While most anime is focused on modern-day Japanese life, or life in fantastical worlds, there's actually a lot of anime with roots in traditional Japanese culture. These shows not only have great stories with compelling characters, but they're also a wonderful way to learn about real, traditional Japanese culture (without having to crack open a textbook).
Do you want to learn about rakugo, a form of Japanese storytelling? Try Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju. How about shogi, a form of Japanese chess? Try March Comes in Like a Lion. There's anime about traditional Japanese culture of every kind, so choose the one that best suits you.
Chihayafuru centers around an high school club with an unusual focus, karuta. Karuta is a physically and intellectually challenging card game based on Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, a Japanese anthology of 100 poets.
Rurouni Kenshin is far from the only anime that focuses on samurai, but it's one of the most well-known. Samurai were members of the warrior caste in medieval and early-modern Japan. They generally belonged to clans, and were expected to serve a daimyō, or a feudal lord. They followed Confucian teachings, and their behavior was often used as a model for other castes and classes.
Barakamon follows a young man named Handa Seishuu, as he learns how to balance his calligraphy career with his mental health. Calligraphy is a form of artistic writing, and it has particular importance in Japan. Almost every country with a writing system uses some form of calligraphy.
Natsume's Book Of Friends is one of many anime that include yokai, a variety of supernatural monsters, spirits, or demons that show up frequently in traditional Japanese folklore. Other shows include xxxHolic, Kekkaishi, and Mushi-Shi.
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