Expose yourself to Japan’s traditional entertainment and culture
When talking about Japanese traditional arts, you might first come up with "kabuki" or "sumo". Both have been loved by ordinary people from the Edo period (1603 - 1868), and are characterized by watching the performance casually while drinking or eating at the seats. Kabuki consists of three letters of Kanji, each meaning "singing", "dancing", and "talent." The names of major actors are inherited by the boys of the same family for generations. Therefore, just like royalties, the news of dating, marriage, birth of a boy related to the men of "Nakamura family" and "Ichikawa family", allegedly the prestigious two kabuki houses, are topics that the Japanese are interested and covered on TV.
The real thrill of watching "sumo" live is in various rituals formed in Edo Era that are still being succeeded. Not only the bouts but also "gyoji", sumo referees as well as "ochaya-san", staffs in hakama (Japanese pantaloons) who serve drinks and food to the spectators observe the unchanged style from olden times. Therefore, don’t forget to check out the costumes of people working here, too. For many elder Japanese, the afternoons during tournament period are “for watching sumo on TV”, so sumo is a part of Japanese culture, even for those not watching it live. Tickets for both "kabuki" and "sumo" are sold to the public, and anyone can watch them while they’re being held.
We would say the next well-known Japanese culture is tea ceremony. "Matcha (powdered tea)", which has become globally popular as "Maccha" comes from the strong tea used in the tea ceremony. Tea ceremony is a series of acts to serve a cup of tea to customers in line with traditional rules, but now can be enjoyed more casually at sightseeing spots and the like. What is important in tea ceremony is said to be hospitality, rather than the shackling rules. Kimono, tea cups, as well as tools of tea ceremony and series of gestures are packed with element of wa--the Japanese spirit. Not only by tasting but by experiencing the formal way of making a cup of tea, you might be able to feel a part of wa--the Japanese spirit.
Lastly, about Japanese paintings. It is said that Japan's unique paintings have evolved in an distinct way during the Edo period, also called "the period of isolation", when closed-door policy was established. The isolation was an extreme foreign policy which the government of the time executed to exclude Christianity, and this lasted for more than 200 years. In the Meiji era (1868 -) when this isolated state was over, these Japanese paintings suddenly flowed out to the West; it is said that Impressionist painters, who were in search of new concepts, had welcomed these paintings. In particular, Edgar Degas is famous for adopting many Japanese-style motifs in his works, and it is said that Picasso and others were later inspired by his pieces. Some of the museums with Japanese paintings include Adachi Museum of Art in Shimane (also famous for zen garden) and the Sumida Hokusai Museum in Tokyo.