Our longtime friend Amy Osaki of Art Tours by Amy is guiding a trip to the little-known side of Japan. She usually leads only one or two art tours each year.
This November, explore Japanese art through iconic castles, monasteries, museums, and gardens. Step back in time and visit the home of a famous garden designer, remote art islands in the Seto Inland Sea, and discover the 1100-year-old Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.
Ask our WIT travel agents for more information or to secure your spot on this marvelous, once-in-a-lifetime tour. Space on this special trip is limited, but a deposit will guarantee your reservation. 503-224-0180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy studied art at the Louvre Museum in Paris, holds a master’s degree from Winterthur Museum, and worked as a museum professional for over a decade including six years at the Portland Art Museum. She has led art trips to Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Barcelona, Budapest, Krakow, Peru, Japan and Russia for the past sixteen years.
Japan Heritage: Art, History & Gardens
Dates: November 3-12, 2018
Arrive in Kyoto and depart from Takamatsu. Your travel agent will be happy to organize your flights in and out of Tokyo.
Day 1 – Kyoto: Nijo Castle, Ryukoku Museum, Nishi Hongwanji
Visit the palaces and the gardens of the Nijo Castle World Heritage Site built in 1601 for the Tokugawa shogun. At the Ryukoku Museum and Nishi Hongwanji, step further back in time and learn about the birth of the Buddha 2,500 years ago in India and the spread of Buddhism to Japan 1,000 years later.
Day 2 – Kyoto: Kyoto National Museum, Kawai Kanjiro
Today is a visit to the iconic Kyoto National Museum was established in 1897 as one of three national museums founded to preserve traditional culture, antiquities, temples and shrines. In addition, visit the museum’s new wing designed by architect Yoshi Taniguchi (who also designed the MOMA in New York). After lunch, proceed to the private home of Kawai Kanjiro, a ceramic artist who led a movement known as “mingei” whose aim was to perpetuate traditional Japanese folk arts at risk of disappearing due to the rapid modernization. Preserved by his family, the home exhibits over four decades of his art as well as the kiln (one of only 4 surviving in Kyoto) used by Kanjiro and other artists to fire their work.
Day 3 – Himeji Castle
After breakfast, travel via high-speed train (shinkansen) to Himeji town. Spend the day exploring Himeji castle built in 1609 and the best preserved of the feudal castles in Japan. Traverse the moat, pass through the gate, follow stone paths, and if you wish, climb the many flights of stairs to the summit of the inner keep of the castle where you can gaze out over the town.
Day 4 – Kyoto: Tofukuji Temple and Mirei Shigemori Garden Museum
Tofukuji, a temple built in 1236, is known for its spectacular display of fall foliage. Less well known are the four gardens at the head priest’s residence designed by Mirei Shigemori. In 50 years, Shigemori designed more than 180 gardens in Japan and worked with Isamu Noguchi on the UNESCO garden in Paris. We will visit the temple and gardens at Tofukuji, and in the afternoon Shigemori’s home and private garden. Shigemori described the melding of the classical and contemporary in garden design as “eternal modern” and his descendants have preserved his home and garden as a museum.
Day 5 – Teshima and Benesse House
Depart Kyoto and travel by train and bus to Uno port where you’ll board a ferry to Teshima, an island in the Seto Inland Sea. In 2010, a new program on Teshima Island opened as the Teshima Art Museum designed by architect Ryue Nishizawa and artist Rei Naito. The result is the “successful integration of art, architecture, and nature.” Continue to Christian Boltanski’s seaside art installation of Archives du Coeur which also opened in 2010. In the afternoon, journey by boat from Teshima to Naoshima where you’ll enjoy a two-night stay at the Benesse House Park Hotel designed by Tadao Ando. After dinner, you may visit the Benesse House Museum which is open to hotel guests until 11pm. In addition, enjoy over forty artworks in the hotel and on the grounds of the hotel and the museum.
Day 6 – Inujima and Benesse House
This morning, journey by boat from Naoshima to Inujima to experience another contemporary art project by Benesse House. Opened to the public in 2008, the Seirensho Museum on Inujima was created by architect Hiroshi Sambuichi and artist Yukinori Yanagi. Explore five art houses in Inujima village, a project led by architect Kazuyo Sejima and art director Yuko Hasegawa. Revel in the tranquility of the village and contemplate the industrial legacy and subsequent rebirth of this remote island.
Day 7 – Nagi Museum of Contemporary Art
Depart Naoshima by boat and travel to Uno port. Here, board a private bus for the journey north. Stop at the innovative Nagi Museum of Contemporary Art described by the New York Times as “more startlingly original than any built by a major city in recent years.” Conceived and designed by Arata Isozaki (who also designed the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles), this innovative museum is a delight and a splendid example of site-specific contemporary art. After lunch and the museum visit, continue north to Matsue, a city near the coast of the Sea of Japan.
Day 8 – Adachi Museum, Lafcadio Hearn Museum, Matsue Castle
Travel by private bus to the Adachi Museum. Created by Zenko Adachi, the museum melds its art collection with its garden. Adachi designed the gardens to be viewed simultaneously with the paintings and strived for the viewer to be “moved by beauty.” Adachi said, “The garden is, so to speak, a picture scroll.” You can take a virtual step into the gardens thanks to the Google Art Project. The Adachi Museum also exhibits a collection of ceramics by Kawai Kanjiro. Return to Matsue and continue the journey into 19th century Japan with a visit to the home and museum of Lafcadio Hearn. Hearn arrived in Japan in 1890 on assignment for Harper’s Monthly magazine. In Matsue, he married Setsu Koizumi in 1896 and became a naturalized Japanese citizen. He wrote 30 books celebrating the beauty and mystery of old Japan. Afterwards, tour Matsue Castle before returning to our hotel. Enjoy dinner on your own this evening.
Day 9 – Ohara Museum of Art
Depart Matsue by private bus and journey south to the Ohara Museum of Art in Kurashiki near the city of Okayama. Opened in 1930, the Ohara Museum was the first museum in Japan to exhibit western art. Works by Monet, Renoir, Picasso, Matisse, and Calder fill the galleries. Some, including Waterlilies by Claude Monet, were purchased directly from the artist in the 1920s. Ohara’s son expanded the collection to include Japanese craft including ceramics by Kawai Kanjiro and Bernard Leach who was a British potter and leader with Kanjiro in the “mingei” movement to preserve traditional Japanese folk art. After lunch, cross the Inland Sea via the Seto Ohashi (bridge) and arrive on the island of Shikoku.
Day 10 – 88 Temple Pilgrimage
Today we’ll experience a portion of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, a route closely associated with his life. Travel by bus from Takamatsu to visit five temples and learn about the pilgrims (known as henro in Japanese) who travel from all over Japan and the world to undertake the pilgrimage. Zentsuji (Temple 75) is often said to be the place where Kobo Daishi was born in the year 774. Consider purchasing a temple stamp book (called a nokyocho). At each temple office, you can have someone stamp your book with the vermilion stamps bearing the temple’s name. Then, using a calligraphy brush, symbols representing the main deity of the temple are handwritten in your book. You can acquire a blank book that you can use for any temple in Japan or a special book made specifically for the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Perhaps you will return someday to complete the entire route! Return to Takamastu for a farewell dinner and overnight.
- 10 nights of lodging in Western-style hotels/inns
- 2-3 Japanese-Style meals per day -> 10 B, 10 L, 7 D.
- Price: $6,650
- Single Room: $500
- Access to museums and attractions,
- admission to all sites,
- all ground transportation,
- expert insights into the art and culture of Japan provided by your trip leader and local experts.