West Japan & The Inland Sea: Art & Pilgrimage
1 Nov — 14 Nov 2020 | Tour Director: Richard Farmer
• Visit the UNESCO-designated Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajama Island, admiring its floating gate and the hundreds of wild deer that roam the area
• Journey to the tiny Chikubishima Island in the middle of Japan’s largest freshwater lake, one of the three main sites in Japan where Benzaiten, goddess of knowledge, is worshipped
• Cross the Inland Sea to Naoshima, the internationally famous ‘art island’
Richard Farmer, BA, has lived in Japan for the last ten years, where he works leading tours full-time
Depart London Heathrow 1230 on British Airways.
Arrive Kansai International 0940 and transfer by coach to Kyoto for three nights. Free time followed by introductory lecture: Kyoto – The Heartland of Japanese Culture.
Morning: Myoshin-ji Temple (Taizo-in subtemple with 20th century pond garden) and Horin-ji (Daruma-dera). Afternoon: Nijo-jo (UNESCO World Heritage site and palatial Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa shoguns during the Edo period).
Excursion by coach and boat to Chikubushima on Lake Biwa. Continue to Otsu city via Umikidi ‘floating’ temple hall at Mangetsu-ji (time permitting). Afternoon: Mii-dera (head temple of the Jimon sect of Tendai Buddhism) and Otsu-e no Mise (the only shop still producing Otsu-e, a simple style of Edo period folk art featuring comical demons). Evening lecture: Japanese Buddhist Art – From A to Zen followed by free evening.
By bullet train to Fukuyama and coach to Shinsho-ji (temple buildings and art museum – visit subject to confirmation). Afternoon: continue by coach to Hiroshima for two nights. Evening visit to Okonomi-mura to taste Hiroshima’s most famous dish, Okonomivaki.
Morning excursion by train and ferry to Miyajima (sacred island off the coast of Hiroshima) for visits to Itsukushima Shrine and Daisho-in Temple and some free time. Afternoon: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Peace Memorial Museum. Free evening.
By coach and superjet ferry to Matsuyama for Dogo Onsen (opportunity to experience one of the oldest hot springs in Japan housed in a Meiji Period building – please note there are some restoration works ongoing but baths will still be accessible). Afternoon: Matsuyama Castle (one of only 12 castles in Japan remaining from the Edo period). Evening lecture: Going Around – The History & Practice of Pilgrimage in Japan. Overnight in Matsuyama.
Morning: Zentsu-ji (one of the most important temples on the Shikoku 88-temple pilgrimage route). Continue to Kotohira (pilgrimage town) for afternoon visit to Kanamaruza (backstage tour of the kabuki theatre) followed by optional ascent of Konpira-san (785 steps to the Kotohira-gu shrine complex enshrining the Shinto god of seafaring – a fascinating example of the pre-modern combinatory practice of Shinto and Buddhism). Continue to Takamatsu for three nights.
Visits in Takamatsu: Ritsurin-koen (famous historical strolling gardens with tea-houses in the grounds), Yashima (site of a famous battle between the Minamoto and Taira clans in the 12th century), Yashima-ji (one of the 88 Shikoku pilgrimage temples). Afternoon: Shikoku-Mura (open air museum with traditional buildings).
Whole day excursion by coach and ferry to Naoshima for visits to Benesse House Museum (contemporary art) and Chichu Museum (Monet, Walter De Maria and James Turrell) and Art House Project properties (contemporary art installations – time permitting). Free evening.
Kurashiki: ‘Bikan’ historical quarter, Ohara Museum (Japan’s first museum of Western art featuring works by Picasso, Gauguin, Rodin and Kandinsky) and some free time. Afternoon: Korakuen (regarded as one of Japan’s three best landscape gardens). Two nights in Okayama.
Excursion by train to Imbe (Bizen Pottery Museum and visit to kiln), Amatsu Shrine.
Morning: Himeji Castle (widely regarded as the finest castle in Japan, said to resemble a white egret in flight) with opportunity to visit the adjacent Koko-en (nine small interconnected gardens of different styles, built in the late 20th century). Afternoon: Koji Kinutani Tenku Art Museum (opened in 2016, showcasing mix of Western and Japanese influences on contemporary Kansai region artist Kinutani Koji). Overnight in Osaka.
Transfer to Kansai International for 1110 departure, arriving Heathrow 1450.
1 Nov — 14 Nov 2020
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Please note this tour will require a good level of fitness, as it includes a substantial amount of walking. A number of sites in our itinerary involve navigating series of steps as the only means of access, however these will be climbed at a relaxed pace. We will travel by private coach and public transport, including bullet trains and ferries. Please note that the keep of Matsuyama Castle is accessed via a ski-style chairlift.
Cost of £5795 includes: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, breakfast, nine lunches, nine dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities.
Not included: travel insurance, single room supplement £745.