3 surprising cultural facts from National Geographic Family Journeys

November 29, 2022

There are some things you just can’t learn in a classroom. Luckily, National Geographic Family Journeys lets you take learning on the road with immersive travel experiences that get families up close and personal with some of the planet’s most historic locations and incredible cultures. Here’s a look at some of the fascinating cultural lessons you and your kids can learn on vacation:

1: Sumo has religious roots

The ancient Japanese sport of sumo, a form of full-contact wrestling performed by high-weight athletes, has its roots in the Shinto religion. Although Shinto — which is often classified as Japan’s indigenous religion — is no longer widely practised in Japan, most of the population still observe some Shinto rituals. This includes sumo wrestlers, who sprinkle salt around the ring to purify it — purification by salt being a Shinto rite — before wrestling. On our National Geographic Family Journeys tour to Japan, young travellers will get the chance to try on traditional sumo garb, and even learn a few moves from the pros!

Learn more together on: Japan Family Journey: From Ancient to Modern Times

2: There’s pizza in the Moroccan desert

While it isn’t pizza in the typical sense (for one, there’s no cheese!), you can treat your kids to a tasty slice of medfouna, which is also known as Amazigh or Berber pizza. This traditional stuffed flatbread originated in a small oasis town called Rissani on the northwest edge of the Sahara. In between 4x4 excursions over the Erg Chebbi dunes and traversing the dramatic landscapes of the Dades Gorge, you can dig into this local delicacy filled with meat, onions, and spices that is baked underground or in mud ovens. How do you say ‘chef’s kiss’ in Arabic?

Learn more together on: Morocco Family Journey: Ancient Souks to the Sahara

3: South Africa is full of early human fossils

Just north of Johannesburg at the Cradle of Humankind, your kids can get to know some of their earliest ancestors (well, what remains of them) known as “Mrs Ples” and “Little Foot”. One is a 2.1-million-year-old Australopithecus africanus skull and the other is an almost complete Australopithecus africanus skeleton that’s more than 3-million years old. You’ll find them by journeying deep into the otherworldly Sterkfontein Caves where your kids will learn all about these precursors to modern humans. Even better, you’ll finish the day with a traditional braai (barbecue) of grilled meats and vegetables and a chat with your hosts about life in South Africa. Delish!

Learn more together on: Southern Africa Family Journey: In Search of the Big Five

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