Japan - An Exploration of its Arts

Matsumoto Castle
Matsumoto Castle
Senso-Ji Temple
Senso-Ji Temple
Okayama Castle
Okayama Castle
Skyline of Tokyo with Mount Fuji
Skyline of Tokyo with Mount Fuji
National Museum, Tokyo
National Museum, Tokyo
The Karamon main gate to Ninomaru Palace at Nijo Castle
The Karamon main gate to Ninomaru Palace at Nijo Castle
Imperial Palace Gardens, Tokyo
Imperial Palace Gardens, Tokyo
Imperial Palace Gardens, Tokyo
Imperial Palace Gardens, Tokyo

Experience the A to Zen of Japanese art and culture on this whirlwind tour through buzzing cities, remote islands and sprawling countryside. We venture from Tokyo’s Imperial Palace Gardens to some of the world’s largest art collections, imbibing tea ceremonies, ancient castles and visiting stunning temples.

An authentic exploration of Japan’s many traditions awaits. With time to take in some of this country’s most leading art galleries, we also participate in workshops that give us unique personal insight. Try your hand at the delicate practice of origami and the decorative swoops of calligraphy, learn how to make tea, and even put on a kimono. Travelling in the company of our expert guide, the stories and history to be found here will be revealed to us with passion and in a way that will bring the sites we visit to life from a brand new perspective. Join us in Japan and experience something simply breathtaking in the new year.

  • An evening visit to the Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo
  • Take a trip to Naoshima Island with its open-air exhibitions
  • Journey through traditional villages and landscapes in Shirakawa-go and Takayama
  • Experience the art of calligraphy with a private demonstration


  • Great Cities
  • Eastern
  • Cultural Excursion


  • Special Access
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

We depart from London on an overnight flight to Tokyo.

Day 2

Upon arrival, we transfer to our hotel where we check-in and enjoy lunch. Later, we take a relaxing walk around the Imperial Palace Gardens, an immaculate expanse of lawns, bridges, ponds and cherry blossom trees. The palace was the seat of the Tokugawa family, whose Shogunate reigned Japan from the early 17th to the mid-19th century and some old guard towers can still be seen.

Day 3

This morning we visit the Tokyo National Museum, which boasts one of the largest art collections in the world. Its collection of East Asian art is also one of the most impressive collections in Japan. After lunch, we enjoy a private calligraphy demonstration. Finally, we round our day off at the Sensō-ji temple, the oldest and most important Buddhist shrine in Tokyo.

Day 4

Our day begins with free time to further explore vibrant Tokyo. In the afternoon, if theatre schedules permit, we visit one of the theatres for a traditional dance performance of classical Japanese musical drama. The Noh theatre, for instance, is a form that originated in the 14th century and combines dance with music to complex storylines.

Day 5

A visit to the Nezu Museum with its private fine art collection gets our day off to a great start. Not only the collection, but also the garden and renovated buildings are exquisite examples of Japanese sensibility. From here, we visit Gotoku-ji, known as the temple of beckoning cats.

Day 6

This morning, we take the high speed train to Okayama. Upon arrival, we transfer to our hotel and pay a visit to the striking Okayama Castle, known as “crow castle” for its black exterior. The Korakuen garden near the castle is sometimes hailed as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan.

Day 7

We explore Naoshima Island this morning, a paradise for lovers of contemporary art. The island is known for its modern art galleries and open-air creations. We visit the Chichi Art Museum and the Honmura Village. This afternoon we return to Okayama.

Day 8

Today, we drive to Kyoto. In the afternoon, we take a scenic walk through Old Kyoto and experience a traditional, private tea ceremony. We also get the chance to wear a kimono, a traditional garment still worn today on special occasions. There is a style for both men and women, and a certain amount of skill is required to put it on. Experienced dressers are usually required to help.

Day 9

The Kyoto National Museum opens its doors to us this morning. Another of the major art museums in Japan, it focusses on pre-modern Japanese and Asian art. Later, we see how traditional fabrics are made at the Nishijin Textile Centre. Production has been taking place here for over 1,000 years and its highly decorative designs are woven into the fabric using different coloured yarns. Finally, we have an origami workshop, an ancient tradition involving creative paper folding.

Day 10

This morning, we make our way to the Imperial Palace, residence of the Imperial Family until 1868, and take a tour upon arrival. Later, there is free time in Kyoto before dinner.

Day 11

Today, we have an early start as we depart for Kaga and en route we have lunch. The area of Kanazawa is famous for its traditional Japanese crafts and upon arrival, we visit the ancient Kutani Kiln, exhibition hall and Kutani Art Museum. Here, we will have the opportunity to try our hand at painting some pottery.

Day 12

We set off to visit Shirakawa-go, a stunning village and UNESCO World Heritage Site where we will see miraculously preserved old style farmhouses. From here, we travel to Takayama, known as ‘little Kyoto in the mountains’, and stop for lunch. After exploring the historic district lined with wooden merchants’ houses, we continue on to our hotel.

Day 13

Built in the 13th century, Matsumoto Castle is one of the best preserved castles in Japan and our first visit of the day. Impressively, this amazing building still retains its original features. After lunch in the area, we make our way back to Tokyo.

Day 14

The chance to explore other museums or just do some shopping is ours today. Tokyo has much to discover and we have ample free time. Tonight, our dinner will be in the form of a Kaiseki, a traditional multi-course meal where presentation is of upmost importance.

Day 15

This morning we depart for the airport and after an independent lunch, we catch our flight to London Heathrow.

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - Most meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Hotels
  7. Flights

Travel Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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2019 Tour Details

Wed 4th September - Wed 18th September




sgl supp: £1,250


Led By: Prof Toshio Watanabe

Guide Lecturer

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