Sample Tours

Kumano Kodo Hiking and Kyoto Gardens and Art

This Japan Tour lets you explore both the breathtaking beauty of Japan's natural scenery and Kyoto garden and art highlights. We travel by private coach to the Kumano Kodo, a Unesco World Heritage Site made famous by Imperial pilgrims visiting three sacred shrines as early as the 10th century. We’ll hike along the Nakahechi trail through old forests in beautiful mountains settings. We’ll travel between Kumanogawa city and Kumano Hayatama Shrine on the Kumano River by traditional flat-bottomed boat, enjoy a private visit with the local Taiko troupe where you will have a chance to join in on the drums, and hike down to the towering sacred waterfall near Kumano Nachi Shrine. Experience the warm hospitality of a traditional Japanese Inn in Chikatsuyu and stay in beautiful Onsen Hotels in Kawayu Onsen Village and Kii Katsuura. The second part of our Japan Tour will be spent in Kyoto, Japan’s capital city for over a thousand years and center of the country’s artistic traditions. Visit Kyoto’s best Zen Temple gardens, Imperial Palace stroll gardens, museums and Unesco World Heritage Sites. Explore picturesque rural areas at the foothills of the mountains surrounding Kyoto and quiet, historic neighborhood streets. Browse traditional craft shops of bamboo, ceramics, paper, textiles and more. Enjoy delicious and imaginative Japanese cuisine.

Inside of Japanese building

Beautiful Japanese building with waterfall in the background

Japan Art and Crafts Tour

Join us for an exploration of Japan’s arts and crafts as we explore textiles, pottery, printmaking, washi, calligraphy, tea ceremony, ikebana, as well as gardens and architecture. Travel to Kyoto, the heart of Japanese tradition and culture and vibrant, contemporary Tokyo where we’ll learn about the history and development of each unique art and the culture that has shaped the Japanese aesthetic. Special arrangements are made for you to meet with a tea master, potters, textile weavers, dyers and both traditional and ‘art to wear’ designers. We’ll meet with a calligrapher and woodblock printers in their studios as well. We’ll visit some of Kyoto and Tokyo’s best museums as well as a stunning kimono museum in the Fuji Five Lakes area of Japan. You will delight in the flavors and presentation of Japanese cuisine. And of course you will be able to shop for artisan crafts from the artist themselves, at Toji Flea Market and in a variety of carefully chosen specialty shops. Japan is not only one of the most creative countries in the world, it is also the repository of Asian craft techniques that have been developed to high levels over the ages. In Japan where there is no distinction between arts and crafts, both traditional and contemporary masters (sensei) are honored. In turn, the artist respects the inner quality of the material which comes from the earth, the tools, and the final artistic project. The people’s closeness to nature has done much to form the Japanese aesthetic that we will immerse ourselves in on this tour.

Shop of arts and crafts

Pots and vases

Japan Horticulture Tours: Ferns of Japan

Join a Japan tour that will take you to mountains, rivers and streams in remote areas of Japan in search of Japanese ferns in their natural settings. We have had two fern tours thus far. On our first tour we visited the Tsukuba Botanical Gardens, a research branch of the National Museum of Nature and Science. This 36 acre facility is one of Japan’s foremost botanical research facilities. It contains an outdoor collection and three greenhouses with particular emphasis on vascular plants of Central Japan, East Asian ferns, Cycadaceae, Colocsia, and South American orchids. The Nippon Fern Club, whose members assist us as local guides, pick out the best hiking places that have a large variety of ferns. On our first fern tour we visited areas in the Kansai region of Japan such as Otamage pond near Hakone and Yokohama Park then traveled south to the Suginoyu area in Nara Prefecture. On our second fern hiking tour we explored the Usagidaira area, Bunarin forest, Tsuchiyu Touge, Fosyokumana and Ebara Lake areas around Fukushima and Sendai. Next, the group flew south by airline to KIX to travel to Shingu in the Kumano Kodo area of Wakayama Prefecture. Our groups are small and the hiking pace is slow

Japan Horticulture Tours: Wildflowers of Japan

Join Japan Specialized Group Tour’s journey in Japan in search of wildflowers as we follow paths into the spectacular scenery of remote valleys and the ‘other Japan’ well off the beaten track with Japanese experts who will share our journey. We’ll hike along the paths of temple clad mountains full of meandering streams in both the Kansai and Tohoku regions. The Kinki Wildflower Association chooses the best routes for us to explore in Osaka, Nara and Mie Prefectures. In the Tohoku area we will visit areas around Sendai and there is a tour extension to Hokkaido to search for wildflowers in areas near Sapporo.

Tour group