East meets Wet Paint in this original tour of Japanese art, history, architecture and culture. We’ll not only explore Japanese arts and crafts, but also the food, scenic mountain towns, premier castle, traditional inn and optional hot spring visit. This 7 day tour will begin where traditional meets contemporary arts at the Nezu Museum in Tokyo. That afternoon, you’ll have an option to visit the Japanese Folk Art Museum or the d47 Museum. The following day, we’ll take a bullet train to the mountain town of Nagano for a unique experience of zen culture, temples and the refined vegetarian cuisine of Japan called shojin ryori. In the city of Matsumoto, we’ll tour one of Japan’s finest castles, visit museums and take hands-on art classes. Take a day trip to the meticulously preserved post town of Naraijuku along the Nakasendo trail to shop and experience Edo era architecture and lacquerware. We’ll then head back to Tokyo to visit Asakusa, the “low town”, for shopping, sightseeing and entertainment near the popular Sensoji Temple before heading back home. (OR join our extended tour to Kyoto)
Koshiki: 651-734-3923 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Arrival and check-in at a hotel in Shibuya, Tokyo. Meet your guide and interpreter. Enjoy the first evening in Shibuya, a colorful, energetic district in Tokyo known for fashion, shopping, dining and entertainment. Your guide will be available to assist you and provide recommendations on shopping and places to visit. We’ll gather together as a group in the evening for a welcome dinner.
Today we will visit the Nezu Museum in Tokyo. The museum is known for its collection on pre-modern Japanese and Asian arts as well as its extensive Japanese garden. Afternoon is open to explore the d47 Museum for Contemporary Art and Design, visit the Japanese Folk Art Museum or shop for art supplies at Uematsu in Shibuya, Tokyo. We highly recommend getting up early on the second day to stroll around the Meiji Shrine.
We are taking the Shinkansen today, one of the fastest trains in the world, to Nagano Prefecture for a memorable zen experience and calligraphy workshop. Nagano is home to Zenkoji Temple, a national treasure, and one of the oldest and most important buddhist temples in Japan. We’ll be checking in at inn that once housed buddhist monks visiting the temple for zen training. The inn is known for its stunning vegetarian cuisine called shojin ryori. After check-in, take walk over to the Nishinomon Sake Brewery for a tasting.
After a blessing from the Head Priest and a morning Zazen meditation, we’ll travel to the picturesque castle town of Matsumoto. A cultural destination and home to one of Japan’s finest feudal era castles. After a tour of the castle, you’ll have time to visit museums, galleries and shops all within walking distance of our hotel. Matsumoto, a hotbed of arts, is also the birthplace of several well known Japanese artists including Yayoi Kusama. In the afternoon you’ll have the option to take classes or explore the city on your own. Your guide will be available to assist you.
Option 1: Aside from its arts and crafts scene, Matsumoto is known for its hot spring resorts. Japanese people enjoy the benefit of Japan’s volcanic geography by visiting therapeutic natural hot spring on their vacations. You’ll spend the day at town of Asama, have lunch, and relax in the mineral rich hot springs
Option 2: Take a day trip to Kiso and the beautiful old post town of Naraijuku to see carefully preserved Edo period buildings and architecture. This historic town stretches along the Narai river and is surrounded by a cypress forest, and is known for its traditional lacquerware crafts. The shops in Naraijyuku are great place to pick-up gifts for friends and family. Approximately one hour each way by local train.
After breakfast, we will head back to Tokyo on an express train. Back in Tokyo, you’ll explore the tourist friendly Asakusa district. The main attraction in Asakusa is the Senso-ji Temple. It’s Tokyo’s oldest and most significant Buddhist temple. This busy area is packed with shops, restaurants and theaters. Hire a rickshaw and take a tour of the area, and enjoy the last day in Japan.
The tour will end in Tokyo. Feel free to stay longer in the city or join us for a tour of Kyoto.
For those would like to stay longer in Japan, we have an optional tour of Kyoto. This famous city, once the former capital of Japan, is known for its gardens, temples and shrines, and is the home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites. TanpopStudio will arrange transportation, hotels and your guide, Koshiki Yonemura, will help you navigate Kyoto.
In the morning, we’ll take a Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto. This is the fastest way to Kyoto and we’ll be there in about 2 hours. After arrival at our hotel, we’ll walk to Kiyomizudera (Pure Water Temple) and visit one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. Then we’ll walk to Kawai Kenjiro’s house, who was a potter, poet, calligrapher and philosopher, to learn about the folk art movement in Japan during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Today, we will be visiting some of Kyoto’s most popular attractions. Starting at the Nishiki market, we’ll explore the sights, sounds and tastes of Japanese food. Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, the market specializes in sushi, pickles, local vegetables, kitchen tools, street foods and more. Then we are off to walk the Philosopher's Path, a famous stone path lined with cherry blossom trees in the northern part of Kyoto. From there, we’ll walk to Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) which is known for its elegant landscape architecture. After lunch, we’ll visit the Textile Center and learn about the craft of textiles and Kimono of the region.
After breakfast, we’ll take the Shinkansen back to Tokyo and the tour will conclude. Save the some room in your bags, to pick up some last minute gifts for family and friends before heading home. If you plan on staying longer, your guide can assist with suggest activities or internaries.
7 Days, Optional Kyoto Extension
4 - 10 people
Hotels, Local Transportation, English and Japanese Speaking Tour Guide, 9 Meals (11 meals for the 9 day tour)
Flight to/from Japan, Personal Spending, Transportation To and From Airport, Some Meals, Optional Activities