More than Meets the Eye
Join renowned Japanese art curator and presenter Kathryn Hunyor for an insider’s journey to the great cultural metropolis of Tokyo and Japan’s famous Setouchi ‘art islands’.
Traditional yet futuristic, timeless yet fast-moving, Japan has developed a bold and unique aesthetic in contemporary art, architecture and design that permeates all aspects of everyday life. The aesthetic adventure begins with ‘the-city-as-museum’, exploring Tokyo’s extraordinary new architectural masterpieces, art museums, design spaces and commercial urban complexes. Continue to the extraordinary ‘art islands’ of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima, where Japan’s artistic culture brims with a new confidence, and creating some of the most exciting and authentic contemporary Japanese art experiences.
Afterwards, enjoy an optional post-tour extension to Kyoto, awash with palaces, temples and gardens.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Suggested morning departure from Australia on JAL Airlines to Tokyo. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
Arrive in Tokyo (Narita Airport) on suggested flights in time for a group transfer to the hotel at 18:30.
For those arriving on other flights, transfer to the hotel on shuttle limousine bus (seated coach).
This morning join Kathryn and fellow art lovers for a welcome briefing and breakfast.
We kick off our first day with a walking tour of the Ginza, Marunouchi and Nihonbashi areas, exploring topical buildings such as the Ichigokan and Kitte, recent urban developments exemplified by Coredo, and contemporary art galleries such as Shiseido Gallery. Considering the interplay of contemporary and historical commerce and culture, we will explore recent and ongoing restoration of traditional areas, beautiful examples of adaptive re-use, and modern marketing, Japan-style.
This evening is at leisure.
Today will be spent on a walking tour soaking up the aesthetic feast that is Aoyama and Omotesando. Arguably the world’s best outdoor museum for art, design and architecture, we will see Kuma Kengo’s Sunny Hills and Nezu Museum of Fine Art, SANAA’s Dior Building, Tadao Ando’s Omotesando Hills, and other major works by both Japanese and international architects. This area is also home to a myriad of smaller galleries, studios and shops, often tucked away in back alleys, that beautifully combine commerce and art.
This evening is at leisure.
This morning join Kathryn at the International House for a talk.
Today we experience how ‘art permeates life’. While wandering Roppongi, one of Tokyo’s contemporary art and design hubs, we will see how refinement and sophistication have evolved over the centuries. We will visit major museums such as the Suntory Museum of Art and the National Art Center. Wandering through the new urban complex of Tokyo Midtown and discover Mori Art Museum in the afternoon.
The rest of the afternoon and evening is at leisure.
After breakfast, visit the Yayoi Kusama Museum, dedicated to the avant-garde artist.
Opened in October 2017 in a five-storey building designed by Kume Sekkei, the museum presents major works from her earlier years up until the present day. Kusama’s signature polka dots and pumpkin patterns are not the only found as the museum also houses stenciled glass façade, environmental installations and mirrored room series.
In the afternoon, visit Tokyo’s traditional Yanaka district, considered as one of the most aged parts of the city. We have the opportunity to stroll along its characteristic winding lanes and discover some of its temples and galleries.
Enjoy some free time in the afternoon to appreciate how the Japanese have elevated shopping to an artform. This evening enjoy a traditional Japanese meal.
Note: Yayoi Kusama Museum tickets will be available only two months prior to the visit. Therefore, while we undertake to operate the tour of the museum as published, this is subject to change.
In the morning, check out of the hotel and transfer to Tokyo Haneda Airport for a flight to Takamatsu (included in tour price), arriving in the early afternoon.
After lunch, explore Ritsurin Park, considered one of the best gardens in Japan. This landscape garden was built by the local feudal lords during the 17th century and divided into a Japanese style garden and Western style garden including historic trees, ponds, hills and pavilions. Its Japanese name translates as the ‘chestnut grove garden’. Dinner is at the hotel.
In the morning, depart Takamatsu and travel by ferry to Teshima.
Visit the Teshima Art Museum, one of the most fascinating contemporary architectural works in Japan. Standing amongst terraced rice fields, the simple concrete structure stimulates its visitors’ senses with the play of water drops on a concrete surface.
Visit another permanent artwork on the island, Christian Boltanski’s ‘Les Archives du Coeur’ (Heart Archives), located along the beach on the eastern outskirts of Karato.
Continue to Teshima Yokoo Museum which houses the works of artist and graphic designer Tadanori Yokoo.
Mid-afternoon transfer by ferry to Naoshima Island. On arrival transfer directly to Benesse Park Hotel, our base for the next three nights.
Begin with a visit of The Art House Project, started in 1998 in Naoshima’s Honmura district. The project takes empty houses scattered about residential areas and turns the spaces themselves into works of art, weaving in the history and memories of the period when the houses were homes. Presently there are seven houses – Kadoya, Minamidera, Kinza, Go’o Shrine, Ishibashi, Gokaisho, and Haisha – which are available to visit.
After lunch, discover the Chichu Modern Art Museum, built into the hillside overlooking the southern coast of Naoshima. Designed by Tadao Ando, it is primarily underground and utilises natural light to illuminate artworks by Claude Monet, Walter De Maria and James Turrell.
Continue to the Lee Ufan Museum featuring works by this Korean contemporary artist.
Prior to dinner, visit the Benesse House Museum. One of the pleasures of visiting Benesse House is unexpectedly encountering works of art, not only within the walls of the museum but also while strolling around the grounds, enjoying the abundant natural beauty of the Inland Sea region.
Benesse Art Site
The site combines Benesse House (a symphony of nature, art and architecture), the Art House Project (which weaves threads of everyday home life with the substantial strands of history), and Chichu Art Museum, a fresh reinterpretation of the potential of art museums.
Benesse House Museum opened in 1992 as a facility integrating a museum with a hotel, based on the concept of ‘coexistence of nature, art and architecture’. The facility consists of four buildings, all designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando: Museum, Oval (opened in 1995), Park and Beach (both opened in 2006). The museum, which performs the complex’s principal function of displaying art, is an imposing structure open to the outside world, and visitors can sense the presence of nature even inside the building. In addition to the works in its collection, the museum also contains permanent site-specific installations that artists have created especially for this building, locating the installations on their own and designing the works for those spaces.
In the morning take the ferry to Inujima. Visit the Art Project Seirensho, a museum that preserves and reuses the remains of a copper refinery on the island.
Continue with a visit to the ‘Art House Project’ developed by the art director Yuko Hasegawa and the architect Kazuyo Sejima. The project consists of five galleries scattered around the area, and are constructed out of a diverse range of materials that reflect the landscape.
Return to Naoshima. This evening celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a special farewell dinner.
Transfer by ferry to Uno port and continue via coach to Osaka airport (Kansai).
Tour arrangements conclude on arrival at Osaka airport (Kansai).
Suggested afternoon flight from Kansai Airport to Australia on JAL Airlines departing 14:00. Arrive in Australia on the morning of 17 Oct. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements, including flights and post-tour accommodation.
*DSU – Single supplement
(*DSU = double room for sole use throughout the entire tour)
#SSU – Single supplement (limited rooms available)
(#SSU = a smaller room will be provided in Tokyo (usually has a single bed) and a double room in Takamatsu and Naoshima)
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
08 August 2018
**This tour involves walking approx. 5-6 km most days.
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian passport holders do not require a visa for Japan.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in superior hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner). Local wines and beer with meals
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Talks and lectures with your tour leader throughout
- Comfortable air-conditioned coach and rail transportation
- Tokyo subway and metro pass
- Airport/hotel transfer on arrival (either group or hotel shuttle)
- Group transfer on departure to Kansai airport on day of departure
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival if not arriving on tour start date
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Tokyo – Cerulean Tokyu Hotel ****
Takamatsu – JR Hotel Clement ****
Naoshima – Benesse Park Hotel ****
# Please note that there are limited ‘double-bedded’ rooms available in most Japanese hotels. Most rooms for two persons are ‘twin-bedded’.
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted
POST-TOUR TO KYOTO
16–22 October 2018 (7 days) / Locally guided
Tuesday 16 October 2018 / Naoshima – Kyoto
In the morning, transfer by ferry to Uno port and continue via coach to Kyoto.
After lunch, arrive at the hotel in Kyoto and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
Wed 17 Oct / Kyoto
This morning begin with a visit to the nearby Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. It has burned down numerous times throughout its history including, more recently, in 1950 when it was set on fire by a fanatic monk. The present structure was rebuilt in 1955.
Continue to the Ryoan-ji Temple, the site of Japan’s famous rock garden consisting of a rectangular plot of pebbles surrounded by low earthen walls, with 15 rocks laid out in small groups on patches of moss. A feature of the garden’s design is that from any vantage point, at least one of the rocks is always hidden from view.
After lunch, enjoy a tour of the elegant Nijo-jo Castle, built by the first Tokugawa Shogun, a striking example of the splendid decorative luxury of the Momoyama period (1587–1615). Afterwards, visit the Kyoto Handicrafts Centre before returning to the hotel for an evening at leisure.
Thu 18 Oct / Kyoto – Nara – Kyoto
In the morning, depart Kyoto for Nara. Established in 710, this was Japan’s first permanent capital before it was moved to Nagaoka in 784.
After lunch in a local restaurant, visit Todai-ji, one of the world’s great wooden structures dating back to the 8th century. Amongst the many Buddhist images housed at Todai-ji is the Great Buddha, reputedly the largest wooden structures in the world.
Continue to the excellent Nara National Museum before returning to Kyoto. The evening is at leisure.
Fri 19 Oct / Kyoto
Today visit Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion), a Zen temple at the foot of Kyoto’s eastern mountains. In 1482, shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa built his retirement villa on the grounds of present-day temple, modelling it after Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion). The villa was converted into a Zen temple after Yoshimasa’s death in 1490. Stroll along the ‘Philosophers Path’ which follows a quiet tree-lined canal connecting Ginkaku-ji to the extensive buildings and grounds of one of the world’s largest Zen temples, Nanzen-ji.
After lunch, visit Sanjusangendo, a uniquely shaped long hall rebuilt in 1251 to house its central image of the thousand-armed bodhisattva Kannon. It is also surrounded by 1,000 gilt bronze images of Kannon.
Continue to the Kyoto National Museum (new wing) designed by the internationally acclaimed architect, Taniguchi Yoshio, for an introduction to the traditional arts of Japan.
Sat 20 Oct / Kyoto
In the morning visit the Miho Museum, nestled among the verdant Shigaraki Mountains. Designed by the renowned architect, I. M. Pei, the museum was funded and named after Koyama Mihoko, a textile business heiress and one of the wealthiest women in Japan. The museum houses the Shumei Family Collection of rare treasures from the ancient world and traditional Japanese art.
Continue to Saiho-ji (Kokedera), an ancient temple said to have been established by the monk Gyoki during the Nara Period (710 – 794), and later restored and converted into a Zen temple by the monk Muso Soseki, in 1339. The precincts are covered by more than 120 types of moss, resembling a beautiful green carpet, hence its other name, Kokedera, which literally means ‘Moss Temple’.
Sun 21 Oct / Kyoto
This morning visit Tenryu-ji temple, a scenic area at the foot of Kyoto’s western mountains. Established in 1339, this Zen temple has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A beautiful landscape garden features a central pond surrounded by the forested Arashiyama mountains.
Continue to the Arashiyama-Sagano area known for its scenic beauty, narrow streets, old villas and temple compounds. It was favoured by noble classes 1,200 years ago. Enjoy a walk through the area’s vast bamboo groves.
Return to the hotel for the remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure.
Tue 22 Oct / Depart Kyoto
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
Kansai International Airport (KIX) can be reached by airport bus service or express train departing from nearby your hotel. There will be local assistance to buy tickets.