tatami mat


One of the travel arrangements HANDS ON JAPAN is good at is to show you behind-the-scenes where skilled artisans work and offer first-hand cultural activities there. Naturally, a general sightseeing include visits to must-see spots, but we believe those real interactions with locals will definitely give you more satisfying experience. Take a look at our recommendations below and include what strikes your curiosity when you order a quote. These tours are HANDS ON JAPAN’s original experiences: our guide will be the conductor with no third-party travel agency involved.

Cultural Experiences


Meeting a Zen Monk

Private Zen temple experience including raking white gravel
Zen Buddhism teaches us to live “now”, this very moment, while emptying our mind, but how are we supposed to focus on “now” with other people around us? Don’t you worry because the venue is exclusively open to our tour, which means you get to have the whole temple only for you. Embrace the moment in this private temple where no sound distracts you.

green tea

Tea Ceremony

See the epitome of Japanese culture in a cup of tea
Attending a tea ceremony and drinking a cup of matcha green tea on a tatami floor are two very different things. Tea ceremony infused with the Zen spirit of simplicity and grace and is so closely connected to other Japanese arts that it can be seen as a gateway to Japanese culture as a whole. Join one privately held for you. It will be a quick yet thorough guide to what Japanese culture is all about.



Discover the beauty of Japanese letters with an ink brush
Because of its seemingly complicated appearance and writing system, Japanese letters evoke so much of curiosity of travelers and not many calligraphy classes offer thorough and enjoyable experience as this. The experience puts an emphasis on understanding what the Japanese calligraphy is all about by going through the evolution of writing systems and establishing a proper mental status led by an enthusiastic teacher.


Kimono Rental

Wear a class kimono and walk the town in style
If you want to rent a kimono for a day and wear it right, an ordinary rental shop won’t do. Our associated kimono store rents a formal sophisticated kimono. They can cater for both authentic silk material and light polyester. Designs are of understated, mature one. It is a perfect outfit for a special occasion such as tea ceremony, luxurious dinner, or even a stroll down the street. You can pick up to 2 kimono designs online beforehand and have a staff to get yourself dressed at your hotel on the day of wearing to save so much of your time.

Eating and Drinking Experiences


Confectionery Making

Learn exquisite sweets making from an artisan with supreme deft touch
Kyoto has been an important place to the world of confectionery as the refined practice of tea ceremony demands first-class sweets to accompany green tea. Meet an artisan who has been up to that task for over decades creating top notch Japanese sweets and give yourself a try to make those edible arts.

japanese meal

Japanese Cooking Class

Come enjoy Japanese home cooking in a private class
If you are looking to get a deeper insight into Japanese food (washoku), there is no better way to do it than cooking it. So here we are at a small cooking studio in which you can experience a Japanese home style cooking. This is a great chance for you and your travel mate to escape from the travelling crowd and make a delicious meal together.


Tofu Making

Tour of the tofu lovers, by the tofu lovers, for the tofu lovers
Tofu appears to have gained a citizenship world wide as a healthy food but it’s true potential will still not be known until you take part in this tour. Be amazed to discover how good tofu can actually be when it is made at the hands of an artisan. Mouthwatering experience and an enthusiastic tofu professional await you. An empty stomach is all you need.


Sake Brewery Visit

Discover how sake is made through a 123 years old brewery tour
Sake has been playing such an important role for the folk’s life in Japan since as far as a history book can go back not just as an alcoholic beverage but also as a sacred drink considered to be gifted by the nature gods. It tastes wonderful when you know nothing about it, but it tastes even better when you have the knowledge of it. And that’s what you’ll gain from this firsthand sake experience.


Craft Beer Brewery Visit

Discover the top-notch craft beers in town!
Kyoto is no exception to the growing popularity of craft beer in Japan, and in a quiet neighborhood in the city is a young small brewery, which have produced many varieties of high quality craft beers while winning many medals in an international stage in an astonishing short period of time. The tour visits this brewery to see their work on site before going to their retail store to drink their beer.


Bar Hopping

Dive deep into the monolingual night life of Kyoto to try tasty local drinks and foods
Hit 3 local izakaya (Japanese tavern) where you wouldn’t go alone with a local guide as we explore different areas including Gion. Feel a lively atmosphere as the night unfolds at the ancient capital. Make friends with the locals and perhaps cuisine you have never tried before.

Crafting Experiences


Meeting a Tatami Artisan

Immerse yourself into the world of tatami and make your own!
Everyone knows what tatami mats look like, but how many of you know what they are made of, how they are made, and why they are important to Japanese housing? All these questions will be answered when you meet a tatami artisan, who has spent half a century years measuring, repairing, replacing, sawing tatami for Kyotoites.


Kimono Accessory Crafting

Make an accessory out of Nishijin textile, Japan’s finest woven fabric
Despite its huge popularity among tourists, the material side of kimono is not so well known as well as the fact that a district where produces finest kimono’s obi sash is situated in the north west part of Kyoto city. The tour visits an obi sash’s designer in the district to learn its laborious production process and craft an accessory out of the woven fabric.


Aromatic Bag Crafting

Craft a Japanese sachet, a Geisha’s essential item
Fact: maiko get to wash their hair once in two weeks, or three weeks at longest in order to keep their laborious hair style. Instead they carry a sachet packed with aromatic wooden powders to cancel out hair odor. In this tour you get to craft the maiko’s essential item blending 10 different varieties of wooden powders.