Category Archives: Asia

What’s New in Tokyo? – Summer 2018 Edition

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It’s summer in Tokyo (along with half of the globe), and there are new attractions popping up all over the place in this bustle-and-whirlwind of a city. Here are some exciting events to check out in Japan’s busiest streets. (Courtesy of GoTokyo.org)

UPCOMING SUMMER EVENTS IN TOKYO

Hozuki Bazaar in Senso-ji and Asagao (Morning Glory) Flower Festival in Shingen-ji

The hozuki or “Chinese Lantern” is a symbol of early summer and the morning glory a symbol of midsummer. Both plants have festivals dedicated to them: the Hozuki Bazaar around Senso-ji in Asakusa held on July 9th and 10th and the Asagao Matsuri or Morning Glory Flower Festival in Shingen-ji, around Iriya, Kishimonjin held on July 6th, 7th and 8th. These two summer markets with their long histories are excellent ways to enjoy the season.

Borderless Art – Digital Art Museum by MORI Building and teamLab

The art collective teamLab and the urban developer MORI Building are teaming up this summer to open a Digital Art Museum in Odaiba. This museum’s first permanent exhibitions will be provided by teamLab. The exhibition is aimed at bridging the boundaries and encouraging interaction between art and its audience. As digital technologies continue to provide artists with more and more freedom, art itself is becoming borderless.

TOKYO EDO WEEK 2018 – Traditional Culture Today

From July 26th through 29th, the Ueno Park Fountain Square will be transformed into old Edo for the third year in a row. Tokyo Edo Week is an event celebrating traditional Japanese culture, focusing on kimonos. In addition, visitors can enjoy various other traditional arts and crafts.

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Metro and Grutto Pass 2018

For those who want to visit as many museums in Tokyo as possible in a short space of time, this is a great and convenient pass to have. The “Metro and Grutto” pass 2018 comes with two 24-hour unlimited ride Tokyo Metro tickets and free or discounted admission to museums in Tokyo. Satisfy your curiosity and discover what Tokyo’s museums have to offer with this pass! (Buy at Tokyo Metro pass offices, details in the link.)

Summer Fireworks: Painting Tokyo’s Night Sky in Dazzling Colors

Since the Edo period, Tokyoites have been enthralled by the beautiful lights of fireworks in summer. One of the largest displays of fireworks in the nation takes place along the Sumida River with more than a million spectators attending on the last Saturday of July. However, Tokyo offers plenty more spots where visitors can see this unique summer treat.

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Yukata Shopping in Tokyo & Tanabata Festival

Summer in Japan runs from June to August. During this time, Tokyo’s department stores, malls and supermarkets are filled with yukatas, a casual kimono-like garment worn in summer. The latest yukata trend is always a popular topic among Tokyoites, who love to wear yukata when going out, regardless of gender or age. Are you surprised that something as traditional as yukata can be so trendy and chic even today?

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Bonsai in Edogawa-ku

Kunio Kobayashi has refined the art of making Bonsai for more than four decades. He is known for his unique “Aji no aru Bonsai” (good taste Bonsai) style, which favors harsh lines suggesting the influence of natural elements on the tree, such as the rain, the wind or the snow . Mr. Kobayashi runs the SHUNKAEN Bonsai Museum in Edogawa-ku, Tokyo, a place that not only offers an exquisite exhibition of his acclaimed Bonsai, he also offers all sorts of unique experiences for international visitors wishing to get in touch with Japanese culture, as well as formal training in the art of Bonsai. SHUNKAEN BONSAI MUSEUM

MORE ON JAPAN — 

Japan – Asia

Springtime in Japan

Wittravel Agent Pam’s photos

20 Top Things to Do in Tokyo

10 Coolest Places to check out in 2018

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Travel News: The World’s Longest Sea Bridge

festivals around the world

Airlines Must Continue To Accept Service Animals

Reuters reports the US Department of Transportation told airlines on Tuesday that they must continue to allow the transport of the most common service animals, but said it was asking for public comment about amending its existing regulations. The department said in a statement that it “wants to ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue using their service animals while also helping to ensure that the fraudulent use of other animals not qualified as service animals is deterred.”

Yokohama On Track To Open Two New Cruise Terminals In 2019

Yokohama, Japan, is gearing up for increased calls and accommodating bigger cruise ships with two new cruise terminals due to be fully operational in 2019. Last year the Japanese port, 20 minutes away from Tokyo’s Haneda airport, welcomed 178 cruise calls and a similar number is expected this year. Five years ago in 2013, there were some 152 calls and 120 calls ten years ago. Princess vessels have been a regular highlight of the Yokohama skyline since they first began calling with Dawn Princess in 2009, Sun Princess in 2010 and Diamond Princess in 2013. Last year Diamond Princess alone made 21 calls and Majestic Princess made a maiden call. In 2019, Princess returns for a sixth season with round-trips from Yokohama.
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China Unveils World’s Longest Sea-Crossing Bridge

China’s new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, spanning 34 miles (55 kilometers), is the longest sea-crossing bridge ever built. Guo Xinglin, assistant director and senior engineer at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authority, said the tough conditions his construction crew experienced, as they perched on precarious platforms, working miles from land and high over the water, are evident. Due to open to the public this summer, this long snake of bitumen will connect a relatively small city on the Chinese mainland with the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau. Since the bridge was first suggested in 2003, it has stirred controversy. This massive span of concrete and steel is not just proof of China’s ability to build record-setting megastructures, it’s also a potent symbol of the country’s growing geopolitical ambitions.

Hawaii Tourism Gives Perspective On Volcano Situation

The Hawaiian Tourism Authority says that “there is absolutely no reason at this time for travelers to change or alter their leisure or business plans.” Here are some facts to back up the claim: All of the Hawaiian Islands are unaffected by Kīlauea volcano except a remote area on the island of Hawai’i’s east side. Out of the island’s 4,028 square miles, only less than a 10-square-mile area of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions in Puna is affected. All flights into Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keāhole, KOA (west) and Hilo International Airport, ITO (east) are operating normally. All accommodations, activities and attractions on the island are also operating normally, with the exception of those in the area affected by the lava activity. Air quality on the island of Hawai’i remains largely unchanged with this situation. However, air quality near where the lava is flowing can be hazardous (SO2-sulfur dioxide), and officials are continuing to monitor air quality. 
A Few Other Facts to Note About Kilauea: 
  • Big Island is 4000 sq. miles.  The volcano action is in one very small corner
  • Tradewinds blow from NE to SW and the volcano is in the SE of the island. Fumes and VOG would have to move SE to NW (reverse of the trade wind pattern) to impact Hilo, Kona, Kohala coast, etc.
  • There is another volcano, Mauna Loa, between Kilauea and most of the rest of the island.  Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on earth. Lava can’t flow uphill –
  • Yes, it is tragic for the people that have lost their homes, but it is a still a very small area that is being impacted.

Orlando First US Destination To Top 70 Million Annual Visitors

Open Jaw reports Orlando has become the first US destination to surpass 70 million visitors in one year. In 2017, 72 million visitors traveled to Orlando, an increase of more than 5% over the prior year, once again making it America’s most-visited destination. Visit Orlando, the region’s official destination tourism and marketing organization, shared the number at a gathering of more than 1,000 tourism and community leaders. “Our record-breaking year was achieved despite international headwinds and the statewide effects of Hurricane Irma,” said Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel. “In 2017, our destination launched new consumer experiences on a significant scale and our marketing efforts leveraged increasing consumer confidence in the United States. We also continued our focus on communicating the unique emotional connection visitors have with Orlando.” 

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Travel News This Week

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Royal Caribbean Tightens Cruise Cancellation Policy
Royal Caribbean International is tightening its cruise cancellation policy, making passengers more on the hook for a larger portion of the fare if they decide not to go before sailing. The policy has multiple changes. Chief among them: the cancellation window during which you would only lose a deposit is gone. For full cancellation details, be sure to contact your Willamette Intl travel agent! 
 
NASA To Develop Supersonic Airplane
CNN reports NASA to develop ‘quiet’ supersonic airplane for those who still hanker after the supersonic air travel offered by Concorde. NASA has announced it’s going ahead with plans to develop an aircraft that can break the sound barrier, but quietly. Without the sonic boom the plane could operate commercial routes over land. NASA has awarded Lockheed Martin a $247.5 million contract to build the supersonic aircraft. It wants the aerospace company to refine, build and test the experimental aircraft, known as the X-plane or “Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator,” and deliver it to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center by the end of 2021. 
 
American Airlines Lifts Curtain On Chicago-New York Shuttle Today
Chicago Business Journal reports American Airlines will debut its branded Chicago-New York shuttle service Wednesday. The shuttle launch is sure to spark yet another heated operational rivalry between AA and United Airlines, both of which have major hubs at O’Hare International Airport and both have extensive flights between two of the nation’s principal business markets. 
 
Travel Fraud Is Exploding, and It’s Hurting Travelers
Travelwirenews reports Travel fraud is on the rise, and it’s quickly becoming everybody’s problem. The rise of online travel has created a wealth of convenience and opportunity for users, who can now access last minute and discount fares to a degree unheard of even 20 years ago. However, says the digital security firm Sift Science, this has also created a broad platform for thieves and con artists. Travelers, hosts and even huge companies are vulnerable. Thieves steal, on average, between $283 and $588 per fraudulent transaction. In total, fraud costs billions of dollars per year. Airlines alone lose from $2.4 billion to $4.8 billion to credit card fraud annually, and it happens at virtually every point in the industry. For many travelers, it can represent a very real problem. For researchers and industry, “fraud” defines any purchase made under false pretenses. The trouble is that in travel there are many points of contact where this can go wrong. Thieves can often book travel using stolen credit cards or financial information, effectively stealing a high-value airline ticket or hotel room in the process. For hotels especially, same-day bookings are up to 4.3 times more likely to be fraudulent because the short time frame makes it far harder for the hotel or authorities to detect anything wrong. By the time a consumer has noticed the charge on his or her credit card statement, the criminal is often long gone. 
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India Limits Visits To Taj Mahal To 3 Hours Per Person
CNN reports the enormous white marble tomb, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can attract at least 50,000 visitors a day on the weekend, according to a spokesman for the Archaeological Survey of India, which oversees the Taj Mahal. “Sometimes people end up spending a whole day at the Taj. This creates a situation where there are too many people,” the spokesman D N Dimri told CNN. “It is being implemented so that the movement of visitors can be regulated. Day by day, the number of visitors are increasing. This is to ensure no untoward incidents or accidents occur.” He added there had been no incidents due to overcrowding at the site. 
 
China To Unveil World’s Longest Sea Bridge
Travelwirenews reports it is billed as the world’s longest cross-sea bridge. After seven years of construction, the new link between Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China is finally complete. Beijing says the $20bn project will cut travel time in half, bringing China and its two territories closer together.
 
New Whale Protection Strategy In Gulf Of St. Lawrence
Canada has developed a more nuanced approach to protecting North Atlantic right whales from vessel strikes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The 10-knot speed cap applies in certain areas, but ships will be allowed to travel at normal speeds in two set shipping lanes when no whales are observed. 2018 sees a fixed speed restriction in a large area of the Gulf where the whales aggregated in 2017 and a dynamic management approach for the shipping lanes north and south of Anticosti Island where temporary mandatory speed caps will be activated should a right whale be observed. 
 
Airport Pays $7,500 For Dog To Chase Birds From Runway
Fox News reports Yeager Airport, located in West Virginia, has purchased an 18 month border collie named Hercules to help protect public safety. The pup has been hired to chase birds and other animals off the runway, a problem that has been a concern for the Charlestown, W.Va., airport. “Every airport has problems with bird strikes and wildlife on the airfield. It’s a big safety hazard, so a dog can be a real predator,” Nick Keller, assistant director at Yeager, said. “It will keep birds, deer, coyotes, rabbits away from the airfield.” Hercules will have a reflective vest, safety goggles and ear protection to wear while he is at work. Keller said the dog could potentially reduce deadly animal collisions once trained. Hercules is currently being trained in North Carolina on a range of verbal and whistle commands. Yeager staff must also be trained to handle Hercules while he is at work. While on the clock, Hercules will be outfitted with a reflective vest, safety glasses and ear protection.
 
Scenic Expands To Northwest Passage, White Sea
With Scenic adding a second ‘discovery yacht’ in May 2020, the company is expanding itineraries. New are a 21-day Northwest Passage exploration, a 13-day adventure through Russia’s White Sea and, in late 2019, two opportunities to visit North America’s Eastern Seaboard, from New York City or Halifax. Scenic new Northwest Passage cruise will embark in Copenhagen and skirt the coast of Greenland before transiting the Canadian Arctic to end at Nome, Alaska. Limited to just 200 passengers and departing Aug. 15, 2020, ‘Across the Northwest Passage’ is a once-in-a-lifetime journey and a pinnacle of polar exploration. With the highest ice class rating of any luxury ship (Polar Class 6), Scenic Eclipse will make its way from Copenhagen along the coast of Greenland and through the Canadian Arctic until reaching Nome, Alaska. Travelers will get to visit Inuit communities and learn from the shipboard expert discovery team. There will be opportunities for kayaking amid icebergs, viewing polar bears and Arctic foxes and hiking across the frozen tundra. Russia’s White Sea is another seldom-visited area Scenic will explore. 
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Lindblad Expeditions Unveils Short Galapagos Cruises
Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Islander will sail a series of short one-week Galapagos cruises in 2018 and 2019, giving vacationally-challenged people the opportunity to see the bucket list destination without spending too much time away from home or work. Dubbed the “Wild Galapagos Escape,” the one-week journey is onboard the recently refurbished, 48-passenger National Geographic Islander and features five days in the archipelago, plus a one night pre-voyage stay in Guayaquil and the option of another night post voyage at no additional charge. All sailings include multiple shore excursions each day from walks and hikes to kayaking, snorkeling and paddle-boarding. New in 2019, passengers on any Lindblad sailing in the Galapagos receive complimentary drinks (excluding certain premium brands) and an hour of free Wi-Fi per person, per day. Dates for the Wild Galapagos Escape sailings are: 2018: November 24 and 29; 2019: April 27; May 2, 11 and 16; August 31; September 5, 14 and 19; and October 31. For those who have a little bit longer and also want to see Machu Picchu, the eight night Wild Galapagos & Peru Escape trip includes a night in Lima, two nights in Peru’s Sacred Valley and five nights on National Geographic Islander in the Galapagos. Departures for this tour are December 1, 2018; May 4 and 18, September 7 and 14, and November 2, 2019. Both trips include roundtrip charter flights from Ecuador to the Galapagos.
 
Air New Zealand And Virgin Australia To Terminate Alliance
Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia are set to end their seven-year-long trans-Tasman alliance in October. The termination will impact the strategic alliance launched by the airlines at the end of 2010 to partner on various services between New Zealand and Australia. Both carriers decided not to renew their existing regulatory approval for the alliance, which expires on 28 October. 

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Explore & Experience Southeast Asia with VExplore Tours

Looking to Step off the Beaten Track in Vietnam?

Think you know Thailand? Think again!

Always wanted to explore inner Myanmar?

VExplore Tours is one tour company that we highly recommend for unique itineraries in Southeast Asia. Discover a world beyond stuffy museums and explore terraced paddies, ancient stupas and hidden rainforests that are usually unknown to the avereage tourist.

Read More: WIT Agent Wailana’s Trip to Thailand and Laos with VExplore Tours

VExplore guides seek to open up new roads to travelers, so they “don’t just visit – they explore and experience.” Here are some unique itineraries that delve deeper into the heart and soul of Southeast Asia:

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Discover the Central Highlands of Vietnam

11 Days / 10 Nights – Saigon – Pleiku – KonTum – Buon Me Thuoc – Danang – Hoi An

For travelers who want an overview of Vietnam’s countryside

Step off the beaten track into Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Traverse splendid tea, rice and rubber plantations and encounter unique ethnic tribal groups exhibiting their traditional lifestyle through their work, ancient ceremonies and rituals. Immerse yourself in the serene and lush landscape of picturesque waterfalls, lakes, rivers, emerald mountains and the bucolic setting of lakeside minority groups.

From $1958 per person, includes: private roundtrip airport transfers, local English-speaking guide, 8 full days sightseeing tour with admission fees, 10 buffet breakfasts, 7 lunches and 2 special dinners, 10 nights superior hotel accommodation

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A Photography Expedition in Northwest Vietnam

12 Days / 11 Nights – Mai Chau – Moc Chau – Nghia Lo – Tu Le – Mu Cang Chai – Fanxipan Mountain – Sapa

For travelers who are photography enthusiasts or professional photographers

Trek deep into NW Vietnam to capture breathtaking panoramic images of stunning emerald terraced paddies, spectacular mountain passes, scenic valleys and crystal clear mountain streams. Photograph timeless village life, lively local markets – Vietnam is a photographer’s paradise.

From $2219 per person, includes: private roundtrip airport transfers, local English-speaking guide, 11 full days sightseeing tour with admission fees, 11 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 9 nights superior hotel and 3 nights homestay

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Island-Hopping in Southern Thailand

8 Days / 7 Nights – Phuket – Koh Yao Yai – Krabi OR Koh Samui – Koh Tao – Koh Phangan

For beach lovers and watersports enthusiasts

Thailand’s tropical islands are renowned for their idyllic and exotic beaches, top diving areas, laid-back vibe and scores of water activities. Discover prehistoric worlds of hidden sea caves, recline on pristine sandy beaches, kayak through secluded coves and sample succulent seafood.

From $1169 per person, includes: private roundtrip airport transfer, joining speedboat transfer islands-hotels, one day sightseeing tour, buffet breakfasts and 7 nights superior hotel accommodation

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Secret Adventures of Thailand

9 Days / 8 Nights – Bangkok – Khao Sok Elephant Hill – Cheow Larn Lake – Khao Lak

For travelers looking to get off the beaten track in Thailand to explore the country’s beautiful rainforests

A remarkable opportunity to explore rare primordial rainforests and bond with elephants at the eco-friendly Elephant Sanctuary.

From $1868 per person, includes: private roundtrip airport transfer, local English-speaking guide, 6 full days sightseeing tour including admission, 8 buffet breakfasts, 5 lunches and 2 special dinners, 6 nights superior hotel accommodation, 2 nights Luxury Tented Camp.

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Myanmar, The Golden Land and Ayeyarwady River

11 Days / 10 Nights, Yangon – Mandalay – Ayeyarwady River – Mingun – Sagaing – Bagan – Kalawa – Inle Lake

For travelers who step back in time to explore Southeast Asia’s last undeveloped frontier.

The mysterious land of Myanmar showcases its rivers, lakes, magnificent ancient stupas, monasteries, one-legged rowing fishermen, village life, extraordinary markets and the holiest sights in magical Myanmar.

From $2588 per person, includes private roundtrip airport transfer, local English-speaking guide, 10 full days sightseeing tour including admission, 10 buffet breakfasts, 9 lunches and 2 special dinners, 8 nights superior hotel accommodation, 2 nights onboard Ayeyarwady River Cruise. 

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A Tapestry of Adventure in Northern Laos

14 Days / 13 Nights, Golden Triangle – Houeyxay – Nam Kan National Park – Mekong River – Pakbeng – Oudomxay – Muang La – Nong Khiaw – The 100 Waterfalls – Pak Ou Cave – Luang Prabang

For travelers who love adventure and heading off the beaten track.

Relish the adventure of exciting river trips and nature at its most exotic. Trekking and gliding through pristine forests, you will experience wildlife encounters in Black Gibbon territory and find yoruself overnight in an amazing treehouse high up in the jungle canopy. As you venture from the Thai Golden Triangle into the lush and remote mountainous areas of Northern Laos you will encounter intriguing local hill tribes and find there is no experience like this anywhere in the world.

From $3868 per person, includes private roundtrip airport transfer, local English-speaking guide, 12 full days private tour including admission, 13 buffet breakfasts, 10 lunches and 2 dinners, 30 nights superior hotel accommodation. 

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Art Tour of Japan with Amy

art tour of japan with amy

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 inquiry@wittravel.com. 

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. 

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Himeji Castle

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.

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Pilgrims at Shusshaka-ji (Temple 72) on the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage

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. 

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Detail, Nijo Castle Gate, Kyoto

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.

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Yayoi Kusama’s “Pumpkin” on Naoshima

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.

Included:

  • 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.

 

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2018 Travel Trends: Walking Tours in and out of Town

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We know that many of our clients are revving up and ready to hit the road this year. Stay active and keep on adventurin’, that’s what we always say.

One of the coolest experiences you can have on a trip is a walking tour – it’s simple, doesn’t take too much time and effort, keeps your blood pumping, makes you feel energetic, and is a fantastic way to tour the city or countryside the way the locals do every day. Plus, you often get to see a side of the destination that many tourists don’t.

Here are some of our favorite walking tour companies – call Willamette Intl Travel to book yours today. 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com.

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Walking in Venice: luxury tours focusing on history, art and photography with art aficionados to the Accademia, or the Ca’Rezzonico, or the Ca’Pesaro and Fortuny Museum. Discover Renaissance Venice at the height of its power.

Spanish Trails: our in-country supplier for tours of Barcelona, Madrid and the Catalonian Coast. They offer small group walking tours in the city, wine tours in La Rioja region, or succulent food-tasting tours.

 

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Photo from Context Travel

 

Context Travel: Small group tours and private tours in many cities around the world, from Edinburgh, Budapest and Istanbul to Philadelphia, Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro. Spend the day with a local historian or scholar who will enchant you with their in-depth knowledge.

Chocolatine: How can we forget lovely France. Chocolatine provides a wealth of fun private walking tours (including those hard-to-find tickets to exclusive Parisian events!) all around Paris, Provence, Normandy and throughout.

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Adrienne & Renato: Adrienne & Renato are a husband-wife team, she from Portland and he from Naples. With their team of local guides they can arrange everything from private Pompeii tours to dinners in the Tuscan countryside. Their services include close, personal attention illuminated by a background in art history and mythology.

Art Tours by Amy / Mountain Hiking Holidays: It seems every time we check in with these folks, Amy and John Osaki have something new and exciting up their sleeves. Amy organizes the art tours in Europe and Asia, and John heads the mountain hiking trips all across the globe. Look for the next trip to explore the heritage of Japan, November 2018.

Marissa: Marissa is a one-of-a-kind one-woman operation in Buenos Aires. She’s organized tailor-made tours in and around the city for more than a decade — we highly recommend her if you’re in town!

“When you spend a day with Marisa in the fabulous city of Buenos Aires, you become Argentinian!!” ~~ John @ Wittravel

Sherpa Expeditions: Looking for a multiday challenge? these folks curated self-guided walking and cycling trips throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. They supply you with the itineraries, some of the gear, and hand-picked B&Bs and inns to give you that small-town feel!

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Filed under Asia, Europe, Travel by Backpack

Happy 2018 All!

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January 10, 2018 · 7:47 am