Explore the wonder that is Japan
In Japan, Nature held her breath. All longing was put to sleep in the stillness, and all was distilled into a clean simplicity. The smell of woodsmoke, the drift of incense; a procession of monks in black-and-gold robes, one of them giggling in a voice yet unbroken; a touch of spring in the air, a sense of gathering rain.”-- Pico Iyer
After more than two years of border closures, Japan has at last reopened to tourists. But only travellers on group tours accompanied by accredited Japanese-speaking guides are currently allowed.
Japan: a unique culture steeped in history, moving at the speed of a bullet train.
Through centuries of isolation, Japan claims arts, crafts, and textiles handed down from generation to generation. From 10,000 BCE’s first functional ceramic wares to today’s fine pieces of art, the essence of traditional crafts are embedded in Japanese culture. Japanese textiles, pottery and ceramics, lacquerware, metalworking, doll-making, woodworking and papermaking stand in a class of their own.
Whether you're marvelling at the geisha's fluid grace, pausing to inhale a perfectly brewed cup of sencha, or thrumming to the pulsating rhythm of Ginza, Japan has the power to captivate the most jaded traveller. On this 14-day tour timed to take in the spring Sakura (cherry blossom) festival, we will explore the best of Japan's culture, textiles, arts, crafts, and cuisine.
Tap into the spirit of artisans with intimate studio visits and workshops
FIVE hands on workshops in Washi papermaking, Kimono dyeing, Yuzen hand painting, Gold Leaf plate making, and Shibori
Master artisans' talks/demos on traditional textiles: Edo komon, Edo Sarasa, Kaga yuzen, Tsuzure-ori, Shibori, Sarashi
Demos/talks on folk crafts: Yamanaka lacquerware, Ando Japanese dolls, and indigo dyeing,
Textile/arts and crafts museums and the best of formal Japanese gardens
White Heron ‘Shirasagi no mai’ festival at Asakusa temple
Take in Zen meditation, Buddhist cuisine, and a Tea Ceremony
Home-visit and share meals with local families in rural Miyama
Explore 3 famous food markets: Tsukiji (Tokyo), Omicho (Kanazawa), and Nishiki (Kyoto)
Commune with nature in Mt Takao, soak in a Yamanaka Onsen, amidst the marvel of cherry blossoms *
Whizz off in Shinkansen (bullet train) and hop on public transportation like locals
Local shopping at Nippori textile street, Tokyo Antiques Market, Harajuku, and Arashiyama
Don a kimono and watch a Geisha show (optional)
Plenty of must-do experiences for first-time visitors: Arashiyama and Nara. And new ones for frequent Japan travellers
Options for “non-textilers”
*A natural phenomenon whose timing cannot be guaranteed
We support Mirai no Mori, a not-for-profit organization for abused and neglected orphaned youth in Japan, supporting their growth into happy and successful young adults https://mirai-no-mori.jp/
Optional extension: Kumano Kodo Walking Trail 5 days
Cost: USD 4950 pp double occupancy / add USD 1180 single supplement
***SMALL GROUP min 10/max 15***
Fully escorted by experienced local textile arts and crafts accredited guide, will accompany throughout
Accompanied by E.Y.H.O. founder-owner, Shila Desai
11 nights accommodations in 3-4* hotels
2 nights in Japanese Ryokan (traditional inn with natural hot springs)
All transportation costs in public transport, high-speed trains, and private coach (Day 12) including airport shared shuttle transfers
5 hands on workshops including materials, 4 studio visits, and talks
All entrance fees to museums, galleries, and studios
Meals: all breakfasts, 3 lunches (Day 4, Day 9, Day 12) 3 dinners (Day1, Day7,Day 13)
What to expect
From the natural to human-made, ancient to contemporary, urban to rural, folk arts to high fashion, deceivingly simple to mind-boggling complexity . . . we will experience the many facets of this fascinating society that has evolved uniquely through centuries of isolation
Textiles, textiles, textiles!
Through intimate studio visits and talks by master artisans, get your fix of time-honoured textile techniques of resist dyeing, dyeing with natural pigments, hand painting, brocade weaving, stencilling, "nail-weaving", and hand-spinning. As well as exciting modern textiles that embody the interplay of old practices and new technologies.
Folk and contemporary arts & crafts
Celebrate Japan's arts and crafts culture--from mingei , the unsung heroes of everyday craftspeople to world renowned installations in select museums. Speaking of museums, we will visit several: gold leaf lacquer, 21st C. Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto Museum of Craft and Design, Indigo Museum, and more.
For the deeper appreciation that comes from working on a technique with your own hands, we will take in FIVE hands-on workshops, carefully chosen to represent five of the seven major types of Japanese arts and crafts: textiles, pottery and ceramics, lacquerware, metalworking, doll-making, woodworking and papermaking.
If you're going all the way to Japan, go for its most beautiful natural phenomenon. For over a 1000 years, Sakura has garnered nationwide adoration. The short, enigmatic emergence of the blooms is a meditation on life, death, renewal and the ephemeral nature of being. Celebrated in Japanese literature, poetry and art; scrolled into the swords of samurai; symbol of fallen soldiers, new beginnings and friendship.
Note: Impossible to guarantee Sakura but tour is well timed to coincide with several blooming spots.
Specialised textile markets, antiques shopping, traditional shops for notions and remnants, contemporary fabrics . . . these stops will delight the "crafty" ones! Since many places stay open until late, we will endeavour to visit them later in the evening after the day's sightseeing so you can browse at your leisure.
Cultural double hit
Kyoto, as the storehouse of Japan's traditional culture, is a given. Outstanding pottery, kimono, doll-making, lacquerware, woodblock printing, and more. We also visit oft-overlooked Kanazawa, with its best preserved Edo architecture, spectacular Kenroku-en Gardens, and regional crafts of gold leaf, porcelain, delicate embroidery, and colourful washi umbrellas.
Our accommodations include charming ryokans (traditional inns) for a taste of classical Japanese life. Tatami matted floors, shoji sliding doors, onsen (hot springs and baths), zen-inducing surroundings, and tea ceremonies remind us that no matter how modern Japan may appear, its beating heart is tradition.
A given on every E.Y.H.O. tour since we are huge foodies! Explore famous food markets in Tokyo, Kanazawa and Kyoto. Entire districts given over to the pursuit of the inner gourmand. Buddhist cuisine at shrines. Meals with local families and tiny eateries for connecting over the food of an exacting culture. Get ready for culinary immersion!
Natural world, human interpretation
Explore tucked away rural beauty spots, gorges and waterfalls, and mountainsides bathed in cherry blossoms. We will also take in exquisitely landscaped formal gardens, celebrated bamboo groves, and Shinto shrines, including a farming experience with local families in Miyama.
Whether you're a Japan rookie or old hand, certain sights are so embedded in the Japanese psyche that they bear repeat visits. Nara, Arashiyama, Deer Park, stone lantern park, giant Buddhas, Fushimi Inari shrine .... these icons of Japan will stay with you as cherished memories long after the return home
what our travellers say
Penny Robinson, Kingston ON
“I have nothing but praise for this company. Well-thought out itinerary, expertise and high attention to detail, great at coping with the unexpected. Excellent value and honoured all promises.”
Deborah Foster - Melbourne, Aus
Thank you again for your excellent organisation before our trip. I found it the best and most helpful of any trip I have done. Your lists and the efficiency were excellent. The fabulous memories and textiles have buoyed my spirits through this difficult C19 year. I have highly recommended your trips to all my friends.
Jessica Bradley, Toronto
My tour with E.Y.H.O was the dream trip of a lifetime, a beautiful combination of adventure and cultural appreciation thoughtfully and thoroughly conceived.
I’m still processing. We did and saw so many wonderful things!