2020 Garden and Art Tour of Japan in Autumn
Highlighting natural and manmade beauties of Japan in blazing autumn colours, this tour takes you to some of the internationally renowned Japanese gardens as well as hidden small beauties.
The 2020 Garden and Art Tour of Japan in Autumn is specifically designed to showcase exquisite Japanese gardens against the background of the gorgeous autumn colours. The tour includes some of Japan's international standard art museums as well as small boutique galleries in Japan's iconic cities of Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Kurashiki, Naoshima and Takamatsu.
As with the other Journey to the East's popular small group tours, this 14-day tour only accepts 8 travellers. You experience Japan's rich art and cultural traditions along with its renowned autumn colours in the most classic destinations. This "Comfort" style tour offers superior comfort, extensive use of private vehicles, 4 to 5 star hotels, western style bedrooms all the way. You have the chance to experience the Japanese style hospitality of ryokan In Hakone. The ryokan (Japanese inn) has an onsen (hot spring mineral spa) and will serve a traditional Japanese banquet ( kaiseki).
This tour is the perfect way to get wonderful introduction to Japan in the peak of the autumn splendour.
Places visited: Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Kurashiki, Naoshima, Takamatsu
Group size: Maximum 8
Transport: Bullet and express trains between cities, private minivan for sightseeing
Accommodation: Superior-level (typically 4+ star) accommodation including Japanese-style hotels with western beds
Fitness level: Basic (please refer to FAQ)
Tour type: Comfort
Experience Kyoto’s exquisite gardens and temples at autumn’s peak
See iconic Mt Fuji and soak in a traditional onsen spa bath in Hakone
Relax at Benesse House on the 'Art Islands" enjoying contemporary art
Immerse yourself in art and culture in Kurashiki
Explore Arashiyama on the back of traditional rickshaw
Experience the old and ultra-modern in Tokyo at autumns peak
Be inspired by the magnificent Miho Museum (Gallery)
Wander through autumn foliage in contemplative Kamakura
Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo
Welcome to Japan! On arrival at one of Tokyo’s international airports, you will be met by a Journey to the East guide and escorted to your hotel by private transport. After a good night’s sleep, you will be ready to start the first full day of your 2020 Garden and Art Tour of Japan in Autumn.
Day 2: Hakone
Your adventure begins traveling by shinkansen super-express train for a lovely overnight trip to Hakone, a scenic hot springs resort area located in the mountains near Mt Fuji and renowned for its natural beauty and world-class art.
During your stay, you will visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum where amazing sculptures from the likes of Henry Moore and Rodin are set against a spectacular backdrop of autumn colours of the maple trees. You will also visit Narukawa Art Museum (gallery) to give you an opportunity to experience the exquisite view of Mt Fuji from across Lake Ashinoko and admire modern-day Japanese paintings.
Tonight you will have a chance to stay in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, where you can experience an authentic kaiseki-style banquet and a soak in a hot-spring onsen bath.
Day 3: Kyoto
You speed away by bullet train (shinkansen) to Japan's ancient capital, Kyoto. With 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Kyoto is the cultural heart of Japan and the guardian of many of its ancient traditions. Originally made capital in 794, present-day Kyoto offers an endless range of interests to engage in. It offers traditional craft shops, refined restaurants, ancient temples and Shinto shrines, contemplative gardens and much more.
This afternoon, you will be taken to select gardens in Kyoto in the peak of autumn colours.
Day 4: Arashiyama (Kyoto)
Arashiyama and Sagano are at the foot of the mountains to Kyoto’s west. You visit superb examples of Japanese gardens and bamboo groves here.
An authentic Kyoto rickshaw, a two-passenger wagon pulled by energetic young men in traditional garb, makes getting around the undulating hills that little bit easier. The chance to enjoy this area of natural of the incomparable Kyoto in late autumn is a real highlight.
Lunch is a classic Kyoto-style lunch of yudofu, freshly made from local tofu. On the way back to the hotel, we visit Kinkakuji Temple , Kyoto’s famed Golden Pavilion to see the stunning three-storied pavilion covered in dazzling gold leaf.
Over dinner tonight you experience a special performance by a maiko (apprentice geisha), and have the opportunity to learn more about this enigmatic art form and the life of a modern-day geisha.
Day 5: Kyoto
Today you visit to the stunning Miho Museum. Here you can experience a thorough immersion into the world of art, architecture and landscape design.
Renowned architect I.M. Pei designed this museum with much of the site built into a forested hillside. It was built to house an extensive private collection of some 2,000 antiquities from ancient civilizations.
The contrast of the glass and steel structure of the museum’s roof against the surrounding natural environment is spectacular. It is this seamless integration of the man-made and the natural which creates today's indelible memory. Past guests have said this visit ranks as one of the most impressive days of the tour.
You return to Kyoto to enjoy rest of the afternoon and evening at your leisure.
Day 6: Kurashiki
After a couple of days in Kyoto, you head for Kurashiki, which was once a prosperous trading town during the feudal era. This delightfully historic and picturesque town has maintained its charming streetscape of traditional black-and-white storehouses, merchant residences and canals lined with willow trees.
Kurashiki is the home of the Ohara Museum of Art, which has a superb collection of ceramics, paintings and antiquities from Japan, China and other ancient civilizations.
On a way to Kurashiki, we stop at Okayama and visit Korakuen Japanese Gardens, reputed to be one of the three best gardens in Japan.
Day 7: Yasugi (Adachi Museum)
For the guests of the 2020 Garden & Art Tour of Japan in Autumn, we believe memories of this day will last with you forever. You travel by train to Yasugi, a rural town on the western coast of Japan’s main island, to visit the garden at the Adachi Museum of Art. This has been nominated Japan’s most popular garden for 12 consecutive years.
Designed in the “borrowed scenery” style, the mountainous backdrop to this extensive garden makes it appear as though the mountains are a seamless part of the garden itself.
When viewed from the large plate-glass windows inside the museum building, the six separate gardens that make up the outside garden are effectively framed by the window to create six “living pictures”. The Japanese ceramics, paintings and fine wood carvings displayed in the museum’s exhibition complete a perfect day.
You return to Kurashiki to spend the evening at your leisure.
Day 8: Naoshima
Next is the art island of Naoshima. Once home to just a few remote fishing villages, Naoshima is now known colloquially as the 'Art Island" in Japan’s magical Seto Inland Sea.
Thanks to Benesse Corporation and the visionary Naoshima Art Project, Naoshima has been transformed into a cutting-edge contemporary art island and it is visited by leading architects and artists from all over the world. You will spend time on the island visiting the galleries, architecture and sculptures of Ando Tadao, Lee Ufan and many others. While we guarantee the installations will spark debate, you will also enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and stunning natural scenery of the Inland Sea.
Day 9: Teshima
After relaxing morning the ferry will take you to another art island, Teshima. This small island has a fascinating art museum that blows anyone's imagination. The picturesque island offers tranquil beauty of its own.
Later, You will take a ferry to another quaint regional city, Takamatsu on the island of Shikoku.
Day 10: Takamatsu
Takamatsu is a home of another great Japanese garden, Ritsurin Koen and internationally acclaimed garden sculptor, Isamu Noguchi. It is also known for its fascination of bonsai art. Takamatsu may look like a relaxed sleepy regional city but is full of surprises! just wait till we show you.
Day 11: Tokyo
This morning you will return to Tokyo and it is most splendid at this time of the year. The autumn colours are ablaze everywhere. Your guide will take you on a guided tour of Imperial Palace Plaza and an avenue where the 100-year-old Tokyo Station is blanketed in golden-yellow ginko leaves.
We also visit the Rikugien Japanese Garden in the evening. Rikugien was built in the early 1700s and is viewed as one of Tokyo’s best gardens in autumn. Rikugien demonstrates an exemplary 'stroll garden' style. In late autumn, the garden is illuminated at night.
Day 12: Kamakura
A day trip takes us to the historic seaside town of Kamakura, just south of Tokyo’s sprawling metropolis. The Japanese capital for a brief 150 years from 1185, Kamakura retains its strong Buddhist heritage and serene, contemplative atmosphere.
Kamakura has over 100 temples and shrines dating from that era, including a famous giant bronze Buddha constructed in 1252. The autumn coloured leaves put on a mighty dance among the temples. The trip there by its charming local “Enoden” train is a feature in itself. The train winds around numerous hills, temples, and wooden residences on its way to this beach side city.
Kamakura’s popular Komachi Street offers many craft shops and galleries, showcases some high-quality handmade wares and we recommend you a wander along the street.
Day 13: Tokyo
On the last day of Tokyo, and indeed of the tour, you will see a modern day Japan. We will visit Meiji Jingu Shrine in the morning followed by a stroll along Omotesando avenue. It is arguably the most fashionable street in Japan with cutting-edge architecture and houses the top brands of the world. Next on the cards is wonderful Nezu Museum, where you can enjoy the contemplative Japanese garden as well as one of the finest collections of Japanese and East-Asian pre-modern art.
You have the afternoon free to explore Japan’s vibrant capital on your own. Let us know if you’d like us to arrange something specific. Otherwise, you could spend the afternoon visiting one of the city’s many other museums, check out the latest technology in Akihabara, or feel the urban buzz in Shibuya.
Tonight, we catch up one more time for a farewell dinner at a restaurant with great night views – a degustation meal of modern Japanese cuisine.
Day 14: Tokyo and Bon Voyage
This morning after breakfast your 2020 Garden and Art Tour of Japan in Autumn concludes. You can depart from Narita or Haneda International Airport, or perhaps linger in Japan a little longer.
Airport transfer on departure is not a part of the tour (as we found many guests choose to stay in Japan a bit longer), however, we are happy to arrange your departure transfer. Ask the team at Journey to the East for assistance. And of course we will be delighted to plan your personal post-tour extension to show you a different part of Japan, too.
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 web site are representative and are not a commitment to what may be on view on the day.
- 13 nights accommodation with daily breakfast
- Lunches and dinners as specified
- All public and private transport for the group itinerary
- Suica transport IC card preloaded with starter credit
- Airport meet & greet and private transfer to hotel upon arrival
- Government qualified English speaking local tour guides
- Cultural activities and entry fees as included in itinerary
- Luggage transfers (1 piece per person)
- International and domestic airfare (unless otherwise stated)
- Transfer to airport on the last day
- Travel insurance
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)
- Transport when not travelling with the group
- Personal expenses (laundry, internet, telephone, coin lockers etc.)
- Visa (if required)
Had a fabulous time with a great group of people. I loved the country, the culture, the people and everything about the tour – hope to do another tour with JTTE – maybe Hokkaido or Kyushu next time
Vivien Hewitt, Western Australia
This was my first trip with JTTE and already I am looking at the program for next year thinking about another one. I liked the fact that it was a small group, the organisation was spot on and the food everywhere was outstanding.
Dee Mason – NSW Australia