Our family's trip to Japan was extremely well planned and well executed, on very short notice... Hats off to you!
Family from Minneapolis

A Culmination Of Colour: Discover The Art Highlights of Japan

This expedition will take you from the bustle of Tokyo with its dynamic contemporary and digital art scene to the historic Kanazawa for traditional textiles and handicrafts. It will introduce you to the alluring traditions of sculptures and pottery in Kyoto, and the “forgotten” works in the delightful port city of Osaka. It will then lead you onwards to the charming Kurashiki on the Takahashi river where influential works from famous artists the world over are displayed, as well as the unconventionally designed museums of quirky Naoshima, before ending in Hakone with its impressive collection of fine jewelry and French impressionist pieces against the backdrop of Mount Fuji.

  • Peruse the displays at the critically acclaimed Mori Museum and enjoy the view from the skydeck
  • Observe the process of creating gold leaf and a collection of artistic handicrafts collated by Komei Yasue (a famous gold leaf artisan)
  • Relax in the soothing warm waters of a traditional Japanese onsen
  • Stroll around the majestic Osaka Castle Park, one of Japan’s most famous landmarks
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1

Upon arrival in Tokyo, take the evening at your leisure. You can simply relax and rejuvenate to prepare for your adventure, or perhaps sample some of the wonderful culinary delights that the city has to offer. Try tasting some famous dishes such as fresh sushi, a steaming bowl of ramen (noodle soup), taiyaki (fish shaped waffles) or tonkatsu (breaded fried pork cutlets).

Day 2

Enjoy a day filled with visits to famous and world-class contemporary art exhibitions. Starting at the cutting edge Roppongi Art Triangle – which consists of the Mori Art Museum, The National Art Center, and the Suntory Museum Of Art – you’ll take in a beautiful panoramic view of the city from the Mori skydeck. Next, move onto the more avant-garde SCAI The Bathhouse Studio Tour (stopping to have lunch with the director) and the ‘21_21 Design Sight’ museum. This day has an optional opportunity for porcelain painting with an artisan.

Day 3

The morning will be spent at either The National Museum Of Modern Art, where exhibits range from the 20th century to present, or the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, which houses an exhibition dedicated to emerging artists. The afternoon offers the viewing of a private collection with expert accompaniment, and the exciting immersive digital works of TeamLab. In the evening, enjoy an optional exhibition such as the TeamLab Jungle - Art Night.

Day 4

From Tokyo, take the bullet train to Kanazawa. Here you can browse the 21st Century Museum Of Contemporary Art and pore over the beautiful textiles on display at the Kaga Yuzen Gallery, showcasing the traditional garment of Japan – the Kimono. Observe the process of creating gold-leaf (as well as an exhibition of items adorned with it) and a collection of artistic handicrafts collated by a famous gold-leaf artisan at the Yasue Gold-Leaf Museum, where you can take part in a workshop.

Day 5

Explore the perfectly landscaped Kenrokuen Gardens – voted one of Japan’s most beautiful gardens – before visiting the commemorative DT Suzuki Museum (in honor of a Buddhist philosopher), and the Kutani Pottery Kosen Kiln. A private transfer will whisk you to Kaga Onsen, where you can take the afternoon at leisure; exploring the gorge, onsen(hot spring/bathing facility), and more Kutani pottery studios.

Day 6

Hop on the bullet train once again for a two-and-a-half-hour journey to reach Osaka. In Osaka, you will spend the afternoon exploring an eclectic mix of galleries. The contemporary Tezukayama Gallery displays exciting work from current and emerging artists; the Shihoudou Gallery prides itself on showing “forgotten” works as well as “the art of masters and experts”; and the ARTCOURT Gallery describes itself as organizing “dynamic, convention-breaking” projects.

Day 7

Delve into the Miho Museum that houses Mihoko Koyama’s private collection of Asian and Western antiques. Stroll through the grounds of the Majestic Osaka Castle Park and be sure to take a peek at the golden tea ceremony room inside the castle. Discover the unique floating garden at the striking Umeda sky building and explore the “heart of Osaka” Dotonbori area of the city.

Day 8

After a two-hour-drive drive, you will arrive in the historic city of Kurashiki. The Ohara Museum, which was the first to house a permanent collection of Western art in Japan, will be the first stop. The private collection includes notable pieces by El Greco, Gauguin, Monet, Matisse and many more from varying periods and influences. The Hayashibara Museum Of Art showcases traditional Oriental works and artefacts. The Korakuen Garden (one of the three “great gardens of Japan”) will be a charming way to round-up the afternoon.

Day 9

Your private transfer will drive you to Uno Port, where you’ll take the ferry to Naoshima to experience a plethora of unique museums. Visit the interesting subterranean Chichu Art Museum, which exhibits permanent installations from artists Walter Di Maria, Claude Monet and James Turrell. Explore the intriguingly designed Ando Museum, which blends contrasts between textures, as well as with the old and the new. Immerse yourself in the interactive Art House Project and visit the Lee Ufan Museum for the critically acclaimed works of the namesake artist. In addition, experience the traditional Honmaru fishing village and the iconic Benesse House Museum.

Day 10

Explore the island of Teshima: from the unconventional design of the Teshima Art Museum – designed to look like a drop of water at the precise moment of landing – to the Yokoo house, which centers around the artist’s famous themes of life and death, to the 8 Million Lab that draws its inspiration from the myriad of gods in the Shinto religion (the ethnic religion of Japan) and the Inujima: Seirensho Art Museum, housed in a former copper refinery.

Day 12

Meet with pottery expert Robert Yellin at his gallery before visiting some well-established contemporary galleries, such as the Mori Yu and imura. For something a little different, take a trip to the Kyoto International Manga Museum and get a taste of modern Japanese culture or stroll through Teramachi Shopping Arcade whilst stopping at small galleries along the way. Explore the lively Nishiki Market, and then, for dinner, try your hand at making your own sushi combinations at Awomb.

Day 13

MOMAK (Museum Of Modern Art, Kyoto), your first port of call, has a variety of works on display ranging from traditional Japanese paintings to prints, ceramics and photography. For your fill of history, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Kiyomizu-dera temple and meander down the streets of the Higashiyama district. The last stop in Kyoto will be the Kaho Gallery before taking the bullet train for a two-hour journey to Odawara.

Day 14

Start the day at Japan’s first open-air museum, and then head to the Narukawa Art Museum with its stunning panorama lounge overlooking Lake Ashinoko. From there, enjoy the POLA museum of art, which houses some impressive French Impressionism pieces, before admiring the stunning jewelry and glass work at the Lalique Museum, and (weather permitting) relax with a walk along the scenic ropeway.

Day 15

Depending on which airport you are departing from, you can either take one last ride on the bullet train and change onto the NEX train to get to Narita International Airport, or, if you need to make your way to Haneda Airport, it is just over an hours drive.


Suggested Accommodations

Aman Tokyo, The Peninsula Tokyo

Aman Tokyo

Since its opening at the end of 2014, Aman Tokyo has been one of the most talked-about luxury hotels in the city. The most striking thing about it is its location; spread across the top six floors of a 40-storey tower in the Otemachi business district, the panoramic views are simply incredible. What’s more, all of the 84 rooms and suites take full advantage of the lofty position with floor-to-ceiling windows letting light in during the daytime, while also framing the breathtaking lit-up cityscape at night. Aman Tokyo has also received praise for its impressive interiors, which have been inspired by minimalistic design, including the use of camphor wood, washi paper and stone surfaces throughout the rooms as well as traditional Japanese facilities such as large ‘furo’ baths. Situated on the 33rd floor, both guests and non-guests can enjoy the fine Mediterranean food at the hotel’s signature restaurant, not forgetting more of those incredible views across Tokyo stretching as far as the Imperial Palace Gardens and Mount Fuji in the distance. Elsewhere, there is a spa, enclosed garden area, swimming pool, wine cellar, cigar lounge and a whole host of other facilities to keep guests entertained.


The Peninsula Tokyo

Mere steps from the Imperial Palace sits Tokyo’s newest luxury hotel, The Peninsula Tokyo. Located in Marunouchi district just a short walk from the shopping paradise of Ginza, the hotel is perfectly located for business or pleasure. With a total of 314 elegantly decorated rooms and 47 suites, the Peninsula Tokyo’s accommodations are among the most spacious in all of Tokyo, and offer plenty of amenities including espresso machines, complimentary Internet access, multifunction fax machines, nail polish drying machines, and shoe shining service. The hotel’s culinary options include Cantonese cuisine at the Hei Fung Terrace, regional Japanese fare at Kyoto Tsuruya, and International food and beverages at Cirque Culinaire and Peter. For relaxation, enjoy the hotel’s state of the art health club with pool complex, undergo a “spa journey” at the Peninsula Spa by ESPA, or try a leisurely jog around the Imperial Palace. Other amenities include a business center and a boutique store that offers food, gifts and souvenir items.



This modern hotel-style ryokan, located minutes from Wakura-Onsen Station in Nanao, Ishikawa, Japan, is housed in several large towers right on the edge of the water, featuring stunning views over Nanao-Nishi Bay and the city. Over 100 years since its establishment, Kagaya has played host to several of Japan’s emperors, enticing royals and travelers alike with its natural hot spring tubs, created from the hot spring that runs through the property. Guests may enjoy delicious meals at the hotel’s restaurant, dining on local noto seafood and local kaga vegetables while taking in a stunning sunset over the bay. All modern comforts available, this hotel feels like a step back in time, to an era of royalty, of chivalry, and of majestic lands. 

Ritz-Carlton, Osaka

Ritz-Carlton, Osaka

This luxury hotel is an oasis in the vibrant and bustling city that is Osaka. The Ritz-Carlton Osaka is a business hotel that aims to provide its guests with a soothing and serene atmosphere in the heart of Osaka�s business and shopping district. With nearly 300 rooms, including a selection of Executive Suites, Club rooms, and more, each providing stunning views of the city below, as well as exclusive amenities, the options for comfort are bountiful. Egyptian cotton linens, down comforters, designer tea, a bathroom flat screen TV, fully-stocked refreshment cabinets, and complimentary newspaper and overnight shoe-shine are just a few of the exceptional surprises that await guests at this top-end hotel. Furthermore, two of its fine dining restaurants, La Baie, and Xiang Tao, are recipients of Michelin stars.

Hotel Nikko Kurashiki , Ryokan Kurashiki

Hotel Nikko Kurashiki

The highest standard Western-style hotel in Kurashiki, Hotel Nikko warmly welcomes guests via its marble lobby, its simple and comfortable rooms, and its modern decor, a contrast to its location in Kurashiki’s old town. Guests may choose from 71 rooms, the best of which are found on the J floor (which we highly recommend). Free WiFi and air-conditioning come standard with every room. Meals are served at the hotel’s three restaurants: Ravenna Cafe, Hachikengura, and Kurashiki, while Heisabar bar serves up frothy Japanese beers  and tempting cocktails. Three different styles of meeting and banquet rooms are available for events, with the capacity to hold up to 120 people in one room. The airport is a 45-minute drive, while it’s possible to walk to the nearest JR Station in just over 10 minutes. 


Ryokan Kurashiki

This authentic ryokan is located in the heart of Kurashiki’s historical area, allowing for a true window into Japanese culture. The ryokan has been decorated to cater to traditional Japanese sensitivities, with tatami mat floors and clean, crisp lines, as well as elegant Japanese artwork adorning the walls. A charming Japanese garden greets guests as they enter the hotel. The entire abode has only six rooms, making it feel cozy and private. There is one restaurant, which serves up dishes in traditional kaiseki style, which may also be enjoyed in the hotel’s various private dining rooms. The hotel also has available banquet facilities for meetings and other such events. The airport is 45 minutes away, and the hotel is a 15-minute walk from JR Kurashiki station. 

Benesse House

Benesse House

Comprised of five elements - sculpture park and museum, hotel, boutique, restaurants and a spa - Benesse House is one of the most unique properties in Japan. Every room has its own individual design and artwork, with 65 guest rooms and suites across four buildings: Museum, Oval, Park and Beach, all designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando. In addition to housing the property's modern art museum, Museum has a lecture room that guest speakers are often invited to. Oval is set on a hill and connected to Museum by monorail; Park is where the bulk of Benesse House's facilities, such as its French restaurant, Terrace, its spa and shop are housed; and Beach is one of Ando's few buildings constructed chiefly of wood and is generally reserved for long-term guests. Inside Museum, there are two restaurants, Issen for Japanese and a separate cafe where guests and patrons can relax between viewings. The spa has a wide array of treatment options and is open from 11:00-22:00 with last appointments taken at 20:00.

Four Seasons Kyoto, Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

Four Seasons Kyoto

Inspired by the tranquility and contemplative calm of the region’s many temples and Zen gardens, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto features 110 standard rooms, 12 suites, 57 condos and a Presidential Suite, which at over 2,600 square feet, is the largest hotel suite in Kyoto. The restrained chic of designer Agnes Ng’s modern ideas, allied with traditional design elements such as bamboo groves and shoji paper-walls, create an extraordinary set of contemporary, yet classic, accommodations – with a peaceful vibe, enhanced and completed by the gentle crash of water from the Waterfall Garden. The hotel features two restaurants, bar, lounge and even a tea house where guests can find a range of tantalizing treats and refreshments to expedite their relaxation – set off to perfection by a team of expertly trained, confident and multilingual service staff.


Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

Just steps away from the popular streets of Gion, Kawaramachi and Pontocho, the hotel is the perfect gateway for seeing Kyoto’s fabulous sights. The large meeting facilities and services also make the hotel ideal for business. Respecting the ancient traditions and culture of Kyoto, the extravagant space is inspired from the natural surroundings and traditional architecture. Famous for Zen Temples, palaces and gardens, the Kyoto atmosphere is incorporated in the Ritz-Carlton’s design. Built in the style of a traditional Meiji House and courtyard, this is truly a cultural experience. A four-story waterfall is featured in the hotel entrance amidst patterned motifs. Guests are always guaranteed world-famous luxury at Ritz-Carlton, and Kyoto is no exception: guests enjoy high-thread count linens, plush Japanese “IMABARI” robes and towels, complimentary WiFi, Kyoto soap and seasonal bath salts, LED TVs and touch-panel environmental controls for automatic drape closure.  Accommodation amenities include a concierge service, swimming pool, banquet room, babysitting service, four delicious dining options and a spa for any pampering needs. 

Gora Kadan

Gora Kadan

Imagine life as a Japanese royal at this ryokan, which was once the country retreat of the royal family in National Park Hakone. Located 56 miles from Tokyo and 106 miles from Narita International Airport, the ryokan is best reached by train, as Gôra station is just a short distance away. At Gôra Kadan, the delicate whooshing of an opening or closing rice-paper door, fragrant flora and fauna and surrounding hot springs envelope guests in zen-like serenity. There are 23 Japanese-style rooms and 14 suites, and Kaiseki, or seasonal, cuisine is served daily in the restaurant or al fresco on the terrace or in the garden. Amenities include Internet access, an indoor swimming pool and a spa and beauty center, and nearby is a golf course. Gôra Kadan property is part of the luxury hotel and restaurant brand Relais & Chateaux.

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Our co-founder Jay Tindall finds Japan both a challenging and rewarding travel destination, which requires several visits to truly understand. It's also his favourite food destination in Asia.
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