Japanese Traditions & Your Event

Japan is a country rich in culture and tradition. I’d like to share a few traditions unique to Japan that can add a lot of character and atmosphere to an opening ceremony or product launch event.

Shinto Blessing Ceremony 

This ceremony is not commonplace at events, however it is rich in meaning and adds a level of formality and respect to the occasion. It is most appropriate at a grand opening of a business with a newly constructed building or facility.

The Completion Ceremony is a formal event to express gratitude for the safely completed construction, and to wish for the safety and prosperity of the new building in the future.


Following the ancient style, the ceremony is  traditionally believed to expel mischievous spirits.

0234When attendees arrive, they will be asked to rinse their hands in the traditional way so that they are clean and pure for the ceremony.


The priest will make offerings to the nature spirit using bows and claps and chants. The chant is a deep humming which everyone can participate in, led by the priest.


There will be a sake offering which is meant to sweeten up the evil spirits, keeping them from holding a grudge after being scared off later.


Kagami Biraki

Kagami Biraki is a Japanese traditional ceremony that date backs over 300 years and literally translates to “Opening the Mirror”. It is associated with good luck in Japan and the round lid of the sake barrel represents harmony. Today, it is performed at weddings, sporting events (it is particularly popular in martial arts), opening ceremonies of new companies, and other significant events.

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Kagami biraki used to be a samurai tradition back in the 15th century when the army Shogun ordered a barrel of sake before an important battle. The battle was successful so the custom of ordering sake barrels for good luck became popular.  In addition to special events kagami biraki ceremonies take place in January to welcome the New Year.

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During the kagami biraki ceremony, the lid of the sake barrel is opened using a kizuchi (wooden mallet). Then, a hishaku (wooden ladle) is used to fill the masu cups with sake from the barrel. Masu is a unique-looking wooden cup which is square in shape and was traditionally used to measure rice. The masu are made from Japanese Cypress or “hinoki”. When you drink from it, you’ll taste the woody aroma.

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As an added touch, you can custom order the masu for each event and can include your company name and logo which the attendees can take home as a keepsake for the event.


The atmosphere when doing kagami biraki is fun and lighthearted. People smile and laugh, as it is a moment of real celebration.

Ribbon Cutting

Ribbon cutting ceremonies are popular around the world, but in Japan they are very popular and add formality to any opening event – big or small.


In Japan, you will be presented white gloves and gold scissors for the occasion.

glovers and scissor

These are just a few Japanese ceremonies you can incorporate into your next event. There are also some fun options for entertainment that are uniquely Japanese. Look out for another blog post introducing traditional Japanese entertainment!

peak 1 works with D-ships to understand barriers


Last week we had the opportunity to work with an NPO here in Tokyo called D-Ships that educates people on accessibility for people with disabilities. We were able to learn through doing, which means we were provided wheelchairs  and were set free on the streets of Tokyo for an hour to do some community service.

As an event company, must think about  logistics and accessibility for all. The experience was very eye-opening and showed us a totally different point of view of Tokyo.

First we had basic training on how to use the wheelchair. We learned different ways to turn based on the situation, different signals to use and ways to stop and go. We also learned proper techniques to push and support the person in the chair.

We were tasked with picking up trash while we were out and about. We broke into teams and each group had a wheelchair and a trash bag. We took turns riding in the wheelchair and experiencing daily life things – like using the bathroom, buying something from the store, going to a cafe, using a vending machine, etc. It was also your turn to pick up trash when you were in the wheelchair.


We found out how difficult everyday things really can be with limited access.


Everywhere you go you see ramps into shops and restaurants and think they are accessible by wheelchair. However, most of the ramps are at an extreme angle and very difficult to manage without assistance. Even going down is very difficult.

We had fun and got lucky with beautiful weather. I remember thinking what it would be like having to do this same activity in the rain. It would be so much MORE difficult.


We took the exercise and the competition seriously and collected lots of litter and cigarette butts. The team with the most won a prize.

Afterward, we had a discussion about what we experienced. Our mentor throughout this experience, Uehara-san was very insightful, optimistic and educational. He is a para Olympian who has lived life in a wheelchair since birth and has experienced much more than many of us are able to do in our lifetime.


“A problem brings new opportunity” said Uehara-san.  He also discussed how the barriers can be a good thing because they promote communication between people in everyday life who would otherwise not necessarily communicate. We was very impressive.

After talking together, we all realized how we weren’t really able to appreciate the difficulties or notice the barriers until we experienced it first hand. Even the smallest bump can become dangerous from a wheelchair. Familiar roads seemed totally different with this new perspective.

We are thankful to have experienced this and look forward to helping plan barrier free events in the future.


Meet our New Global Team Member!

Keiyin is the newest member of the Global Team at peak-1.

She will assist in communicating with clients overseas to bring their promotions and events to Japan. Below is a little Q&A with her.


How long have you been in Japan?

A: 5 years now. The first year was for preparation education before college, then the second to fifth years were for college education.


Of course there are many reasons you have chosen to stay in Japan but tell us about a few of the main reasons you like living in Japan.

A: Firstly, I love Japanese food such as sushi, sashimi, ramen, yakitori etc. Of course I can enjoy these food in other places as well, but Japanese food in other places are more expensive and less delicious than those in Japan. That is why I stay here for enjoying the cheap and delicious food whenever I want.

The second reason is the beautiful scenery in Japan. For example, Kiyomizudera Temple is one of the places I always went for capturing beautiful scenes of Japan when I was living in Kyoto. I can always enjoy myself in this peaceful place in different seasons throughout the year. The atmosphere of Kyoto or that of Kiyomizudera Temple just changed totally along with the weather. This is something I can never be bored of living in Japan.

The third reason is the convenience stores in Japan. I just like spending time in convenience stores, especially checking if there are new products of Jagabee and Jgariko over there. Besides the snacks, I think the convenience store just introduced me a whole different level of convenience that a convenience store can provide. Like I can always buy daily products (e.g. lotion, maybe shampoo sometimes) when I happen to need them immediately but all the drug stores are closed. I think convenience stores in Japan are always my lifesaver.


For someone who has never been to Japan before, planning an event here or even a trip can seem like a daunting task. What would you say to someone who is trying to decide between Japan or another location in the APAC region?

A: As I have mentioned above, the scenery in Japan changes along with different seasons. For example, we can enjoy variations of natural scenery throughout the whole year, cherry blossom in spring, fireworks in summer, autumn leaves in autumn and snowy weather in winter etc. Sometimes we can enjoy autumn leaves and snow at the same time in Hokkaido. That would be something amazing to people who enjoy capturing nature. So, I think people might want to come to Japan at least four times if they would love to see and enjoy the change of scenery in Japan. Maybe people would feel they are in a whole different country when they come to Japan in each season. I guess this is something would make people choose Japan over other countries.


You are fluent in Japanese, English and Chinese. How has this shaped your existence in Japan?

A: I don’t know if this is related to your question, but knowing these three languages gave me many opportunities to take a role as a “bridge” between Westerners, Chinese people and Japanese people. Like one of my volunteer works I was doing, I went to primary schools in Japan and helped the foreign kids (2 from the US, and 1 from China) to fit in the Japanese community (e.g. mainly teachers don’t speak English) and with his or her classmates as well. Luckily, they were fitting in gradually with my help and I heard they are still doing great and have so many Japanese friends. I am sure they would not have been able to fit in as soon as they did without their Japanese language teachers as well. When I spent time with them, I shared my experience to those kids and  put myself in their shoes, then helped the teachers to understand what those kids were going through. By doing this volunteer work, teachers, foreign parents and kids can have a better mutual understanding, I felt happy because I helped people communicate with each other and helped avoid as many misunderstandings.


What advice do you have for businesses wanting to work with or within Japan but don’t speak Japanese?

A: Japanese people are being more open-minded to foreigners and know the importance of English speaking ability, compare to a decade ago. I think my advice for those people who want to work with or within Japan might have to learn a little bit of Japanese for simple conversations, and understand their culture, not just traditions but also business manners.


What types of events are you most excited to work on and why?

A: Maybe a launch event or a gala dinner for clients, because I love watching people networking. All the new projects or new ideas, new opportunities start from here, and it feels like I am watching a product which is like a baby who is going to grow. I hope you understand what I mean.


Japan is known for having 4 distinct seasons. What is your favorite and why?

A: Autumn maybe, not too cold or hot. Perfect weather for hiking or doing outdoor activities.


A lot of people like to live like the locals when they travel. What is something you recommend in Japan that would give someone this experience?

A: I might recommend people to go to an izakaya for drinks and Japanese bar snacks. Maybe watching live performances on the street is also a local thing in my opinion, like artists (singers, painters, dancers, etc).


What is your favorite tourist attraction in our around Tokyo? Or in other words, what is a *can’t miss* activity?

A: It is quite hard to pick one, Skytree, Ghibli Museum, USJ are the top three on my list. I know USJ is not in Tokyo but I just think it is way better than Tokyo Disneyland Resort. If I had to pick one place in Tokyo, I think visiting Skytree is kind of a must-do thing. People can enjoy the landscape of Tokyo and see the “heartbeat” of Tokyo from the observation deck.


Anything you would like to add?

A: I am a Hokkaido-freak, I just love everything related to Hokkaido. Especially the sweets in Otaru, I just can’t resist them. This is the only one thing I want to add.


Thanks Keiyin! We are excited to have you on our team!



Japanese Culture Uncovered: Hina Matsuri (Girls Day)

Hina Matsuri,  literally translated means Doll Festival (also known as Girls Day), is celebrated March 3rd in Japan. Small porcelain dolls, dressed like court nobles from the Heian period are displayed in the homes of families with daughters.

I did a little digging to find out a bit more about the background of this day along with how it is celebrated in modern Japan.

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The origin can be traced back 1000+ years (!!!!) to the Heian period which is known to be the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. The Heian period is named after the ancient capital of Japan and capital of that time (Kyoto).  This time period was a peaceful era and also considered the peak of the Japanese imperial court. It is noted for its art, especially poetry and literature. Up until this time, China influenced Japan a lot, however this was a period where society focused more on Japan itself and less on foreign influences. This is also the period before and leading up to Samurai coming to power. I did a little more reading on the Heian period and found that women were valued very highly and were said to be more powerful than men. Female authors were highly regarded and even served in court.

Back then, straw hina dolls were sent down a river to sea, taking away bad spirits, health problems, or any troubles with them. This part of the tradition does not happen anymore because the dolls would get caught in fisherman’s nets. In Kyoto still today, the Kamo Shrine will still celebrate by sending the little straw dolls straight out to sea (avoiding the river all together) and then later bring them back to the shrine and burn them once everyone leaves.

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It is too bad this part of the tradition has disappeared because it seems to be the most significant part in the origin story. Apparently it comes from an ancient Chinese practice where the sin and misfortune of a person, body and spirit, are transferred to the doll and removed by sending it down the river.

It was during the Edo period (1615-1868) when the tradition of displaying hina dolls began. The third day of the third month of the year was a holiday in Japan before that time, but there are no earlier records of doll displays on this day.

Food & Drink

Below I have described the food associated with this day, although not so many people actually have them.

Hishimochi: A diamond-shaped colored rice cake. They are usually red or pink, white and green. The red is for chasing away evil, the white is for purity and the green is for health.

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Arare: Little bite-sized crackers that are either sweet or savory, depending on the region of Japan.

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Ushiojiru: Clam soup. It is a simple salt-based soup with small clams still in the shell which represents unity and a good marriage.

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The traditional drink is called “shirozake” which is made from fermented rice like sake except it is nonalcoholic so children can drink it too. It is a cloudy white drink and tastes like sweet wine.

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I found a great article from the Japan Times going into detail about the different foods associated with Hinamatsuri that even includes recipes if you want to try your hand at preparing a traditional dish yourself.

Modern Hina Matsuri

Families generally start to display the dolls in February and take them down immediately after the festival, literally by midnight. Superstition says that leaving the dolls past March 4 will result in a late marriage for the daughter. This legend seems to be taken the most seriously of all, everyone is sure to take down there dolls for fear their daughters won’t marry.

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Typically, it is traditional for the grandparents to buy the dolls. The dolls are not cheap either! A set costs around $1500 USD and can go up to $100,000 depending on the size and quality. Most homes just have one set of a couple, it saves on space as the average home is small without much room for storage.

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Price of this set converts to $4000 USD


What are your thoughts on Hinamatsui? Does your culture have a holiday that is similar?


If you are hosting an event for less than 100 people and looking for a high class event space in central Tokyo, Wadakura Fountain Park Restaurant could be a great option for you.


The history here is nothing less than royal. Created in 1961, Wadakura Fountain Park was built to celebrate the wedding of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan.  It was renovated in 1995 for the union of Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako.

I spoke with one of our Account Managers here at peak-1, Sachiko Koyama, who attended a wedding at this event space. She told me about what stood out to here and why she has been looking forward to hosting an event here with clients in the future.

Location/ Atmosphere

Although Wadakuora is located in the heart of Tokyo, it is right next to the Imperial Palace with greenery all around making for a calm, peaceful atmosphere. The venue itself has floor to ceiling windows and high ceilings making it open and airy. The 5-star Palace Hotel Tokyo, overlooks this venue, adding to it’s convenient location and its luxury.




Because of the high ceilings the acoustics are outstanding, making this a great venue for live music and performances. Any event would do well here – from a press conference, to a launch party, company party or mini seminar. Day or night the fountains offer an ambiance you won’t easily find around Tokyo.


It is no surprise that the website is written all Japanese, but if you would like more information on holding an event here, please feel free to comment below!

Venue Pick: XIV Karuizawa

I asked our COO Makoto Ono, about some of his all time favorite venues. For something outside of the city, Ono recommends XIV Karuizawa. If you’re like me and don’t read Japanese, their website is a bit challenging to navigate. However I have asked Ono to answer a few questions about the space and this what he said.

What makes XIV Karuizawa special?

It is an exclusive property for XIV club members and/ or their guests. It has a good atmosphere and lots of activities to choose from like golf, tennis, shopping, hiking, and quality local food and wine to enjoy. The chefs take care to use fresh, seasonal ingredients in all their dishes.

There is a gym, pool and spa and outdoor bath where you can enjoy nature.


What kind of events to you recommend in this space?

  • Executive Seminar for up to around 100 people
  • Workshops, or Round-tables

This is the perfect location to combine leisure activities with seminars or workshops for a getaway that would refresh and motivate your team or clients.


How do we get there?

It is 60 minutes from Tokyo Station by bullet train and an easy getaway from city life.



First blog post

Hello! This is Kelly at peak-1 events and creative and this is our first blog post. Yay!

We decided to start a blog as a way to share a more personal side of peak-1 in addition to industry knowledge and opinions from our own experiences planning events here in Japan.

We understand that planning events can be overwhelming, even more so when you want to plan an event overseas. Japan can be a challenging country to break into with the language and cultural barriers, but we want to show you the benefits of working in Japan, along with tips and tricks on how to succeed.

This blog is here to help familiarize you and your business with Japanese business culture, and the culture here in general. We want to show you who we are as an events and creative business and how we can help you to pull off the event of your dreams.

We look forward to sharing and growing with you regularly so please check back for more!