Aman has introduced an exclusive series of immersive local experiences at its two resorts in Japan; Aman Tokyo and Amanemu in Ago Bay on the island’s east coast.
Marking the collection’s 30th anniversary, the 12 cultural adventures are designed to help guests connect with the local community in each destination – a cornerstone of Aman’s philosophy since its first retreat, Amanpuri, opened on the Thai island of Phuket in 1988. From spending an evening with a geisha to a culinary tour of Ise Shima, these enriching experiences offer an authentic taste of the country’s diverse cultural identity.
Aman Tokyo is an urban oasis set high above the modern-day capital’s thriving Otemachi district, while secluded Amanemu overlooks the dramatic shores of Ago Bay in Ise Shima National Park.
Aman Tokyo’s flagship immersive experience offers guests the chance to dine with a geisha at one of the city’s most exclusive ryotei restaurants, Tsurunaka, tucked away in one of the few surviving hanamichi (flower towns). Instrumental in facilitating this exclusive experience is Ikuko, one of Japan’s most esteemed living geisha who says it is their “upmost pleasure to show guests of Aman Tokyo the real meaning of Japanese hospitality”. An enduring Japanese icon, geisha epitomise omotenashi – the country’s unique take on hospitality which prioritises guests above all else – with their myriad of arts. During a captivating evening, guests will experience traditional singing, dancing and games while savouring a kaiseki dinner of seasonal cuisine with a selection of sake.
Budding chefs are also catered for with a sushi-making masterclass. During this culinary journey, guests discover a true hidden gem – a tiny seven-seat backstreet sushi restaurant in the upscale Ginza district – and have the rare opportunity to get behind the counter and make their own nigiri under the watchful eye of sushi master, Katsuaki Suzuki, who has risen to the top of the sushi world at the age of just 31. Guests will prepare shiromi white fish, akami tuna, ikura salmon egg and uni sea urchin, using the freshest seafood sourced from the world-famous Tsukiji fish market.
Those seeking mindfulness can take up a katana sword to learn the Japanese martial art of iaido, a graceful and spiritual practice that is said to improve posture, control, concentration and manners. During an exclusive private lesson with iaido master, Shoun Uetsubara, students learn the basics of samurai etiquette and practice six sword movements before using a real katana to cut through a straw target.
Guests at Amanemu, meanwhile, can embark on an underwater adventure with one of the few remaining female ama divers. Another enduring icon of Japanese femininity, these remarkable women famously free-dive to the ocean floor to gather pearls and seafood. Following a dive in the waters of Ise Shima with free-spirited veteran ama, Mayumi Mitsuhashi, guests are served a seafood barbecue prepared by Mitsuhashi in a traditional amagoya hut.
Amanemu also offers a bespoke culinary journey to learn about the food of the gods; sampling ingredients offered daily at the Ise Jingu Shrine. This 2,000 year old Shinto shrine is home to the sun goddess Amaterasu-omikami – Japan’s most revered deity. The journey begins at the Ise Jingu Grand Shrine, after which a rice porridge made with fresh abalone is served for breakfast. Then guests move on to Sakatoku Konbu, a seaweed producer for over 100 years, where they can sample traditional oboro kelp before visiting Futami, home to Iwatokan, a sea salt maker still using ancient production methods. Finally the day culminates with a visit to a cliff-side katsuobushi (smoked and dried bonito) producer, Tenpaku.
The 12 new experiences also include cycling the peaks and shores of Ise Shima, cultivating an akoya pearl, hiking through Japan’s holiest region, a bespoke tour of Nikenchaya and Kawasaki and an insight into the world of sumo.
23 April 2018
Aman was founded in 1988 with the vision of building a collection of intimate retreats with the unassuming, warm hospitality of a gracious private home. The first, Amanpuri (place of peace) in Phuket, Thailand, introduced the concept, and since then, Aman has grown to encompass 33 hotels and resorts located in Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Dominican Republic, France, Greece, Indonesia, India, Italy, Japan, Laos, (Mexico 2020) Montenegro, Morocco, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, the Turks & Caicos Islands, the USA (New York 2020), and Vietnam.
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