Making travel more mindful – can meaning experiencing activities out of the ordinary while on vacation. This is an example of mindful travel by achieved by taking a class while visiting a new destination. In this example, attending a woodworking class in Kyoto.

Anyone who’s traveled and enjoyed doing so knows that taking trips is more than just sightseeing. Sure, many people are excited by the thought of snapping photos at the world’s most beautiful destinations and sharing them on social media for friends and family to see. But sometimes, travel could be a lot more mindful when we come home equipped with more knowledge and cultural experiences.

Next time you plan a trip, why not consider taking a short workshop, perhaps even one that includes wood and tools? Woodworking is an engaging activity that could be more fun when done alongside other students or potential new friends.

There is no shortage in woodworking workshops, and although the classes are usually spread in 10 sessions or more, you don’t need to have a long stay vacation in order to enroll in classes. In fact, there are short courses you can do within a day or two, perfectly suited to a tourist, during which you learn basics from the experts. You can come with a partner and create your very own souvenir in a place like Japan, for instance, where there are institutions offering lessons on traditional woodworking.

In Kyoto, the Suikoushya International Craft School is one place to visit on a vacation in Japan. Courses are available in a single day or a more extensive month-long class. For the former, you will be introduced to tools native in Japan, which might be interesting for old woodworkers and find themselves comparing to their own equipment at home. The month-long course is a little more extensive as students will finish the class with finished joineries. But the staff take guests on a shopping tour to Japanese stores to buy tools, offering a glimpse into Japanese life.

What will the activity require from you? It’s likely that you won’t need any prior experience before taking a class. If you’re not used to working with tools, there will be volunteers who will assist and keep the activity safe one.

And if you have honed a long love for woodworking, it does not mean you’re exempt from the fun. There are techniques to learn that could be useful back home and you were unaware of before. If there’s a tool you fancy learning, it is important to inform your instructor ahead of time.

Teachers are usually more than enthusiasts. Takami Kawai from the Suikoushya International Craft School has devoted his life to the use of traditional techniques and has his own firm restoring old Japanese houses. He wanted Japanese carpentry to be more accessible after finding out that there are many tourists eager to learn about Japanese woodworking but are put off by the language barrier. Kawai-san conducts classes in Nihongo, an East Asian language, but teaches alongside an English translator so that students can follow along.

What do you get by the end of this course in Japan? Well, there are memories of the activity of course, just like a photo and a video. There can also be materials like books to keep the lessons fresh in your mind.

However, nothing matches the opportunity to learn about a new culture through the lens of another experience. And a unique perspective is not one to be undermined. It may be different from visiting museums while you travel, but it is still worth your time and enriches the experience of travel.

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