Japanese temples and moss garden

Explore Japan: Land of Temples, Bullet Trains and Hot Springs.

Capital region of the Japanese empire for centuries, Kyoto and Nara have over 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites between them. This trip will plunge you deep inside the beauty of these remarkable human achievements. Think Kabuki looks crazy? Wait until you see it live! Dreamt of viewing a 12th century rock garden? Come along, and stop to marvel at the moss garden on the way!

  • Trip Info:

    Date: December 19, 2017 – January 1, 2018

    Price: $7800

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  • Specials:

    Register and pay in full by April 1, 2017 and save 5%!

  • cost Includes:

    • All but two meals, including a glass of wine at lunch and dinner
    • 13 nights hotel accommodations with private bathroom
    • Travel between arrival and the final breakfast
      • Transport to and from Kansai Airport is available for an additional fee
    • Entrance fees and event tickets
    • Cultural instruction
    • Five on-site lectures by art history Professor Varshavskaya
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The voyage starts with an in-depth visit to Kyoto and Nara as we explore dozens of the world’s most beautiful buildings, scores of intriguing and beguiling zen gardens, koy ponds and sushi bars, fish markets, trinket shops and two of the world’s most famous and accessible flea markets in the very heart of 2,000 years of historic imperial Japan. Stroll through Kyoto's enormous flea markets—one in Kitano Tenmangū Shrine and the other in Tō-ji Temple—both inside the walls of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and have fun trying on old kimonos and hunting one of Japan’s most famous and ineffable commodities, a ceramic tea cup with a perfect balance of order and chance. We will walk through the ancient wooden houses of Gion, where you are sure to see one of Kyoto's famous Maiko, a Geisha-in-training, and sit down for a steaming cup of green tea.

We will take a day trip to Nara, and see the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha, and walk through the orange gates at Fushimi-Inari. Once we have had our fill of Kyoto’s temples, we will head to Awaji-shima for the day to see Tadao Ando’s beautiful concrete Buddhist Water Temple, the world’s longest suspension bridge over the Inland Sea and view a performance of Awaji Ningyo Joruri which had its start here over 500 years ago. Other day trips include a visit to highest ranking of all Shinto shrines at Ise Jinga and the 1,000 year old kilns in Shigaraki.

Get Ready Get SET

Leaving Kyoto we will spend 2 nights in the warm luxury of a rural onsen village where you can soak for hours in local hot springs, eat a meal of 15 tiny and exquisite courses in your room, and walk around the village on wooden clogs and in a yukata robe offered by the ryokan lodging.

Get Ready Get SET

Get Ready Get SET

The trip ends with 2 nights high in the mountains of Wakayama Prefecture in the 1,200 year old vegetarian monastery village of Koya-san, where we will bring in the new year in classic Japanese style—celebrating with Buddhist monks as we listen to 108 gongs and drink hot thick sake. Don’t forget to set your alarm for 5AM so you don’t miss the fire ceremony with the monastery’s head abbot!

Get Ready Get SET

Special guest lecture, Elena Varshavskaya, PHD, joins this trip to give onsite lectures about important Japanese art and architecture, providing context and clarity to our day’s discoveries, both spontaneous and planned. Professor Varshavskaya has taught at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia and currently teaches Japanese and Buddhist art history at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Get Ready Get SET


Kyoto: TBD

Onsen Village (TBD)

Koyan-san: Ekoin (pictured)

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