This tour is specially made for art and architecture lovers. You will venture across the country, discovering for yourself some of Japan’s best main sights while visiting outstanding museums, art galleries, and architecture projects that will reveal to you Japan’s unique set of aesthetics and how they are incorporated into modern designs and modern life. Whichever season you choose to adventure in, this tour will also take you to some of the country’s most colorful festivals where you’ll see and become part of some of Japan’s traditional arts brought into modern life and displayed for all to enjoy.
- A visit to Naoshima Island – Japan’s internationally-acclaimed art project
- Private visits with local artisans passionate about preserving traditional arts
- A private dinner and performance with a Kyoto geisha
- An evening including a fusion of tea ceremony and traditional music
- Becoming a part of one of Kyoto’s seasonal festivals
- A ride on one of Japan’s swift shinkansen bullet trains
Spring Kyoto’s Imamiya Jinja Shrine Festival and Aoi Festival
The Imamiya Festival is a local festival filled with stoic prayer, festive parades of omikoshi portable shrines, and all the decoration that comes along with a shrine festival. It is during this festival that you will be able to take part in some of Japan’s rituals that come along with the Japanese Shinto religion.
Kyoto’s Aoi Festival is one of Kyoto’s three most famous and biggest festivals. It features an impressive and elaborate procession with everything decorated with aoi hollyhock leaves. The festival comes to a peak during said lavish procession, wherein locals dressed in the cloth and riches reminiscent of Heian era (794-1185) aristocrats fill the streets.
Summer Kyoto’s Gion Festival
Kyoto’s Gion Festival is Kyoto’s biggest and one of Japan’s most famous. The true beauty of this festival lies in the massive, elaborately decorated yama carts that are paraded through the streets, which is a seemingly impossible feat and amazing to behold. The festival is best in the evening when traditional music fills the air along with the soft light of the festival’s many paper lanterns.
Fall Kyoto’s Festival of Ages, and Kurama’s Fire Festival
Kyoto’s Festival of Ages (Jidai Matsuri) fills Kyoto’s streets with heroes, aristocrats, and commoners of old. The procession is an impressive show of Japanese fabrics, patterns, and designs.
The Kurama Fire Festival is perhaps the most exciting festival held in Kyoto. It is during this festive event that you will see children and adults alike practically running while carrying torches of fire around the village, bringing the event to roaring heights when they arrive at the village shrine at midnight.
The following tour is an example of what we can offer focusing on the art, designs, and architecture of Japan. If interested, feel free to contact us to find out what we can add to this schedule to make it special for you. We look forward to making a custom tour for you!
Day 1 Yokoso, and Welcome to JapanOvernight in Kyoto City
After arriving in Japan, you’ll transfer to your accommodation in Kyoto City. Itinerary will be tailored according to your flight schedule.
Day 2 Historic KyotoOvernight in Kyoto City
Today you will start to explore the historic capital of Kyoto. This city has become a hub for those passionate about preserving traditional life and arts, breathing new life into techniques that otherwise would have been left to history. You will tour some of Kyoto’s many World Heritage Sites, being treated to sights such as the glittering Golden Pavilion, a shogun general’s castle, a bustling traditional downtown market, and other gems hidden and well known. Your day will wind down among the winding paths leading to one of Kyoto’s most picturesque temples. It is here where you’ll perhaps catch a glimpse of a geisha, dressed in ornate fabrics made of silk.
Day 3 Forests of CreationOvernight in Kyoto City
Today holds for you a trip to the outskirts of Kyoto Prefecture. You will start your day with a visit to a forest art project, where you’ll find intricate works of art gracefully nestled amongst the surrounding nature. After that breath of fresh air, you will continue to the renowned Miho Museum, which is famous for its unique architecture that combines modern materials with traditional influences. Created by architect I.M. Pei, who also designed the pyramid at the Louvre, this museum is homage to the spiritual heritage of Japan. Leaving this museum in the forest, you will then make a visit to a pottery village where you will meet pottery artists in their studios and galleries while enjoying the overall charm of the village. Traveling back to Kyoto City, your evening will end with a most memorable experience – a private dinner, interview, and performance with a Kyoto geisha.
Days 4 and 5 Hidden Works of ArtOvernights in Kyoto City
These days journeys take you deep into discovering and understanding Japan’s traditional arts, crafts, and aesthetics. You will enjoy a visit to a graceful garden that makes its home at a gorgeous temple built in the traditional Chinese style. Continuing along, you’ll meet artisans who specialize in one of the many old craftsman techniques, make a stop at a folk art museum, and stroll through picturesque streets that are home to markets, cafes, specialty shops, and more, all set against the backdrop of Kyoto’s eastern mountains. These days also hold a unique day where you will visit the house of a renowned potter, and enjoy views of a garden that displays an intriguing fusion of art and architecture, designed by one of Japan’s most acclaimed architects – Tadao Ando. Subject to permission, you may also get the chance to visit a rare moss garden, considered to be the only one of its kind in Japan. One of the evenings will also be dedicated to a unique tea ceremony that combines itself with the traditional music of Japan, two art forms beautifully combined.
Days 6 and 7 Seto Inland Sea of ArtOvernights on Naoshima Island
Leaving Kyoto behind, you will move on toward Naoshima via one of Japan’s famous shinkansen bullet trains. Naoshima is an island that has been transformed into an amazing art project. While still holding on to its heritage as a fishing village, Naoshima has really put itself on the map with its three very impressive museums, and its fun art project that incorporates old houses in local villages. The island’s museums are highly acclaimed as they were designed by Tadao Ando, a world-renowned architect with a very unique style. You’re sure to enjoy the various exhibits as some are interactive, whereas some creatively play with shadow and light. Your second day here will take you to the islands surrounding Naoshima that also hold their own unique works of creativity as made by artists around the world.
Day 8 Garden Designs and Urban DelightsOvernight in Osaka
Today will start by taking a ferry to Japan’s fourth-largest island that goes by the name of Shikoku. Shikoku is most famous for its delicious food fresh from the farm field, but it also holds some beautiful gems. You will visit a village where you will learn about the island’s unique history, as well as about its renowned gardens. Leaving Shikoku, you will cross the sea, making a trip over Awaji Island where you will visit the famous Water Temple (we are sure you will be able to guess who designed this unique work by this point) before arriving at the city of neon lights and comedians – Osaka. Osaka is known best for its outgoing locals and its loud, vibrant nightlife. Walking through the city center at night is an experience not to be missed, as many lively stores, restaurants, and clubs stay open well into the night, creating the colorful atmosphere that this city is so proud of.
Days 9 and 10 Prismatic TokyoOvernights in Tokyo City
Bidding Osaka farewell, you will head toward its rival – Tokyo. In the morning you will take a shinkansen bullet train to the modern capital. During these two days you will thoroughly explore this city of innovations, getting deep insight into the typical everyday of the typical Tokyoite. It is here that you will find bits of history hidden in progress. Walking through Tokyo at night offers a much different view compared to how the city portrays itself during the day. Feel free to compare its brand of nightlife with that of its rival.
Day 11 Magnificent NikkoOvernight in Tokyo City
Today you head north. The palatial homage and World Heritage site dedicated to shogun general Tokugawa Ieyasu – the unifier of Japan – awaits you here. The splendor of this lavishly decorated mausoleum is the origin of the noted Japanese saying, “Never say you’re content until you’ve seen Nikko.” Leaving the temple complex, you will continue along winding roads to visit scenic Lake Chuzenjiko and the surrounding area that was carved out by the volcanic activity of Mt. Nantai ages ago. After making a last stop at a gorgeous waterfall, you will head back to Tokyo for the night.
Day 12 The Art and Trends of TokyoOvernight in Tokyo City
Your last day in Tokyo and Japan will be devoted to the city’s famous modern art and design museums, as well as to the cities trendiest areas. It is in Tokyo where you will find the birthplaces of many of Japan’s most unique pop cultures, sub cultures, and fashions. Any visit to Tokyo cannot be complete without visiting these areas, where said cultures come to life, and where tradition meets and mingles with the latest trend.
Day 13 Sayonara
Today you will head home from the land of the rising sun. We wish you happy and safe travels! We hope you are taking with you lasting memories of the times you had here in this fascinating country. Take care! Farewell, and sayonara.