Oku-Noto Triennale

Immerse yourself in a festival of traditional Japanese culture, local delicacies and site-specific art installations across Japan’s Noto Peninsula during the acclaimed Oku-Noto Triennale.

Feast your eyes upon a Japanese artistic celebration, featuring works from a selection of countries in the secluded yet sublime Noto Peninsula. Discover the history of this culturally steeped region, the site where ancient cultures from the Asian continent entered Japan and shaped it into the land of today. Investigate the nearby city of Kanazawa, a city rich in history and religious traditions, as well as the former imperial capital of Kyoto, home to many enchanting traditional cultural practices.


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 Qantas or All Nippon Airways flights to Toyama via Tokyo Haneda Airport (flights not included). Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.

Tour arrangements begin at Toyama Airport at 09:00 and meet your tour leader, John McBride. Transfer to the studio of artist Ryuhei Nadatani at the Toyama Glass Studio and experience the process of contemporary glass art-making. Continue to the Toyama Glass Art Museum and observe the stunning exhibitions on show. The Toyama Art Museum is housed in a spectacular building designed by Kengo Kuma in 2015 and is home to a superb collection of contemporary glass artworks from both native Japanese artists and international masters, including an extensive installation by Dale Chihuly.

Transfer to Kanazawa, and enjoy a welcome briefing and special dinner with John and fellow travellers at a nearby restaurant.


Today discover Kanazawa, a city that has retained a strong cultural identity with traditional ceramics, lacquer and kimono production. Begin the morning with a visit to Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Traditional Arts and Crafts, one of Japan’s foremost regional art galleries. Continue to Kenroku-en Garden, a strolling-style landscape garden combining the six attributes of a perfect Japanese garden, before learning about Japanese Zen Buddhism at the D.T. Suzuki Museum, which commemorates the life and work of Daisetzsu Teitaro Suzuki, a prominent Japanese philosopher.

After lunch, transfer to the innovative 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and explore emerging new work in visual arts, design, craft, fashion, architecture and film.


Depart Kanazawa and transfer to the Nomura Samurai House, a beautifully restored home in Nagamachi which was originally owned by the Nomuras – a wealthy samurai family who served the ruling oligarchs until the end of the Edo period in the mid-19th century.

Continue to the Noto Peninsula, a serene and secluded headland which extends 100km into the Sea of Japan on the northern side of Honshu. The area is known for its rugged seascapes, rural lifestyle and wealth of cultural institutions away from the urban sprawl of Japan’s larger urban centres. After lunch, visit the Wajima Lacquerware Centre and learn about the history and production techniques of this traditional art form, before exploring the Wajima Kiriko Art Museum – a gallery dedicated to the giant paper votive lanterns used during the summer Kiriko festivals.

Check in to the hotel, our base for the next three nights, and enjoy dinner at the hotel.


This morning, transfer to the site of the Oku-Noto Triennale. Inaugurated in 2017, the Oku-Noto Triennale, one of three Japanese contemporary art triennales directed by Fram Kitagawa, is centred around the city of Suzu and draws inspiration from the isolated landscape and verdant terrain of the surrounding region.

The festival is a celebration of traditional Japanese culture as well as innovative contemporary design, and features a variety of artworks, from ritual Kiriko lanterns and Suzu-yaki pottery, to installations which incorporate elements of the Noto Peninsula’s iconic salt fields, terraced rice paddies and the ever-present surrounding seas.

Spend a full day exploring the various artworks of some of Japan’s most exciting modern artists before returning to the hotel (program to be announced late 2019).


Return to the art sites of the Oku-Noto Triennale and spend another full day exploring the magnificent installations.

Return to the hotel in the evening for dinner.


Depart the Noto Peninsula to Kyoto and visit Eihei-ji Temple on the way. Founded in 1244 by priest, poet and philosopher Eihei Dōgen, Eihei-ji is the head temple of the Sōtō School of Zen Buddhism, the largest single religious denomination in Japan. Spend some time exploring the grounds and learning about the philosophy of this training monastery, which today is home to over 200 monks and nuns.

Then, continue to Kyoto. With its hundreds of temples and gardens, Kyoto was the imperial capital between 794 and 1868, and remains the cultural centre of Japan.


This morning embark on an excursion to the Miho Museum, a private museum designed by internationally renowned architect I. M. Pei. Nestled amongst the Shigaraki mountains, the museum was founded by Mihoko Koyama, a wealthy textiles heiress, and features a rotating exhibition of its permanent collection of Asian and Western antiquities.

After lunch, continue to the Kawai Kanjiro Memorial Museum. This exceptional museum is housed in the home and studio of the late Kawai Kanjiro, one of Japan’s foremost ceramic artists and a prominent member of the mingei (folk art) movement.


Begin the morning by transferring to Isuien Garden, a traditional Japanese garden established in the Enpō Era by a wealthy merchant, and wander through the verdant tranquillity of these beautifully landscaped gardens.

Enjoy lunch at the Nara Hotel, the first Western hotel built in Japan in 1909, and continue to Gangō-ji Temple. Originally constructed in the 6th century, Gangō-ji is the oldest temple in Japan and makes up one of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.

This evening, enjoy a special farewell dinner with John and fellow tour members at a restaurant near Daitoku-ji Temple complex in Kyoto.


Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.

Make your way to Osaka airport (Kansai) for suggested Qantas / All Nippon Airways flights to Australia and New Zealand. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any additional nights’ accommodation, either before or after the tour.


Per person, twin-share

AUD 10,950

Single supplement*

AUD 1,750

Deposit per person (at time of booking)

AUD 1,000

*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.

Final payment due

24 July 2020

Tour code


Fitness level

Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.

Suggested airline

Qantas / All Nippon Airways
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.

Tour price includes

  • Accommodation in 3-star superior and 5-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
  • Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wines with dinners
  • Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
  • Transfer on arrival in Toyama on Thursday 24 September
  • Lectures and talks with your tour leader, John McBride
  • 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)
  • Airport/hotel transfer on departure in Kyoto
  • Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, room service, mini-bar, taxis, etc.)
  • Airport porterage
  • Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)

Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.


Your hotels
Kanazawa – Sainoniwa Hotel***+
Noto Peninsula – Suzu Beach Hotel***+
Kyoto – Hyatt Regency*****

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).