Immerse yourself in the timelessness of Japanese design, exploring traditional and contemporary art forms that permeate everyday life through their bold, unique palettes and flavours.
Plunge into the cultural metropolis of Tokyo and explore the city’s remarkable artistic culture, including new architectural masterpieces, art museums, design spaces and commercial urban complexes. Continue to the extraordinary Setouchi ‘art islands’ of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima, where Japan’s artistic culture brims with a new confidence, creating some of the most exciting and authentic contemporary Japanese art experiences.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested Japan Airlines flights to Tokyo. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
Arrive at Tokyo Narita Airport on suggested flights in time for a group transfer to the hotel at 18:30 (transfer included in tour price).
For those arriving on other flights, transfer to the hotel by shuttle limousine bus (seated coach).
Tonight, enjoy welcome drinks with Kathryn and fellow travellers.
Following a morning talk by Kathryn, transfer to Meiji Shrine, the Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. Then, enjoy a walking tour soaking up the aesthetic feast that is Aoyama and Omotesando. Stop at Ota Memorial Museum of Art, and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Continue marvelling at the architectural wonders of the area as you walk down the tree-lined boulevard to the Nezu Museum of Fine Arts. 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.
The evening is at leisure.
This morning, visit Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park, which features an expansive collection of art works and antiquaries from Japan and other Asian countries. Spend time exploring the Ueno district with its colourful variety of museums, galleries and architectural styles.
In the afternoon, visit Tokyo’s traditional Yanaka district, considered one of the oldest parts of the city, and stroll along its characteristic winding lanes and discover some of its temples and galleries.
Dinner is at a local restaurant.
Today, experience how ‘art permeates life’. While wandering Roppongi, one of Tokyo’s contemporary art and design hubs, see how refinement and sophistication have evolved over the centuries. Begin the morning with a visit to the Mori Art Museum, a stunning collection of Japanese contemporary art, before transferring to the National Art Centre.
Continue exploring the aesthetic culture of Tokyo with a visit to 21_21 Design Sight, a museum created in 2007 by architect Tadao Ando and fashion designer Issey Miyake. Finally, visit the Suntory Museum of Art for an exploration of its ever-changing exhibition of ancient and modern Japanese design (visit to be confirmed). Enjoy some free time in the afternoon to appreciate how the Japanese have elevated shopping to an artform.
Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant.
Begin the morning at the Imperial Palace Gardens, and embark on a walking tour of the Ginza, Marunouchi and Nihonbashi areas. Explore 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, explore recent and ongoing restoration of traditional areas, beautiful examples of adaptive re-use, and modern marketing, Japan-style.
The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure to continue your exploration of Tokyo at your own pace.
In the morning, transfer to Tokyo Station for a train to Takamatsu (included in tour price).
Arrive in Takamatsu in the afternoon and 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 is 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 a local restaurant.
In the morning, depart Takamatsu and travel by ferry to Naoshima island. Naoshima is world-renowned for its modern art museums, architecture and sculpture, and combines sandy beaches and sunny weather with a laid-back, rural feel.
After lunch, explore its many art galleries, beginning with a visit of The Art House Project, which was 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.
Visit 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.
Then, continue to the Lee Ufan Museum featuring works by this Korean contemporary artist.
In the late afternoon, check in to the Benesse Park Hotel, our base for the next three nights, before enjoying dinner in the hotel.
This morning, take a ferry to Teshima island for a full day exploring one of the most important of the ‘art islands’. The Teshima Art Museum is world famous and perhaps one of the most sublime contemporary structures in the world. Visit the Teshima Yokoo Museum, which houses the works of artist and graphic designer Tadanori Yokoo.
After lunch, 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.
Return by ferry to Naoshima in the late afternoon. Dinner is at the hotel.
In the morning, board a ferry for Inujima Island. 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 Inushima House Project, developed by the art director Yuko Hasegawa and the architect Kazuyo Sejima. The project consists of five galleries scattered around the area, which are constructed out of a diverse range of materials that reflect the landscape.
Return to Naoshima in the late afternoon. This evening, celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a special farewell dinner with Kathryn and fellow travellers.
Transfer by ferry to Takamatsu. If time permits, visit another art site in Takamatsu before an early afternoon transfer to the airport (included in tour price).
Suggested Japan Airlines flight departing at 15:35 from Takamatsu to Tokyo, followed by suggested Qantas flights from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Australia and New Zealand departing in the evening. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any extra nights’ accommodation, either before or after the tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
13 March 2020
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.
Qantas and Japan Airlines
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa for Japan.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in 4- and 5-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner); drinks with welcome and farewell dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival in Tokyo and on departure in Takamatsu
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Kathryn Hunyor
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International and domestic airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, drinks, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
Transfers on departure if not using group transfers
Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Tokyo – Capitol Hotel Tokyu *****
Takamatsu – JR Hotel Clement ****
Naoshima Island – Benesse Park Hotel ****+
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.
Hotels in Japan
Please note that there are a limited number of ‘double-bedded’ rooms available in most Japanese hotels. Most rooms for two persons sharing are ‘twin-bedded’ (i.e. two beds).