Okura Hotels offers immersive Japanese food, culture experiences

(Hotel Okura culture program)

Okura Hotels & Resorts, a part of Okura Nikko Hotel Management Co., Ltd., continues to add to its menu of activities for guests looking to immerse themselves in authentic Japanese culture. The two latest additions—experiential workshops on Japanese culture—have been offered on an informal basis at its flagship Hotel Okura Tokyo since earlier this year, as there are an increasing number of culture lovers who are no longer satisfied with simple sightseeing and instead want to experience true Japanese culture.

The first offering is a Japanese table manner workshop offered by Yamazato, the highly regarded Japanese restaurant that has been open at Hotel Okura Tokyo since 1962. Bilingual instructors accredited by the Japan Hotel and Restaurant Service Development Association give participants a hands-on lesson in Japanese table manners while they enjoy a kaiseki lunch of seasonal foods. Participants learn about holding, raising and placing utensils, the proper order to enjoy dishes and avoiding various faux pas.

The second offering is a tasting of Yamazato’s seasonal and premium saké, a fixture of traditional washoku Japanese cuisine. Participants can taste the respective characteristics of five complex yet delicate rice wine liquors of their choice or selected by Yamazato’s sommeliers from a vast collection of limited premium saké. Through the tasting of each saké from shot glasses, participants can learn the rich history of the brewing process.

These two latest experiential activities join a list of similar offerings available at other Hotel Okura venues in Japan and around the world. Examples include the following:

1. Tea culture: Kyoto Hotel Okura

Guests at Kyoto Hotel Okura select a favorite tea from among oriental varieties and then learn the special techniques of brewing their particular favorite tea in the Kaboku tearoom of Ippodo Tea Co., a trading house for nearly three centuries. The course can include breakfast—Western buffet or Japanese—at Irifune, a highly regarded restaurant overlooking a Japanese garden. 

2. Local traditions: Hotel Okura Fukuoka

Kenji Takayanagi, General Manager of Hotel Okura Fukuoka and a Fukuoka native, personally escorts guests to his city’s historic Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, plus a selection of favorite must-see attractions including a local shopping street and folk museum in Hakata. The tour, offered exclusively to guests on a non-regular basis, is free of charge and starts at 10am. 

3. Japanese cuisine: Hotel Okura Amsterdam

Hotel Okura Amsterdam’s Sazanka restaurant, Europe’s first Japanese teppanyaki restaurant that earned a Michelin star in 2014, offers private groups a full four-hour course in cooking washoku. Participants learn how to enrich their daily lives with the traditions of Japanese dietary culture in the hotel’s cookery studio.