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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.
Arrive in Tokyo on suggested Japan Airlines flights and transfer to your hotel for check-in (airport-hotel transfer included in tour price). Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including travel insurance (a condition of travel), accommodation before or after the tour and a room category upgrade.
In the evening, join your tour leader Kathryn Hunyor and fellow travellers for welcome drinks.
Following a morning talk by Kathryn, enjoy a walking tour of the Ginza, Marunouchi and Nihonbashi areas. Spend the day discovering topical buildings such as the Ichigokan and Kitte, recent urban developments exemplified by Coredo, and contemporary art galleries such as the 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.
This evening, enjoy dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Today, enjoy 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, 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.
Attend a talk by Kathryn and enjoy morning tea before exploring Roppongi, one of Tokyo’s contemporary art and design hubs. See how refinement and sophistication have evolved over the centuries and visit major museums such as the Suntory Museum of Art and the National Art Center. Discover 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. Then, wander through the new urban complex of Tokyo Midtown.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon and enjoy the evening at leisure.
This morning, explore Tokyo’s traditional Yanaka district, considered one of the most aged parts of the city. Take the opportunity to stroll along its characteristic winding lanes and discover some of its temples and galleries.
In the afternoon, visit the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park, which features an expansive collection of art works and antiquities from Japan and other Asian countries. Spend time exploring the Ueno district with its colourful variety of museums, galleries and architectural styles.
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 at a local restaurant.
In the morning, check out of the hotel and transfer to Tokyo Haneda Airport for a flight to Takamatsu (Economy Class flight included in tour price).
On arrival in Takamatsu, 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 as a strolling and entertainment garden 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’.
In the afternoon, check in to the hotel and spend some time at leisure before dinner.
In the morning, depart Takamatsu and travel by private ferry to Teshima, one of the most important of the ‘art islands’ in the Seto Inland Sea.
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.
Discover 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 the Teshima Yokoo Museum, which houses the works of artist and graphic designer Tadanori Yokoo.
Later, transfer by private ferry to Naoshima Island. On arrival in Naoshima, check in to the exclusive Benesse Park Hotel, followed by dinner.
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 open to visitors.
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.
Before 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.
In the morning, board a private ferry bound for a full day exploring Inujima Island in the Seto Inland Sea. One of the highlights of the ‘art islands’, Inujima was formerly the site of a copper smelter, now converted into a major artwork through the collaboration of artist Yukinori Yanagi and architect Sambuichi Hiroshi.
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 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 by private ferry to Naoshima and enjoy a special farewell dinner at Benesse House.
In the morning, depart Naoshima by private ferry to Takamatsu.
Tour arrangements conclude with a transfer to Takamatsu Airport for suggested afternoon flights to Australia. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour.
Per person, twin-share
Deposit per person (at time of booking)
20 September 2024
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Tokyo – Capitol Tokyu Hotel*****
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 limited ‘double-bedded’ rooms available in most Japanese hotels. Most rooms for two persons sharing are ‘twin-bedded’.
Tour code: AG2415
Fitness level: Above Moderate
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions here.
Suggested airline: 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 to visit Japan.
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