2022 Artisan Tour of Kyushu Japan

PHOTO:Koichiro Fujimoto

2022 Artisan Tour of Kyushu Japan

Ultimate experiences of Japanese artisans at the highest level of their crafts including textile, pottery, woodcraft, Japanese paper lanterns, pearl cultivation and more with unique accommodation and special meals in the spectacular autumn season.

Tour Overview

Opportunities for private meetings with Japanese artisans at the top of their craft in their ateliers. The tour includes Hakata-ori silk fabric weaving, Kurume gasuri indigo dyeing, traditional and modern potteries and woodcraft. You will also meet with a creater of the Japanese paper lanterns used for festivals and religious ceremonies, an incense maker in a mountain cottage, a pearl processor at a pristine bay near Nagasaki.

It is a Japanese high quality craft tour at its best. As a bonus enjoy autumn foliage in the backdrop.
Superb selection of accommodation including a renovated heritage building in Yame, a Kengo Kuma designed cutting edge hotel in Nagasaki, gorgeous hidden treasure ryokan in small onsen hamlet in Kumamoto.
To top it all off, a helicopter will take you over the Mt Aso region, one of the world largest Caldera which spans over 175 km2.

Group size:

Minimum 4, Maximum 8


13 Days

Start: Wednesday 23rd November 2022 in Fukuoka

Finish: Monday 5th December 2022 in Fukuoka

Price per person twin share:

Single Supplement:

Status: Available

Tour Code: GCK-22

*US$ price is approximate, using recent average exchange rate. AU$ price is the official price and will always be charged. Please refer to Terms and Conditions 2.1.



Day 1: Arrival in Fukuoka

Fukuoka, the river city, is the fifth largest city of Japan, very vibrant and cosmopolitan. It has good access with an international airport and a JR shinkansen station. Journey to the East always advises its guests on the best way to get to Fukuoka from where you are. On your arrival in Fukuoka (whether that’s by rail or air), you will be met by a Journey to the East guide and escorted to your hotel. After a good night’s sleep, you will be ready to start the first full day of your 2022 Artisan Tour of Kyushu Japan.

Fukuoka (Nishitetsu Solaria Hotel or similar)

No meals

Day 2: Dazaifu

JttE Special Experience #1!

One of the most representative crafts of Fukuoka is Hakata-ori (Hakata weaving) silk kimono fabric. Today, we will visit a manufacturer of Hakata-ori after visiting Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine and The National Museum of Kyushu. The distinct stripe pattern is a hallmark of Hakata-ori. It is based on motif of Buddhist ritual implements, which symbolize the protection of people from bad luck and prayer for prosperity. The company we visit is one of the oldest weavers of Hakata-ori founded in 1861, just celebrated their 160 year anniversary. The company is not only preserving the important skills, but also looking at the future use of this material.

Fukuoka (Nishitetsu Solaria Hotel or similar)

Breakfast, Dinner

Hakata-ori fabric of Nishimura Orimono in Fukuoka, Kyushu Japan
PHOTO:Koichiro Fujimoto
Buddhist alter created by Ogata Butsudan Honten in Yame, Fukuoka, Kyushu Japan
PHOTO:Koichiro Fujimoto

Day 3: Yame

Today you leave the capital of Fukuoka and transfer to your next base Yame City. Yame is perhaps most famous as a producer of highest quality green tea, gyokuro, but it is also a home to many traditional crafts including Japanese washi paper, lacquerware, woodcrafts and pottery. After arriving Yame by a private minibus, you will have a guided walking tour of the old town visiting a number of small establishments passing down their traditional crafts for generations.

JttE Special Experience #2!

As well as the visits to artisans' ateliers, today you will enjoy a morning tea at a green tea merchant which has been running for 14 generations (established in 1865). Here you will have an opportunity to learn the history of Japanese green tea and how to brew the perfect cup of gyokuro (highest quality green tea).

Yame (Nipponia Hotel Yame Fukushima or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Yame

JttE Special Experience #3!

Today we travel outside of Yame City to visit secluded workshops of special artisans. The first visit is a woodcraft workshop. Here an experienced craftsman maintaining his precisions of making wood barrels, buckets and containers. We can watch his work up-close as this is our private meeting. The second visit is to a potter's studio. Kyushu has many different ceramic traditions and styles. Having trained under one of the traditional methods, the artist now explores his own designs using local materials. Throughout the tour our guests will have several opportunities to interact with different styles of Japanese pottery both traditional and modern. It is fascinating to compare them and to find your favourite style.

Yame (Nipponia Hotel Yame Fukushima or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Yame

JttE Special Experience #4!

Today you are in for the real treat. Indigo dyeing is perhaps one of the most loved fabrics in Japan and around the world. Today you have a chance to learn all about this centuries old tradition.

In the afternoon, we will travel further into the woods to visit a wooden cottage where an artisan is making Buddhist incense from cedar leaves. This process requires pristine environment, hence the location. Even the power is generated by his own watermill in the property. You are in for the special experience!

Yame (Nipponia Hotel Yame Fukushima or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch

An artisan making a lantern used for the Lantern Festival of Yamaga Onsen Town, Kumamoto, Kyushu, Japan
PHOTO:Koichiro Fujimoto

Day 6: Yamaga Onsen

JttE Special Experience #5

Today we leave Yame and head for the old onsen town of Yamaga in Kumamoto Prefecture. The biggest event of the town is Yamaga Lantern Festival held on the evenings of August 15th and 16th every year. The highlight is the One Thousand Lantern Dance when hundreds of women, dressed in simple white summer yukata and red obi sashes dance elegantly through the night wearing beautifully crafted illuminated paper lanterns on their heads.

Today, we visit an artisan who is responsible for making these festival lanterns and have a guided tour of this ancient town.

Yamaga Onsen (Ichiboku Issou or similar - Japanese style room with futon bedding)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Aso

JttE Special Experience #6!

Today we have a little break from art and artisans and enjoy the magic of nature. The Aso mountain region is one of the world largest caldera which spans 175 km2. We will get on a holicopter and fly over it to appreciate the might that was formed from four major pyroclastic flow events which occurred between 90,000 and 270,000 years ago.

Later today, you will hop onto Japan's famous shinkansen bullet train to transfer to another iconic city of Kyushu, Nagasaki.

Nagasaki (Garden Terrace Nagasaki or similar)

Breakfast (Japanese style), Lunch, Dinner

Aso caldera in Kumamoto Kyushu Japan
Nagasaki embroidary example of dragon

Day 8: Nagasaki

While forever marked by the atomic bomb attack on 9 August 1945, Nagasaki has a rich and cosmopolitan history. Before Japan shut itself off to the world for two centuries from 1641, Nagasaki was the centre of Japan’s early contact with Dutch, Portuguese and French missionaries and traders. It was also the gateway for visiting ships from China, Korea, and Southeast Asia. This heritage is still evident in the city today in its architecture, culture and particularly its cuisine.

JttE Special Experience #7!
The crafts we cover in Nagasaki is Nagasaki Embroidery and Pearl cultivation. One of Nagasaki's major events, Nagasaki Okunchi Festival features Nagasaki embroidery. The 12 Chinese zodiac creatures created by the technique is almost 3D. There are only a few craftsmen who still have the skill today. Nagasaki is also the second largest pearl producer in Japan. We visit a pristine Omura Bay at one of the pearl culture sites.

Nagasaki (Garden Terrace Nagasaki or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Nagasaki

Today is a free day for you to enjoy this fascinating city in your own way. Nagasaki is an exotic city, even for Japanese people, with real mix of tradition and modern, local and outside influences. You can certainly visit the Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum for a moving and sobering introduction to the events of that tragic day in August 1945. Or Dejima Museum to learn about its medieval trading history.

Nagasaki has a lot of influence by its close neighbour China and home of one of Japan's largest Chinatown. Another claim to fame of Nagasaki is a night view. Why not visiting Inasayama Outlook after dinner on a way back to your hotel?

Nagasaki (Garden Terrace Nagasaki or similar)


Day 10: Arita and Imari

Today we focus on Japan’s ceramic traditions and the famous pottery towns of Arita and Imari. With its elaborate designs and influence from Chinese and Korean potters, Kyushu porcelain became highly sought after and popular both in Japan as well as Europe.

Today we visit some pottery kilns specializing in Arita-yaki, a highly decorated style using various colours, and Imari-yaki, a classic style traditionally using blue and white hues.

Tonight we will travel to a seaside city of Karatsu, the last base of this tour before going back to Fukuoka.

Karatsu (Karatsu Seaside Hotel or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Karatsu

JttE Special Experience #8!

The last but not least. We finish the tour with one of the most valued crafts of Japan, pottery. Karatsu ware is especially appreciated by tea ceremony practitioners for centuries. Today there are many kilns in this picturesque city by the sea. We will visit one of them to immerse yourself with the Japanese pottery at its best.

 Karatsu (Karatsu Seaside Hotel or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch

Karats Castle

Day 12: Karatsu

Apart from the pottery, Karatsu is very popular seaside destination with deep history. We will visit the former Takatori Residence, a great specimen of Japanese architecture. In the afternoon, we will head back to Fukuoka for one last night.

We meet in the evening for a farewell dinner, an exquisite sushi banquet. It will bring together all the elements of Kyushu's crafts discovered along our journey on the 2022 Artisan Tour of Kyushu Japan. 

Fukuoka (Grand Hyatt Fukuoka or similar)

Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13: Fukuoka and Bon Voyage

This morning, you will check out of your hotel after breakfast and your 2022 Artisan Tour of Kyushu Japan concludes. You can fly out from Fukuoka, or return by air or train to the international airports in Tokyo or Osaka. Perhaps you might like to linger in Japan for a little longer. We will be delighted to plan your personal post-tour extension to show you a different part of Japan. Please see our Extension Model Itineraries for inspiration!


Note: The cost of an escorted transfer to your departure airport is not included in our Small Group Tours (as we found many guests choose to stay in Japan a bit longer), but we will be happy to arrange your transfer to next destination or to exit airport. Please see our FAQ for more details.


sushi, yamanaka, fukuoka, GFK, GAF

Please note that there may be slight changes to the itinerary described above to accommodate changes in train timetables, opening hours, and hotel and restaurant availability.

All photographs on this website are representative only and are not a commitment to what may be on view on the day.



  • 12 nights accommodation
  • Meals as specified
  • Airport meet & greet and hotel transfer by public transport on arrival
  • All local transport (train, bus and taxi)
  • Locally licensed English speaking tour guides
  • Most cultural activities and entry fees included in itinerary

Does not include:

  • International and domestic airfare (unless otherwise stated)
  • Transfer on the last day
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)
  • Transport during free time
  • Personal expenses (laundry, internet, telephone, coin lockers etc.)
  • Visa (if required)