Discover the Artistry and Soul of a Japanese Garden Through Its Gardeners—Tea Ceremony and Vegetarian Refreshments—
There is a mansion on the grounds of Kyoto’s Higashi Hongan-ji Temple, and its garden, known as Shōsei-en Garden, is a historic Japanese-style garden that was created during the Edo period (1603–1867).
Situated opposite Kyoto Station, the garden sits on a vast plot of land, approximately 35,000 square meters large, has two ponds, one large and one small, and has a group of elegant mansions which contain a tea room and a drawing room. The landscape is rich and varied, with such seasonal flowers as maple trees and cherry blossoms. The garden has served as a guest house of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple, and many distinguished guests from Japan and abroad have come for the hospitality, including Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837–1913), who was the last shogun of the Edo shogunate, Emperor Meiji (1852–1912), and Nicholas II of Russia (1868–1918). This Buddhist temple garden was designated a national place of scenic beauty because it has retained the magnificent essence of the Edo period through its arrangement of garden stones; it is the imagination of literati come to life.
For this plan, visitors will experience the essence of traditional craftsmanship and the Japanese aesthetic found in the appreciation of nature and spirituality through a guided tour and pruning demonstration by the very people who tend to the garden every day: the gardeners. The garden has been graced with nature’s abundant blessings over the 370 years since its opening. It serves as a valuable green sanctuary in the heart of the city, a biological haven (refugium) for all living things. The head gardeners are currently leading a project entitled “Biodiverse Garden Cultivation and Management” to ensure the timeless preservation of this cherished environment. Examples and in-depth explanations of this project will also be on offer within this plan.
Finally, visitors will be able to transport themselves back to the refined elegance of the Edo period through the meticulous craftsmanship of a Japanese-style boat, expertly recreated for visitors to experience the boating lifestyle of that time. This, in addition to the hospitality epitomized by tea ceremony and accompanied by vegetarian refreshments in the exclusive tea room and drawing room, is sure to be a one-of-a-kind premium experience of a lifetime.
Promotion of Mino City, home to a World Heritage site, for visitors to Japan Creation and sale of high value-added products using Japanese paper produced by the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage "Washi: Japanese Handmade Paper Techniques"
Participants will have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the experience of washi paper, which has been refined under the clear Nagara River and is produced using the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage "Washi: Japanese Handmade Paper Techniques."
After observing the techniques of a handmade washi craftsman, participants will make washi paper themselves in a paper-making workshop and create washi lanterns using the washi paper they made.
Participants then bring the lanterns they have made to the Mino Washi Akari Exhibition, held every year from October to November. By enjoying the exhibition in this way, participants will have a hands-on experience of this traditional culture instead of simply admiring it from afar.
High value-added theatrical tour to make most of the evening: Iwami Tatamigaura, a designated National Natural Monument, and Iwami Kagura, a Japanese Heritage
Hamada, the town from which Iwami Kagura comes from, is located in the Iwami region of western Shimane Prefecture. The dynamic kagura dance performed by maiko in their ornately decorated costumes to the profound yet lively musical accompaniment fascinates all who see the Iwami Kagura performance.
The ornately decorated costumes, masks made from Japanese paper, and snake bodies used in the performance of "Orochi" are integral to Iwami Kagura, and all of them are created in Hamada City. Along with the dynamic dances they are used in, these items have had a great influence on the entire Chugoku region.
In this tour, participants will watch a ceremonial dance performed as part of a prayer to the gods at the designated National Natural Monument Iwami Tatamigaura, where night kagura dances are not usually performed. Iwami Tatamigaura, known as Shimane's Salar de Uyuni, reflects the setting sun over the Sea of Japan, inviting people into a magical world of water and light, where Shinto gods reside.
Participants will enjoy Hamada's gourmet food at Sanku Shrine (Omatsuri Ameno Iwatohiko Shrine), which enshrines Tajikarao-no-Mikoto. This god appears in the legend of Amano-Iwato, where kagura as a form of dance is said to have originated. While enjoying the food, participants will learn the essence of kagura from the dancers and hear their passionate thoughts as insiders of Iwami Kagura. This experience is sure to pique your intellectual curiosity.
The Shimane Aquarium Aquas, one of the leading aquariums in the Chugoku region, will hold a night kagura performance after the aquarium closes. The ornately decorated Iwami Kagura costumes will be displayed inside the aquarium, creating a one-night-only kagura theater.
The above content will be offered in a one-day tour package with an overnight stay option for a full day of kagura.
Iwami Kagura is a traditional performing art that continues to evolve while preserving its traditions, and we hope to see you at this event.
JAPAN FARM STAY: Ancient Japanese self-sufficient rural living based on the theme of interaction with locals in an off-grid, one-story house
The village of Ueyama in Mimasaka City, Okayama Prefecture, is a place where country challengers who are neither "outsiders" nor "country people" gather, and about 40 percent of its 150 residents are young newcomers. Here, young newcomers pass on and evolve the history and culture of Japanese farming villages as they learn about them from the elderly locals, who make up the remaining 60 percent of the local population. Residents always call out to each other when crossing paths, go to their neighbor's house to borrow soy sauce if they are running short, and take their neighbor's laundry inside when it rains. It is a beautiful village filled with warmth and care, and it shows the richness of the traditional Japanese way of life.
Experience this way of life through a tour that includes accommodation in an off-grid, one-story house away, which combines solar power and a rainwater filtration system. The tour also offers spectacular views of terraced rice fields recognized as "Tsunagu Tanada Heritage," a sea of clouds, as well as a clay wall smoked sauna experience and a bamboo craft workshop using Ueyama bamboo.
Intimate discovery of Benesse Art Site Naoshima: Enjoy the wide array of entertainment in the Seto Inland Sea for 2 days on Naoshima Island
A local guide will lead participants through the art facilities and provide support as they take the opportunity to explore and connect deeply with the history and philosophy of the activities of Benesse Art Site Naoshima. The tour offers first-class hospitality, including an introductory video created especially for this tour that summarizes the thoughts of the founders and architects, a helicopter and cruiser ride to see the beauty of the Seto Inland Sea archipelago from every angle, a stay in the Oval Suite at Benesse House, a special menu at the hotel's Terrace Restaurant, and a special charter of the Chichu Art Museum before the museum opens. Special menus in partnership with the island's eateries are also available for local dining options and socializing in the area.
After explaining the difference between Noh and Kyogen, the four traditional Japanese performances of Kyogen, Ozashiki Buyo, Yakyuken, and Jidaigeki Buyo are presented in an omnibus format (1 hour 45 minutes).
These performances are arranged to be enjoyed casually for people who do not have many opportunities to interact with traditional Japanese performance styles. After the event concludes, guests are allowed to take photos with the performers using their smartphones. The venue is the “Senju-den,” the Noh theater on the fourth floor of the Yamatoya Honten, located in the center of Dogo hot springs town. The stage is close to the audience, so you can feel the voices, gestures, and energy of the performers up close. Also, even though eating and drinking while viewing traditional Japanese performances is usually prohibited, beverages will be sold during the performances so that you can enjoy them with a drink in hand. Please check the reservation site for details.
Kushiro Wetland, the largest marshland in Japan and one of the world's great natural wonders, can be experienced through a tour that allows visitors to enjoy the marshland from multiple perspectives, including from the Ainu culture, which has strong roots in the region.
■ Experience the rare marriage of magnificent panoramic views and traditional culinary culture on an exclusively chartered train running through the Kushiro Wetland ■
・From the windows of a special chartered train that runs through the wetland, visitors experience the vastness of the marshland up close with panoramic views.
・A special lunch will be served on board the train, offering a glimpse of traditional Ainu culture through food.
■ Experience these marshlands and the wonders of nature from Takkobu Auto Camping Ground, located in a national park ■
・Private night canoeing experience on Lake Takkobu: Enjoy the extraordinary experience of being enveloped in the world of a full moon floating above the lake under a star-filled sky.
・An immersive, realistic experience in a marshland using drones: Enjoy pristine, unspoiled nature over the vast plains, including the meandering Kushiro River.
・The tour also offers a comprehensive Ainu cultural experience (cooking class under direct supervision of Ainu people, traditional dance performance, and hands-on experience with authentic Ainu musical instruments).
・Unique grand viewing experiences are ensured from the observatory points.
Akame Valley is home to many giant salamanders, the living fossils that are designated as a special natural monument, and is also a spot where the existence of a crossbreed with the Chinese salamander was confirmed. The giant salamander, the world's largest amphibian, is an endangered species that can only lives in parts of the Americas, China, and Japan, and is on the verge of extinction in mainland China. Observe the precious giant salamander in Akame Valley and have a first-hand experience of observing its nighttime behavior. Investigating the DNA of captured salamander and learning about biodiversity means it is also an extremely valuable experiential tour from an academic standpoint.
In Okawa, Fukuoka, Japan’s home of woodworking, visitors will dine at an Important Cultural Property and enjoy an exclusive hands-on Okawa kumiko joinery activity with master artisans
On this guided tour, visitors experience Okawa’s woodworking and culinary culture, which developed thanks to the Ariake Sea and Chikugo River.
While admiring the symbolic Chikugo River Lift Bridge, visitors can experience the natural beauty of the Ariake Sea and Chikugo River while learning the history of woodworking. Afterwards, visitors will explore the Kobo and Enokizu area, the birthplace of Okawa woodworking where the old townscape still remains. Participants will enjoy the profound delight of woodworking and kumiko joinery through making an authentic kumiko lampshade available exclusively for this tour and taught by a kumiko artisan.
At the end of the tour, enjoy a delicious dinner filled with foods from Okawa and the Ariake Sea coastal waters. The dinner will be held at a historic storehouse on the grounds of the former Yoshihara Family Residence, a National Important Cultural Property located in the Kobo and Enokizu area. Enjoy the taste of Okawa, where ingredients from sea, river, and land are all plentiful, in a fantastic space surrounded by folding screens of kumiko joinery and illuminated by lights.
Special opening of Important Cultural Asset “Shirayama Engi” and light art display of shrine grounds at Shirayamahime-jinja Shrine, the head shrine of the Shirayama Shrines ~Special night tour of Hakusan Faith~
A personal shuttle vehicle is prepared from Kanazawa station, the gateway to Ishikawa.
Visit Shirayamahime-jinja Shrine, the head shrine of the Shirayama Shrines and one of the most renowned power spots in Hokuriku.
As special entertainment, view a performance of a Shinto dance and take a special tour of the Important Cultural Asset “Shirayama Engi.”
Please experience the traditional culture of Hakusan Faith with a multilingual guide.
At night, the grounds are lit up in an artistic light display, transforming the area to create an ethereal atmosphere that cannot be experienced during the day.
For dinner, a special meal of local ingredients will be prepared, utilizing the rich nature of Shirayama.
Please experience the charm and power of the history, culture, and cuisine of Hakusan Faith.