|Day 1 - Arrive at Narita Airport, where you will be met by one of your guides who will escort you to the Hotel Nikko|
Narita for your first night’s stay.
Day 2 - This morning, please bring your large suitcase to the lobby before breakfast. It will be forwarded to our hotel inKyoto. Have a smaller piece of luggage with essentials for the next two nights to bring with you today. After breakfastwe’ll travel to Haneda Airport, where we will transfer by air to an airport near Matsue, a castle town known as the ‘cityof water’ as it is near the Sea of Japan and the north end of Lake Shinji. We’ll lodge for two nights at the Dormy Inn Hotel. Our afternoon will be spent with visits to Greek Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn’s home and to Matsue Castle in the old Samurai Quarter. Matsue Castle, known as the black or ‘plover’ castle, was built from 1607 to 1611 by feudal lords of Izumi province. Unlike most castles, it never suffered from an attack or destruction by fire or earthquake. This evening, we’ll have dinner together at a local restaurant, and we’ll have breakfast at the hotel throughout our stay
|Day 3 – Today a private coach will take us to visit the Adachi Museum of Art and its gorgeous contemporary garden, considered by many as the world’s most beautiful garden. The view, a living painting, unfolds before us in a calm and serene way, refreshing our spirits. The museum has a wonderful collection of beautiful modern Japanese paintings by Yokoyama Taikan and other Japanese artists as well as a collection mingei folk pottery by Kitaoji Rosanjin and mingei potter Kawai Kanjiro. We’ll have lunch together at a restaurant near the museum. In the afternoon our coach will take us to visit Izumo Taisha, one of Japan’s most important and ancient Shinto shrines. According to two of Japan’s oldest historical chronicles, the Izumi area, considered ‘the realm of the gods or the land of myths’ was designated by the deity, or kami, Amaterasu as the place from which Japan was first ruled. The shrine, first mentioned in historical records 1,400 years ago, is dedicated to Okuninushi, considered the creator of Japan and the god of happiness and good relationships, as well as to Kotoamatsukami, heavenly kami. The main hall was built in the Taisha zukuri or oldest Shinto shrine style architecture and at the time, was the tallest building in Japan. We’ll be dropped off at our hotel afterwards. Dinner is onyour own tonight. .
Day 4 – After breakfast, we’ll travel by train to Kyoto, Japan’s center of art and culture for over a thousand years, continuing till the present time with a vibrant art and craft scene. We’ll provide you with your choice of sandwich or bento lunch to enjoy on the train. We’ll lodge at the Daiwa Roynet Hachinoguchi Hotel for the next five nights. After dropping off our small bags, we’ll take taxis to Tofuku-ji Zen Temple complex founded in 1236. Two of these famous small gardens have been remade in the twentieth century by noted garden designer Shigemori Mirei. The Superior's Quarters (Hojo) was designed in 1939 reflecting the simplicity of the thirteenth century while expressing modern taste and style. Entering the gateway we encounter stones configured as the Big Dipper to the east. On the left, jagged stones are set in a sea of raked gravel with powerful effect. They are arranged in four main islands and five mountain groups surrounded by sand raked into a modern ripple effect. The west garden consists of low shrubs maintained in a precise
checkerboard pattern. Funda-in was built in 1465 by a noted artist, Sesshu and rebuilt in 1939. It is the most historically important landscape at Tofuku-ji. There are two interconnected gardens both displaying a unity and harmony characteristic of the finest Zen gardens. We’ll have dinner together this evening.
|Day 5 – After breakfast this morning we’ll visit World Heritage Site Nijo Castle, a luxurious palace built in the early 17thcentury by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the last of the three commanders-in-chief in feudal Japan, called shogun, who unified Japan from 1570 to 1600 (and whose family dynasty ruled peacefully until 1867 when Japan was opened to the west. Ieyasu won total power and united all of Japan as one country in the battle at Sekigahara. Feudal lords, daimyo, who opposed him were forced to pay for the building of the castle but were not allowed beyond the third ‘level’ of its Ninomaru Palace, an audience hall consisting of five buildings connected by covered corridors, each built slightly higher than the one before; the lowest for messengers, the highest for the Shogun’s private quarters. Each room has hidden doors for escape or to hide guards. The ‘Nightingale Floors’ of the corridors squeak when walked upon to reveal someone’s presence. Gorgeous paintings by the Kano School of Painters adorn the walls of each room. The gardens were designed by tea master and Japan’s first professional landscape architect Kobori Enshu. One is known for its strong|
|Day 6 – At 9:00 am a private coach will take us to the Miho Museum, located in a spectacular forest and mountain setting about 1.5 hours east of Kyoto. Architect I.M. Pei designed the Miho Museum in an area that reminded him of the landscapes of China. You can reach the museum by walking or by riding shuttles provided for visitors. The museum was by Shinji-Shumei-kai, a new religion that is an offshoot of Shinto (the ethnic religion of Japan). Its main tenet is that spiritual fulfillment lies in an appreciation of nature and of art. The religion was developed by Koyama Mihoko, heiress to Toyobo, a textile manufacturer, and the museum holds her personal collection of over 2,000 objects valued at over a billion dollars. It has two wings, one devoted to Asian art and the other to classic ancient world art. At 12:00 noon please gather in the Pine View Tea room for lunch. Next, we’ll visit the home and studio of Takahashi family of potters in nearby Shigaraki where pottery making began in the 13th century and became famous as one of six favored styles of the tea masters a century later. We’ll have the opportunity to be guests of a family of three generations of local potters in their home and studio where we’ll learn about their lives and their styles of pottery. We’ll make a brief stop in Uji to visit the lovely Byodo-in, the only aristocratic temple architecture that exists intact from the Heian era (10th century). We can expect to see the vast areas of wisteria in bloom in all of its splendor. Our private coach will then return us to our hotel for the evening. Dinner is on your own tonight.
Day 7 – This is your Free Day to explore something of personal interest. Feel free to ask us for suggestions and advise.
|Day 8 – We’ll travel by taxi to Ohara, a picturesque village in the mountains north of Kyoto to visit two of my favorite temples, Sanzen-in and Hosen-in. We’ll have lunch at Wapato, a wonderful organic food restaurant located in a renovated farm house. After lunch we’ll return to the city to the Fureikan, Museum of Kyoto’s Traditional Arts and Crafts, where you can admire excellent displays of numerous crafts with explanations of how they are made and see crafts people at work as well. Next, to one of my favorite neighborhoods for tea and sweets at Ippo-do, a 400-year old purveyor of tea. This off the beaten path but lively street is filled with a number of excellent craft shops with handmade paper, indigo textiles, metal work, lacquer, woodblock prints, and more. Dinner is on your own tonight.|
Day 9 – This morning, we travel to Tokyo by train, arriving around noon. We’ll lodge at Hotel Gracery in the Ginza for two nights. After dropping off our bags we’ll taxi to fascinating Edo-Tokyo Museum, a museum of Tokyo urban history, which exhibits the history, life, and culture of the city from the 1600s to today. Dinner is on your own tonight.
Day 10 – After breakfast a Private Coach will take us to Itchiku Kubota Art Museum located 1.5 hours east of Tokyo on the north coast of Lake Kawagochiko in the Fuji Five Lakes region. Kubota is famous for reviving and modernizing a lost 15th-16thce Shibori silk dyeing technique called Tsujinohama, used to decorate elaborate kimono. After exploring the museum and extensive gardens that were designed by Kubota himself, we’ll have lunch in the area. We will be dropped off in the afternoon at the Nezu Museum in Shibuya. This small museum has a lovely Asian collection and a beautiful teagarden.
Day 11 – After breakfast this morning, we’ll taxi east to Musee Tomo, one of Tokyo’s most tasteful museums. The exquisite pottery collection here is beautifully displayed and the building itself is gorgeous. Next, we’ll visit the Axis Building in the Roppongi neighborhood that houses Nuno, Reiko Sudo’s shop of functional, innovative textile products. Her work is in numerous permanent collections around the world including MOMA in New York City. There are other galleries and shops in this building with fascinating products on display and for sale. We’ll have lunch at an Italian restaurant in the building. We’ll have a farewell dinner together tonight.
Day 12 – Travel back to Narita Airport for your trip home
Cost of the tour
(based on 100 yen per dollar)
$ 4300.00 per person for twin room (double occupancy) $ 4500.00 per person for single room
Included in tour
11 nights with western style hotel in Kyoto
All breakfasts with choice of western and Japanese foods plus 6 lunches and 4 dinners
All transportation within the country including taxis, trains, private coach.
All entry fees per itinerary
Two knowledgeable guides throughout the tour, fluent in both English and Japanese.
A detailed daily itinerary and other information to prepare you for your travel in Japan
Not included in tour
International airfare and trip insurance
Personal expenses such as telephone calls and laundry