Art and Japanese Garden Private Tour
This Art and Japanese Garden Private Tour of Japan is designed to show you different styles of Japanese gardens as well as both ancient and contemporary art. There are endless choices of gardens and art destinations in Japan, and we went to great lengths to come up with this selection. While our model itinerary is a great place to start, as it is a private tour, you can modify it, slow it or extend it as you like. Tell us about your favourite styles of gardens and art, and we will design the trip for you.
Important notes about our model itineraries:
Our model itineraries are developed to show viewers the ideas for an itinerary and price guide. The itineraries can be further customized, and the accommodation and guide time can be adjusted to suit you. The number of people in your group will affect the price, too. We will give you more firm quotation once we develop your personal itinerary.
Day 1: Arrival
Welcome to Japan and welcome to Art and Japanese Garden Private Tour by Journey to the East! On arrival at one of Tokyo’s international airports, our escort will meet you and take you to your hotel in Tokyo.
Day 2: Guided tour of Tokyo
Tokyo has many exquisite Japanese gardens and art museums including the National Museums in Ueno. Depending on the season of your visit and your particular interests, we will suggest the best selection for you on this day.
Day 3: Tokyo (Omiya)
Take in more of the wide ranging offerings of Tokyo. Perhaps visit Omiya Bonsai Museum in the 'bonsai village' area. What about a day trip from Tokyo including Kairakuen Garden, Ashikaga Flower Park and Hitachi Seaside garden Park. The Hitachi Seaside Park is a blaze of colour most of the year.
Day 4: Kawaguchiko
This morning you leave Tokyo by train with your guide to head west to the town of Kawaguchiko, located in the Five Lakes district in the foothills of Mt Fuji. Kawaguchiko offers some breathtaking views of the majestic Mt Fuji, and its lakes and beautiful natural landscape only add to the beauty of the area. The visit to Itchiku Kubota Art Museum is strongly recommended, where you see superb examples of kimono art using the centuries-old “shibori” tie-dyeing technique. Tonight you have an option to stay at a traditional Japanese inn, and have the chance to soak in a hot-spring onsen bath with dramatic views of Mt Fuji across the lake (weather permitting of course!). Dinner at the ryokan is a multi-course Japanese kaiseki banquet. (Western bed accommodation options are also available.)
Day 5: Matsumoto
To start the day, you experience a traditional Japanese-style breakfast – a nutritious mix of grilled fish, miso soup, rice and pickles! After spending some more time in Kawaguchiko, you will head to Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture, heartland of the breathtaking Japan Alps. While in Matsumoto, Matsumoto’s castle is a top of must-see list. It is Japan’s oldest wooden castle and one of the nation’s five castles designated national treasures. The castle garden is home to a number of flowering cherry trees, which typically bloom in mid-April but are beautiful year round. Matsumoto is also popular for its cosmopolitan atmosphere and galleries amongst the stunning alpine setting. You can visit the Matsumoto City Museum of Art featuring the avant-garde works of internationally renowned artist Yayoi Kusama.
Day 6: Kanazawa
Today you head by express train to the city of Kanazawa on the Sea of Japan coast (just over 2 hours). With its historical heritage as a wealthy castle town, Kanazawa offers a huge array of cultural attractions. Upon arrival at Kanazawa Station, you will meet our Kanazawa guide and begin your guided tour of Kanazawa. Kanazawa is home to the sublime Kenrokuen Garden. We highly recommend you visit this memorable garden today and appreciate its formal structure. This is one of Japan's top three garden. Kanazawa is also a food lover’s heaven. Kanazawa’s sushi is highly sought after, but other cuisines such as beef teppanyaki and modern fusion cuisines are also available.
Day 7: Kanazawa
Kanazawa is a cultural hub of the west coast of Japan, and fostered many traditional crafts and arts. When it comes to places to visit for art and crafts, the selection is endless from the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art to the National Crafts Museum, which newly opened in Kanazawa in 2020 being relocated from Tokyo. The D. T. Suzuki Museum is a great example of modern architecture. Strolling the back streets of old suburbs such as the Nagamachi samurai district and geisha districts are a very special treat.
Day 8: Kurashiki
Today you head for another charming town of Kurashiki on the western reach of Honshu island by express trains. On the way to Kurashiki, you can stop over at the sublime Korakuen Garden in Okayama. This special garden has been recognized as being another of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan. Initially completed in 1700, Korakuen is prized for being a great example of the “scenic promenade” garden style, which reveals a new view to the visitor on every turn along its meandering path. Kurashiki was a prosperous trading town during the feudal era. This delightfully historic and picturesque town has maintained its 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.
Day 9: Adachi Museum
Today you travel by train to Yasugi to visit the garden at the Adachi Museum of Art. This garden has been nominated Japan’s most popular garden for 17 consecutive years. Designed in the “borrowed scenery” style, the mountainous backdrop to this extensive garden makes it appear that 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 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 10: Bizen
A short train ride will take you to the small regional town of Imbe, which has been producing Bizen ceramic-ware for some 1,000 years. Bizen-ware is still highly prized among pottery enthusiasts both in Japan and overseas. You can wander through the galleries, craft shops and working kilns and engage firsthand with one of Imbe’s most prominent potters in his own studio and private garden.
Day 11: Naoshima
Today, you will transfer to Naoshima by train and ferry. Naoshima was once a quite agricultural island. Today, Naoshima has been transformed into a contemporary art Mecca, colloquially known 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 visited by leading architects and artists from all over the world. The architecture alone is simply amazing. 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 artwork will spark debate, we know you will also enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and stunning natural scenery of the Inland Sea.
Day 12: Teshima
Potentially the biggest surprise of this Art and Japanese Garden Private Tour is today. This morning you hop on a ferry across Seto Inland Sea and visit another art island, Teshima. This small island has a fascinating art museum that blows anyone's imagination. The picturesque island offers a tranquil beauty of its own.
Day 13: Kyoto
With 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (at last count!), Kyoto is the historical heart of Japan’s culture and the guardian of many of its ancient traditions. Originally made capital way back in 794, present-day Kyoto offers an incredible range of contemplative gardens often associated with the ancient temples and shrines. Also when it comes to art and crafts Kyoto has no shortage of things to admire from antique paintings to ceramics, woodcrafts and fabric. Depending on the season of your visit and your personal interests, we will make suggestions for the best selections for you.
Day 14 : Kyoto
Kyoto is a fascinating old capital and there is no limit to what you can do here. Once again we can make suggestions to suit your preference. For example, you can make a day visit to nearby suburb of Arashiyama, Kurama or Takao, or visit the superb art museum of Miho in the neighbouring Shiga Prefecture. Of course other popular destinations such as Osaka and Nara are also possibilities.
Day 15: Departure
It is the end of your Art and Japanese Garden Private Tour of Japan and you will transfer from your hotel to your exiting airport after breakfast. You can exit Japan from Kansai International Airport or go back to Tokyo and leave from one of the international airports there. We will arrange the transfer for you whichever way you choose. And of course you can extend your stay in Japan. Please browse our Tour Extension Model Itineraries for ideas.
- 14 nights accommodation with daily breakfast
- Meals as specified
- Airport meet & greet and hotel transfer by public transport on arrival
- 14-Day Japan Rail Pass (Ordinary Class)
- Suica IC card with starter credit
- Locally licensed English speaking tour guides where specified
- International and domestic airfare (unless otherwise stated)
- Entrance fees to attractions
- Travel insurance
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)
- Personal expenses (laundry, internet, telephone, coin lockers etc.)
- Visa (if required)