4.5 star rating: Recommended 9 Reviews

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  • Location:Kyoto, Japan
  • Duration:90 minutes (approx.)

Kyoto Small-Group Tour: Introduction to Japanese Culture

Learn about the art of the tea ceremony, the correct way to wear a kimono, and the architecture of old Kyoto during this introduction to Japanese culture. You'll enjoy the atmosphere of an old-style Kyoto shophouse for your tea ceremony, then take a short walk through a traditional Kyoto neighborhood. Winding up with a stop at a sake brewery to sample the local brew, this tour gives you the perfect introduction to Japanese culture with a small-group of curious travelers and friendly local guide!


  • 90-minute introduction to Japanese culture in Kyoto
  • Take in the beauty of the classic wooden shophouse called the machiya where your tour begins
  • Learn how to wear a kimono and the history of this quintessential Japanese garment
  • Participate in a tea ceremony and understand the meaning behind the ritualized art of preparing and serving tea
  • Follow your guide through a neighborhood lined with traditional buildings and hear about Kyoto’s architecture
  • Toast your new friends with a glass of sake on your final stop at a sake brewery
  • Small-group tour ensures personalized attention from your guide

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

Kyoto Small-Group Tour: Introduction to Japanese Culture

Kyoto Small-Group Tour: Introduction to Japanese Culture

You’ll meet your guide and group at a machiya – a traditional wooden townhouse – where the first part of your 90-minute tour will take place.

Your guide will first take you through the machiya and point out the architectural features of these classic shophouses, in use for centuries by Kyoto merchants as home and workspace. With a shop in the front and living space in the rear, the long and narrow buildings once lined Kyoto’s streets. However, many machiya have disappeared due to modern development.

After settling into a tranquil room in the machiya, you’ll have the option to try on a kimono. Get great photos of yourself in these beautiful robes, now mostly worn only by women for festive occasions, although men may wear one for tea ceremonies and weddings.

Next, you’ll have an introduction to the tea ceremony, a quintessential part of Japanese culture that has been described as a meditative practice and a performance art. The tea master will explain the act of preparing and drinking matcha, the powdered green tea used in the ceremony, a choreographed art that requires years of study to master.

Your tour finishes with a walk through a picturesque old Kyoto neighborhood and a stop into a sake brewery. You’ll sample the sake – an alcohol beverage made from fermented rice – and learn about the brewing process. Toast your small-group and guide with a glass of sake to wrap up your taste of Japanese culture!

Click on "View Additional Info" for Machiya house location.

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Customer Reviews

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2015

So much fun! The ladies were absolutely delightful and made sure that our traditional tea ceremony in our beautiful kimonos was something my daughters and I will remember for the rest of our lives.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended May 2015

This was a great experience. It was small group with only 5 tourists. We had a lot of interaction with the three local women conducting the tea ceremony. We were dressed in kimonos for the occasion. After the tea ceremony we had the choice of origami or sake tasting. The only difficulty was finding the actual building for the tea ceremony. I included a photo of the front of the shop Wak Japan.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended December 2014

Great experience that everyone should try! Was given a crash course in Japanese culture - absolutely fascinating and totally worth it.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2014

Best tour of the three I took. The ladies were lovely and dressed the three of us with care and patience. We enjoyed the tea ceremony and the sake factory tour as well. Only problem was finding the initial house to start the tour. We went around in circles looking for it.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2014

This tour was amazing!

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2014

Tourist friendly introduction into wearing the Kimono, Tea ceremony, and Sake. We were interviewed at the tour by Japanese TV! The house was authentic old Japanese style and the guides were knowledgeable and very friendly. Good for adults and kids alike.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2014

This was a delightful experience. Many thanks! It was just the two of us and a most helpful and kind guide who expertly dressed us in kimonos, took us through a tea ceremony, and then after we returned to our regular clothes visited the sake brewery around the corner. Our guide answered all of our questions about the tour itself and also more general questions about Kyoto/Japan. Each aspect was fascinating and it was just the right amount of time spent, so we were able to participate in this tour in the morning on our first day in Kyoto and then had the rest of the day to explore/do whatever we desired. Great introduction and we highly recommend to all!

4 star rating: Recommended October 2014

Being dressed in a kimono for the tea ceremony by the leaders was an interesting and involving experience. There was one other couple participating with us in the ceremony and in the house tour which added to the experience. This was our first time in Kyoto and we were a bit apprehensive about finding the location of the event. However, the directions were good even though we could not read street names which were in Japanese..

1 star rating: I do not recommend this October 2014

I did not make it because even though I got an email saying confirmed, when I check the email for the details the night before, I discovered that I needed to confirm separately with the local tour operator 24 hours in advance! I would suggest you change your procedure and do not send an email saying confirmed when it is clearly not! Money wasted!

From USD $ 87.25

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Tour code: 6117KYOJHKYJC


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