Exploring Japan

TOUR FULL—waiting list available. Visit some of Japan’s most famous gardens while touring its large cities, mountainous terrain, and busy countryside. You’ll experience neon-lit Tokyo and Osaka, contemplate the serenity of Kyoto’s Zen gardens, and learn why the landscape architecture of this culture has so greatly influenced the world.

Among the gardens on our tour several began as vast private gardens surrounding castles in feudal times, which over the years have been restored as public gardens. Others are part of the cultural heritage of Kyoto, some are nestled into the wooded hillsides, and a few are recent additions to the landscape that have been voted modern favorites.

Kinkakuji 2004-09-21. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution

Ayumi Ikushima is our ‘local inside connection’ to the elegant world of gardens. She is a licensed guide with a passion for the gardens of Japan. Along with speaking English, German and French, she is a qualified instructor in ikebana (flower arranging) and the art of creating miniature gardens and she is a certified garden designer. She understands the inter-relationship of Japanese art forms, and how to shed light on the underlying symbolism and design components that are found in Japanese gardens. Ayumi has cultivated relationships with many professional garden designers and artists in the Kyoto area, and we will meet some of these people during our tour to get a deeper insight into the aesthetic realm of Japanese culture.

You’ll see Shinto shrines and castles and view steeply thatched roof homes on a drive through the Japanese Alps or while riding Japan’s excellent rail system. As you walk the back streets of old Kyoto where it abuts the eastern mountain range you’ll see examples of traditional crafts such as lacquer ware production, pottery making, kimono dyeing, and more.

Our itinerary also features examples of contemporary architecture and features Japanese dining and culture.

Greg Graves, PHS board member will escort this tour.