Take a Sugary Dive into Buddhist Art and Culture: Visit a Local Temple and Make Rakugan Candied Sculptures (3.5hrs)
Since ancient times, the Japanese people have paid respects to their ancestors and Buddha by offering rakugan, a hard candy made of two highly-valued ingredients throughout Japanese history: rice and sugar. Rakushindo Hompo is a confectionary shop that specializes in making rakugan used for religious offerings. The workshop is located in the Chikugo region of Fukuoka Prefecture, along a historical sugar trade route that stretched from Nagasaki to Tokyo during the Edo Period (1603-1868). Confectionery culture also flourished in Chikugo during the Meiji period (1868-1912), when confectioners provided sweets to coal miners in the industrializing region. Rakushindo gives an artistic update to tradition, making rakugan sculptures in over 100 different types of designs. In the Japanese countryside rich with natural beauty, learn about local Buddhist culture and enjoy a relaxing rakugan-making experience with an expert craftsperson.
- ● Visit a unique workshop that creates a dazzling variety of designs and colorful gradations of rakugan sculptures
- ● Learn rakugan-making techniques directly from an expert craftsperson, in the same studio where they work each day
- ● Take an inside look into the main hall of a non-touristy Buddhist temple in the countryside
- ● Learn about Buddhist culture directly from a temple's head monk and participate in a short sermon
- ● Enjoy an exquisite pairing of matcha and rakugan
- ● Take home the rakugan sculpture you make during the experience as a souvenir
Unlike most confectioneries across Japan that make rakugan sweets for human consumption, Rakushindo is unique in that it specializes in making rakugan sculptures used for religious offerings, a craft that requires a particularly high level of skill and artistic sense. To make these elaborate creations, Rakushindo Hompo has developed over 200 different colors of rakugan through a process of trial and error, in contrast to a more standard set of 10 colors used by the majority of sweet makers. This variation in color allows Rakushindo to create its signature gradient designs. Rakushindo Hompo creates work in shapes and colors that reflect our modern moment, in order to pass on the beauty and spirit of this Japanese craft on to future generations.
Seikouji is a local temple built over 100 years ago, belonging to the Hongwanji branch of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism. At the time, Kiyonaga Kyubei, who made a fortune off of coal mining, hired a temple and shrine carpenter from Kyoto to model the main hall of Seikouji after the head temple’s Amitabha Hall, harkening back to the Chikuho region’s former prosperity. One can hear the sounds of the temple’s head monk Tomonori Kiyonaga’s favorite jazz music fill this grandiose space, adding a calm and refined air. There is also a kindergarten on the temple grounds, and many events are held with local residents throughout the year. This is a temple deeply rooted in, and loved by, the local community.
Experience Buddhist Culture through a Community Temple
Enter the main hall of a local temple, Seikouji, rarely visited by people other than members of the congregation. The head monk will offer insights into Japanese Buddhism, the meaning of religious offerings, and the relationship between temples and their communities through a short lecture. He will perform a short Buddhist sermon afterwards for those who wish to participate. There will also be quizzes and other activities to help you relax and have fun.
Making Rakugan with Artisans
After arriving at Rakushindo Hompo, take a small breather while enjoying matcha tea and rakugan sweets. Craftsperson Tomoko Ooi will give a short lecture about rakugan, particularly those used for religious offerings. Afterwards, with the guidance of Ooi, perform the coloring, shaping, and decorating processes of making Rakushindo’s signature rakugan sculptures. Each rakugan holds one’s gratitude to Buddha and one’s ancestors within, and attaching them one-by-one to the offering pillar is quite the meditative and healing experience. This simple process of rakugan-making requires a lot of skill and artistic sense, something you can experience for yourself through this program.
|Dates||Weekdays, Every 1st and 3rd Saturday 13:00~※ Please send us your preferred date(s) through the inquiry form. We will confirm availability with the workshop and notify you as soon as possible.※As the workshop’s busy season runs from June to August, tour applications will not be accepted during this period.|
|Languages||Japanese●Supplementary explanations in English via translation device or lecture board can be provided upon request. Please make a note in the message box during registration to request this service.※An English interpreter can also be arranged for an additional fee. Please contact UNA Laboratories for more details.|
|Participants||Minimum 2/Maximum 6|
|Reservation Deadline||10 days before the start of the tour (for example, please reserve by October 5th for a tour that starts on October 15th)|
|Payment Method||Advance payment at the time of reservation (VISA, Mastercard, Amex, JCB)|
|Attire||Please refrain from wearing clothing that exposes a lot of skin (for example, miniskirts, tank tops, etc.)|
|Note About Tour Conductors||There will be no tour guide accompanying this program. Customers are responsible for managing their own itineraries.|
|Cancellation Policy||20 to 8 days before the day preceding the tour start date: 20% of the tour fee
7 to 2 days before the day preceding the tour start date: 30% of the tour fee
Day preceding the tour start date: 40% of the tour fee
Before departure on the tour start date: 50% of the tour fee
After the start of tour or no-show: 100% of the tour fee
UNA Laboratories COVID-19 Policy
UNA Laboratories is committed to ensuring the safety of our customers, staff, and community. In accordance with municipal, national, and industry guidelines for the prevention of infectious diseases, UNA Laboratories is implementing the following measures:
- 1. Guides will wear a face shield during tours.
- 2. Guests are requested to wear a mask.
- 3. Hand-sanitizing alcohol will be provided.
- 4. We will check your temperature and general physical condition at the start of the tour. UNA Laboratories reserves the right to refuse tour participation if a customer’s temperature is over 37 degrees Celsius.
- 5. We strive to maintain adequate social distance throughout the tour, so the maximum number of participants will be capped at six.
Travel Planning: Implementation
- UNA Laboratories Inc. (Fukuoka Prefectural Governor Registration #2-951)
- 3-12-22-302 Yakuin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture 810-0022
- TEL: 092-982-7956E-MAIL: email@example.com
- Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors:
Aya Tamura, Noriko Yahata, Rei Watanabe
- Business Hours:
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (Closed Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays)
- *Requests received outside of business hours will be processed the following business day.
- *Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors are responsible for transactions held at the sales office that processes customers’ travel. Please do not hesitate to contact the aforementioned Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors with any questions or concerns regarding the travel contract.
- Weekdays, Every 1st and 3rd Saturday 13:00~※ Please send us your preferred date(s) through the inquiry form. We will confirm availability with the workshop and notify you as soon as possible.※As the workshop’s busy season runs from June to August, tour applications will not be accepted during this period.
※This program is scheduled to begin Spring 2021. If you would like to be notified when registration opens, please fill out the form below.
- 3.5 hours
- Recommended Age
(includes tax and material fee)
※Guests under 12 can accompany a parent or guardian on the studio and temple visit (without rakugan making) for free.