitian, and Wakalture Experience offers Japanese cooking classes as well.
▼This is a photograph of a Japanese cooking class.
I also lived in Australia. My host family communicated with me as a real member of their family. Because of them, also kind and friendly locals, I like Australia more and more.
So I would like to offer the same feeling of warmth and kindness I experienced in Australia to travelers in my classes.
It is important for me that my guests feel they want to come back to Japan and maybe see me again through my classes. So I offer not only classes but also a wonderful time communicating with them.
▼This is a photograph of Wakana and her repeat customer. Some of guests took again her class the next day!
Through my Japanese calligraphy experience, I consider that a virtue of Japan is the culture to take care of things, and to keep plugging away with endurance.
My guests often said that Japanese cities are clean, quiet and Japanese people are polite.
It is my impression of Japan which I felt after my living abroad that Japanese people are very kind to people who they know but they are too busy to do other people.
I also have an impression of Japan that Japanese people are very conscientious but businesslike.
I like talking to people from all over the world and I keep in mind to enjoy treating everyone.
Please send me a message, if you are unable to make a decision on Japanese trip（笑haha)!
A lot of the travelers planned schedules more cost and labor…..
I think it is a waste of money and time. If you asked me, I would offer a more reasonable and smooth plan.
If you have any problems on your trip to Japan, feel free to ask me!
▼This is Wakalture Experience’s Facebook page.
Thank you Ms. Wakana!
The photographs of Wakalture Experience on Instagram tells me Ms. Wakana’s nice personality.
When I met her in person, she had a bright and kind character more than I expected. She was a very nice woman!
I think that one of the most attractive points of Wakalture Experience is feeling like guests were at a friend’s (Ms. Wakana) house enjoying a fun afternoon while learning the real Japanese culture.
She said: “I would like to return the favor to my guests that I received from locals when I lived abroad”. Her words sound very powerful and kind. I will continue to support her in the future!
I would like to see her again. Next time, I will participate in Ms Wakana’s class with all members of Omotenashi team!
〜2018.09.17 Interview・illustration・photograph by Tanaka〜