What Cultural Activities Can You Try at Hiroshima’s Fukuju Kaikan?

ByJustin Hanus
Feb 22, 2023

What Cultural Activities Can You Try at Hiroshima’s Fukuju Kaikan?

One of the main tourist sites of Hiroshima prefecture is Fukuyama Castle. Construction of the original building began in 1619, but the castle suffered extensive damage during World War II and was rebuilt in 1966. Near the castle is Fukuju Kaikan — a hall added as a cultural center during the early Showa period. The hall has two teahouses, a garden, and Japanese and Western-style buildings for meetings. It’s here that visitors can participate in a range of cultural activities throughout the year.

Tea Ceremonies

The most common events at Fukuju Kaikan are the citizen tea ceremonies. Although these are aimed at people who live in town, anyone is welcome to attend. Some on-site staff speak English and can guide visitors through proper etiquette at the tea ceremony. Participants also have the chance to prepare matcha themselves and try several sweets, including tea cakes and candies.

Koto Performances

The koto is an ancient harp-like musical instrument. Since around three-quarters of all the instruments are made in Fukuyama city, it makes sense that Fukuju Kaikan would hold performances. Even better, participants can learn how to play one themselves — something you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. Over the course of an hour, an instructor will teach you the basics of the instrument, including the sound of each string and how to play a simple piece of music. At the end of the lesson, your teacher will play along with you on a second koto to create harmony.

Kimono Dress-up

Unless you purchase a kimono, you may never have the opportunity to wear one. If you attend the kimono dress-up experience at Fukuju Kaikan, however, you can wear the kimono of your choice — the instructor will help you pick one that suits you. As well as teaching you how to put a kimono on (including how to make sure it’s the right length and how to tie the obi), the instructor will explain the different techniques to wear kimonos in both basic and complicated styles, how to choose the proper kimono for the occasion, and the history and culture of the garment. Once you’re dressed up, you can stroll around the traditional garden on the grounds, which offers Fukuyama Castle— the perfect place for a photo.

Kodo Ceremonies

Kodo means “way of fragrance” and is about appreciating the scent of incense. Although it was once as important as the tea ceremony and ikebana (flower arranging), it is less well known today. At Fukuju Kaikan, you can attend a kodo lecture to learn the etiquette for ceremonies and understand how to enjoy the scent of fragrant wood. The lecturer will also walk you through the cultural importance of the practice of kodo.

As the activities at Fukuju Kaikan are scheduled sporadically, you’ll need to check the calendar in advance to see what’s coming up — you can find out by checking the website. Some events require booking in advance, but often, you can turn up on the day.

Ermell, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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