On my recent trip to Japan I spent a lot of time researching and planning activities (mostly meals, interspersed with sightseeing) in the south of the country. So by the time we got to Osaka I was ready to let someone else take over. I started looking online for tours. There aren’t many peer to peer tours in Japan. The Tabica website is just getting started for foreigners, and they didn’t have any listings in Osaka. Other peer to peer tours and experiences sites also produced little for Osaka.
A few activities kept coming up in my google searches. One in particular caught my eye: the kimono teahouse experience. It has excellent trip advisor reviews and the description sounded fun so I decided to book it. I figured, based on the professional looking website, that I was booking something from a tour company, or perhaps a temple that was making some money on the side by educating tourists. It turns out this is an experience run by one woman out of her apartment in Osaka. Tomomi has put together a very nice offering, complete with a lesson on how to put on a kimono, how to prepare matcha for a tea ceremony, and how to drink the tea properly.
Tomomi is doing all her own advertising, and relies on referrals from Trip Advisor. But she has managed to build a business that mostly supports herself. She came up with the idea because friends visiting Japan always asked her where they could experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. There aren’t many options and none of them included kimonos. Since she had the training and experience in tea ceremonies herself, and speaks a few languages, it wasn’t a stretch for Tomomi to set up a special room in her home and start hosting people interested in this activity.
We really enjoyed the private lesson and tea ceremony. This is a great example of people offering tours and activities in their areas of expertise, showing travelers some things they’d never be able to find on their own. I connected Tomoni with the peer to peer activities websites I know about in Japan, as that might expand her advertising reach and also help her collect payments by credit card. Whether or not she chooses to advertise on those peer to peer websites, I can enthusiastically recommend this tea ceremony experience for anyone visiting Osaka.