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  • Writer's pictureShila Desai

Japan Textiles Arts and Crafts Tour

Sit back and enjoy photos from our April tours

Magical wonder at every turn

How can a textile buff (...insert your passion of choice) not fall in love with Japan?


Japan is a unique society. Traditional crafts have played an outsized role in making Japanese society unique.


Our spring tours of Japan opened eyes, hearts, and minds to traditional textiles and crafts of Japan. In a country that spent much of its history in isolation, Japan's unique art and craft traditions have been handed down from generation to generation. The first traditional crafts in Japan date back to 10,000 BC with beautiful ceramic wares intended for day to day use. Over time, traditional crafts developed from useful tools to fine pieces of art, and the pursuit of mastery and craftsmanship became embedded in the Japanese culture. As Japan opened up to the world in the middle of the 19th century, Western merchant ships were quick to return home with exotic art from the once reclusive nation. The private galleries and curiosity shops of London and Paris were flooded with Japanese woodblock prints, calligraphy and ceramics. Since then, the West's love affair with Japanese culture has continued, pretty much unabated.


On two back-to-back 14-day tours, we explored textiles, pottery and ceramics, lacquerware, gold leaf, woodworking, doll-making, and paper-making -- all employing various techniques and materials to form a dizzying variety of different designs. As we traversed Japan from north to south, from cities to rural regions, we discovered further divisions within different styles depending on the area of origin.


Against a heady backdrop of sakura in full bloom, we experienced the very best that Japan offers.



Visits to craft museums underpinned hands-on workshops in textiles, arts and crafts techniques. Edo komon sarasa stencilling, itajime shibori, Kaga silk yuzen dyeing, gold leaf, washi papermaking, and tsuzure ori, and weaving are some of what we tried.


Understanding Japan's spiritual roots in Shinto and Zen Buddhism through festivals and visits to shrines, temples, and monasteries deepened our appreciation of culture and rituals.


Gardens, sacred natural spaces, a tea ceremony . . . a few uniquely Japanese experiences that inform the Japanese aesthetic.


Everything kimono! The ubiquitous garment runs a common thread through Japanese history, society, and culture. It provides a canvas for the beauty that permeates both ritual and everyday Japanese life.


Hunting for textiles in craft and antique markets became a all-consuming pastime!


Food, as always, played a starring role on our tours. We explored every kind of Japanese cuisine, from date-night okonomiyaki and Michelin-rated ramen, to elaborate kaiseki and omakase. In a rural setting, we communed with local families in small groups to make mochi, sushi, and noodles together. Even the food halls of ordinary department stores elicited many oohs and ahs.


Embracing the traditional in ryokans, soaking away the day's sweet ache in onsens, and wondering if travel could get any better.

Conclusion: nah.


A personal highlight was an audience with Hiroyuki Shindo-san, Japan's indigo legend at his museum-studio.


No trip to Japan is complete without a good deal of head-shaking in equal measure to exclamations of "What a great idea!"


Astonishing were countless instances of the kindness and honour of the Japanese people. Memories of strangers walking us often befuddled travellers to our destination; train station personnel going to extraordinary lengths to retrieve a lost ticket; convenience store staff running after me with a few cents of change I deliberately left behind; and a taxi driver refunding the fare because he overshot my drop by a hundred metres. Most of all, a private impromptu flute recital in a sakura grove. Why? Because we were not exasperating tourists but cherished guests of the Land of the Rising Sun.



Patient teachers and fledgling students

We will do it all again, this time against the backdrop of autumn colours. November 2024. Are you in?


Write us!

Accolades

Thank you, Shila for giving me the reason to come to this magnificent country. I’ve had a wonderful time and know it is just the beginning steps of exploring this culture.Barbara B., Brooklyn, NY

An unforgettable introduction to the complexities of JapanLinda B., Calif.

A wonderful, finely curated trip. I look forward to coming back. – Rosie P., Calif.

I came away from this trip to Japan with a greater knowledge of Japanese culture, history and beauty. I am grateful for the vision to achieve such a comprehensive trip, and particularly to you who made all the arrangements. Thank you!Mary P., Calif.

This tour has been an incredible experience with the best tour guides. This is my fourth trip to Japan and everything is better than before. The workshops have been exceptional and authentic, which I especially appreciate. - Sherie Y., San Fransisco



Our 2023 tours sold out in hours. For advance registration, contact me.

 

Thanks for taking a look! I am Shila Desai, owner of E.Y.H.O. Tours. I personally handcraft itineraries, infusing them with curated activities, accommodations, and sightseeing. Together with my in-country teams, we deliver exceptional holidays every time. I invite you to leave me a comment or write shila@eyhotours.com


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