- Experience the world of Zen Buddhism in a Japanese temple
- Dine on a very healthy lunch based on Buddhist philosophy
- Visit the National Noh Theater and appreciate the art of Noh, a traditional form of Japanese theatre
- Cruise through Tokyo Bay and see the sights of the waterfront district, Odaiba, and the tallest tower in Japan, Tokyo Sky Tree, illuminated at night
The “Zen Experience, Noh and Tokyo Bay Boat Cruise” is an opportunity to learn about Zen Buddhism, eat a healthy minimalist lunch that adheres to Buddhist philosophy and experience how the power of meditation can help in our busy modern lives. This experience will be followed by the opportunity to enjoy the traditional Japanese performing arts called Noh at the National Noh Theater of Japan. The highlight of this tour is the night cruise through Tokyo Bay on a yakatabune, a traditional wooden boat for entertainment and dining.
The tour starts from Hiroo – a convenient location lined with many shops and restaurants. At first, it may appear to be a very international city; however, it retains an old school feel. It is frequently ranked among the top places to live in Tokyo, and is often recommended in magazines marketed at women. After learning about Buddhism and trying zazen meditation in Kourin-in temple, the tour continues to Roppongi for lunch.
Shojin Ryori (Shojin Cuisine) was introduced together with Buddhism from China in the 6th century, and was originally a minimalist, vegetarian cooking style for Buddhist priests. It relies on seasonal ingredients and contains no fish or meat. Recently, shojin cuisine attracts attention from around the globe, increasing international interest in traditional Japanese culture and cuisine.
The next destination is National Noh Theater in Yoyogi. Designated as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity ” by UNESCO, Noh is a unique Japanese stage art that is said to be the oldest in the world. It was originally called sarugaku until the Meiji reformations of the late 19th century. Noh is historically a theatrical feature based on dance and music. The actors tell a story using a unique vocal style called seigaku and musical accompaniment performed by hayashi, all while in a dance-like motion. Masks are a trademark of Noh theatre, and like kabuki, is an art form recognised globally.
From Yoyogi we head to Shinagawa, where we hop onto yakatabune. A yakatabune is a unique Japanese boat that commonly features indoor seating areas for dining and drinking. Originally the boat was available only to the privileged and royalty of the 8th century. It was around the 17th century when the yakatabune has become widespread and available to the public as it is today. Now, one can enjoy a relaxing cruise and dinner on a yakatabune during any season. This dinner includes also drinks.
The “Zen Experience, Noh, Tokyo Bay Boat Cruise” tour begins at Kourin-in, a Buddhist temple in Hiroo. Participants will try zazen meditation and learn about Buddhism and how it differs from Japan’s native religion, Shinto. From Hiroo, the tour will continue onto Roppongi for a lunch of shojin cuisine. Lunch will be followed by a visit to the National Noh Theater in Yoyogi, The tour ends with a relaxing yakatabune night dinner cruise through Tokyo Bay to take in a different side Tokyo’s hustle and bustle.
Total duration of the tour: around 11 hours
A convenient location lined with many shops and restaurants. At first it may appear to be a very international city; however, it retains an old-school feel. It is frequently ranked among the top places to live in Tokyo and is often recommended in magazines marketed at women.
With its image of glamour containing a large business district and luxury apartments, Roppongi Hills is currently the place to go for international visitors and expats. In the 17th to 19th century, samurai resided in Roppongi and the area was home to many shrines and temples, and aquaculture trended at one point as it had an abundance of spring and groundwater. In the post-war period, the United States Army erected several military facilities in the area. One theory regarding the origin of the name “Roppongi” stems from six trees that marked the area. Another refers to the area’s six influential families, all of whom have the Chinese character for “tree” (ki) or a type of tree in their names.
Yoyogi is famous for its huge park. It is a popular place for jogging, picnics and other outdoor activities. Many hobby groups regularly gather here, and various meetings and happenings take place in the park area.
Shinagawa is a big, busy transportation hub with a myriad of hotels, restaurants and office buildings. However, it is also possible to find a pieces of history among them: former Tokaido road with its small temples, shrines and shops has been retained.