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Traditional Japanese Cultures – Tea Ceremony, Flower Arrangement, Calligraphy, Kendo, and Archery: Video Introduction

This video, titled "IS JAPAN COOL? DOU - 道 (THE TANGIBLE MANNER)," was uploaded by "ANA Global Channel."

The video begins with an atmospheric Japanese bamboo grove, followed by scenes of martial arts such as iaido and kendo using Japanese swords, as well as calligraphy and archery. The beautiful images and the sound of taiko drums provide a glimpse into the various "Ways" of Japanese culture, including the classical Japanese performing arts of Noh theatre and Nihon buyo (classical Japanese dance).

In Japanese "Dou" (道, Road/Path), in the context of traditional Japanese cultures, means "The Way." Some of the most common of these traditional cultures are as follows:

Kendo (剣道)
Kendo (剣, Sword) (道, Path) or "The Way of the Sword"

Sado (茶道)
Sado (茶, Tea) (道, Path) or "The Way of Tea"

Kado (華道)
Kado (華, Flower) (道, Path) or "The Way of Flowers," a type of flower arrangement

Shodo (書道)
Shodo (書, Writing) (道, Path) or "The Way of Writing," more commonly known as calligraphy

Kyudo (弓道)
Kyudo (弓, Bow) (道, Path) or "The Way of the Bow," more commonly known as archery

Traditional Japanese Cultures and 'The Way'

Image of the kanji for 'Way'
Photo:The kanji for 'Way'

When it comes to Japanese culture, many people probably think of things like kendo and tea ceremony. "Dou," or "The Way" helps convey the history and wisdom contained within these traditional Japanese cultures. In fact, it's still not widely known that there are numerous "ways" in Japan.

For starters, calligraphy (書道, Shodo), tea ceremony (茶道, Sado), and flower arrangement (華道, Kado), widely known as traditional Japanese culture, are collectively referred to as Sando (三道) or "The Three Ways." Even today, they are popular as training activities.

There are also nine types of budo (武, War) (道, Path) or "The Way of War," including judo, which is popular around the world as an Olympic sport, kendo, kyudo (traditional Japanese archery), sumo, karate, naginata, aikido, jukendo, and shorinji kenpo.

In addition, there are iaido, jodo, tatedo, and kobudo. There is also kodo, (香, Aroma) (道, Path) or "The Way of Aromas," which involves burning incense to enjoy their fragrance. There are many lesser-known forms of martial arts in Japan as well.

Did you know that there are more Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan than there are convenience stores in the entire country? Even Japan's native religions, Shinto (神, Gods) (道, Path) or "The Way of the Gods," Butsudo (仏, Buddha) (道, Path) or "The Way of Buddha," and Shugendo (修, Discipline) (験, Test) (道, Path), or literally "The Way of Discipline and Testing."

Learning More than Simply the 'Way'

Image of a judo gi
Photo:A judo gi

So what is learned from these traditional Japanese cultures? Let's take the aforementioned "Budo" (martial arts) as an example.

Japanese martial arts are similar to sports, as they are competitive and use a set of established rules. However, budo emphasizes spirituality. It's said that Budo is a form of "Bushido" (武士道), the "Way of the Warrior," a way to improve one's spirituality and character, particularly civility and morality.

Budo is not only about winning matches, but also about becoming a better person by training one's mind, techniques, and physique through daily practice and discipline. Let's take a look at what you can actually learn by studying martial arts.

●Etiquette and Perseverance
Martial arts are said to begin and end with a bow. Through martial arts, students learn to be considerate of others while keeping their emotions in check, and through repeated training, they also acquire patience and perseverance.

●Increased Concentration
When competing against an opponent, one must pay attention to the opponent's movements and be ready to respond to the opponent's attack. This requires a high level of concentration. By continuing to practice, you will strengthen your ability to concentrate. Other benefits include increased flexibility of the shoulder blades and hip joints and increased metabolism, and it can also be practiced by men and women of all ages.

If one's spirituality is enhanced through "budo," one may be able to calmly deal with unpleasant situations in real-life relationships or at work.

Not limited to martial arts, in Japan, there are countless classes and dojos related to "ways," such as kado (華道, flower arrangement), sado (茶道, tea ceremony), and kyudo (弓道, archery), and many people practice them because they enable them to learn the Japanese spirit of harmony and etiquette.

Popular Japanese Cultural Experiences Among International Tourists

Image of kado

Here are some Japanese cultural experiences that are popular among tourists visiting Japan.

First, there's tea ceremony. Tea ceremony is a uniquely Japanese cultural experience that is popular among foreign tourists because of its refined etiquette and the Japanese spirit of wabi-sabi.

Flowers are universally loved. In kado, a type of flower arrangement and purely Japanese culture, one learns not only how to arrange flowers, but also how to entertain guests and how to appreciate life by decorating flowers and plants. Unlike standard flower arrangement, the artistic ikebana experience, which also teaches the beauty of the space between the flowers, is becoming more and more popular every year.

Another popular Japanese cultural experience among foreign visitors to Japan is kimono. As you can see in the video showing traditional Japanese dance and Noh theatre, many people associate Japan with kimono. In Kyoto and other sightseeing spots, people are often seen wearing kimono as well.

Summary of Traditional Japanese Cultures and 'The Way'

Have you checked out the video to learn about the different "ways" of Japan? It's a beautiful video filled with the charms of traditional Japanese cultures, dignified movements, and wabi-sabi.

Like we mentioned, there are many "ways" that even Japanese people are not familiar with. The traditional Japanese cultures or "ways" aren't just about techniques, but also growing as a person and honing one's character.

Perhaps you can use the inspiration you've found from this article to find your own path?

Written By
Last Updated : Jan. 8, 2023
鈴木 正孝(Masataka Suzuki)
A writer born and raised in Asakusa, Tokyo who loves traveling and novels
'Dou' or 'The Way' – Learn About Traditional Japanese Cultures and Understand the Spirit of Harmony in Japan Through Ancient Japanese Cultures Like Kendo and Archery!
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