Destinations Explored

1

Tokyo

2

Naoshima

3

Kyoto

4

Kaga Onsen

5

Kanazawa

Immerse yourself in Japan’s artistic and cultural milieu over the course of two weeks. Experience Tokyo’s immersive exhibitions and architectural wonders, Kyoto’s newly renovated contemporary art museum, and the amazing art island of Naoshima, a remote destination in the Seto Inland Sea with some of the world’s best museums and outdoor installations. With more time, cut across to Japan’s western coast, where you’ll luxuriate at Beniya Mukayu, a ryokan (traditional inn) where heritage and modern design coexist. Then, continue an hour onward to Kanazawa, a seaside city known for its artisan past and present.

Key Highlights

Experience the immersive exhibits at teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum

Visit the art islands of Naoshima and Teshima

Learn the traditional technique of kintsugi, or pottery repair, in Kyoto

Relax in the hot springs at a traditional ryokan on Japan's western coast

Best Times to Visit

March - April

October - Early December

Sample Trip Itinerary

Day 1-4

Tokyo

Accommodation in Tokyo

Suggested options (actual bookings will vary based on pricing and availability)

See the famous Shibuya Crossing

Made famous by the 2003 movie "Lost in Translation," Shibuya Crossing is a must-visit for anyone traveling to the capital. Experience the pedestrian lights all turning green at the same time and cross the intersection amongst everyone else, taking in the organized chaos. 

Shibuya is one of Tokyo's trendiest neighborhoods, full of young Japanese creatives. The area has a dizzying array of quirky shops, restaurants, and bars.

Learn about Tokyo's aesthetics and architecture in Harajuku and Omotesando

Known for their street style and cutting-edge architecture, the neighborhoods of Harajuku and Omotesando represent the heart of modern aesthetics in Tokyo. They're also essential stops for any first timer in the city — a visit here is the perfect introduction to Tokyo, especially for anyone interested in the country's artistic side. You'll wander the streets with a local architect or design writer to see the area's best art and architecture, and to learn about the fundamentals of Japanese design and culture. 

Visit the 52nd Floor Mori Art Museum

A haven for art lovers, the Mori Art Museum was founded by real estate developer Minoru Mori and today exists as a contemporary art space in the Roppongi Hills. Mori Tower is committed to exhibiting a wide range of cutting-edge visual art, architecture, and design—and it exhibits some of the best modern Japanese and Asian art on the continent.

Furthermore, there's an extensive range of public programs, including symposia, lectures, artist talks, and community outreach—all designed to nurture the connection between art and life. 

Taste your way through the building blocks of Japanese cuisine at Tsukiji Outer Market

Since opening in 1935, Tsukiji Market has been a destination for locals (including Michelin-starred chefs!) and visitors looking for ultra-fresh seafood, produce, and kitchenware. Even though the wholesale fish market and early morning tuna auction moved to Toyosu Market in 2018, it's remained the best place to experience a traditional market atmosphere in Tokyo. A guide can help you make the most of your visit—you'll sample Tsukiji's famous sushi as well as stables of Japanese cuisine like tsukemono (pickles), ume (Japanese plums), tamagoyaki (rolled omelet), and miso soup broth.

Learn the Art of Honzome (Traditional Fabric Dyeing) at a 130-Year-Old Atelier

If you've ever admired the colorful pattern on a yukata (robe) or tenugui (hand towel), you've seen honzome, a traditional Japanese style of fabric dyeing. During this 2.5-hour workshop, you'll create your own design and print it on three meters of tenugui fabric alongside artisans at a century-old atelier. With the help of a translator, you'll not only be able to fully participate, but also learn the history behind this ancient art.

Stroll Asakusa and Senso-ji Temple with a local historian

Stroll Asakusa, the city's former geisha district, on a two-hour tour with a local historian. The highlights are Asakusa Shrine and Senso-ji Temple, but there's so much more to this long-standing neighborhood and the role it played in Tokyo's growth. 

Immerse yourself in the interactive exhibits at teamLab Borderless Digital Arts Museum

Upon opening in 2018, teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum quickly became one of the most exciting additions to Tokyo's art scene. With over 10,000 square meters of digital postmodern art, the museum is an amazing example of how light and color can create an immersive experience for visitors.

Day 5-6

Naoshima

Accommodation in Naoshima

Suggested options (actual bookings will vary based on pricing and availability)

Tour Naoshima's world-class art institutions with a former museum docent

See Yayoi Kusama's Yellow Pumpkin

Tour Teshima by E-Bike on a Full-Day Tour

Naoshima actually isn't the only "art island" in Japan — the Seto Inland Sea is home to the smaller and even more remote islands of Teshima, and Inujima. While many visitors on a one-night stay stick to Naoshima — there's so much to see in its three square miles! — an additional night will allow you to take a worthwhile day trip by ferry to Teshima. Just small enough to explore in a day but large enough that walking is not completely feasible, it's really best explored on two wheels. The main attraction is the Teshima Art Museum, as well as the other indoor and outdoor installations scattered across the island's tiny fishing villages. 

Day 7-10

Kyoto

Accommodation in Kyoto

Suggested options (actual bookings will vary based on pricing and availability)

Eat your way through Nishiki Market

Kyoto's Nishiki Market offers ample opportunities for sampling, as well as providing a peek into the fundamentals of Japanese cuisine and culture. Explore with one of the city's culinary experts as your guide, or wander through on your own — either way, come with a camera and an empty stomach!

Explore the Streets of the Gion District

Down by the Kamogawa river banks, you’ll find the Gion District: a fascinating mix of old and new Kyoto. One street is lit by teahouse lanterns, while tall buildings line the next. 

Gion is famous as one of Kyoto’s geisha districts, so keep an eye out for kimonos in the crowd while you make your way to one of the many restaurants and teahouses.

Visit Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kiyomizu-dera, and More with a Private Guide

While Kyoto isn't a huge city, especially compared to the metropolis of Tokyo, it is quite spread out. You'll take on Eastern Kyoto first, including iconic sites like Kiyomizu-dera temple, the famous red torii gate at Fushimi Inari Taisha, and the 1,001 bronze soldiers at Sanjusangendo Temple, all alongside a private guide. 

Explore the foothills of Arashiyama with a landscape designer

Tour the Golden Temple and Ryoan-ji's Rock Garden

Round out your visit in Kyoto with a walking tour in the northwest corner of the city — home to the Golden Temple as well as Ryoan-ji, one of the country's most famous zen rock ggardens. With a focus on garden and landscape design, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the aesthetics behind these sights. 

Learn the Symbolic Art of Kintsugi, or Repairing Pottery with Gold Dust

Kintsugi is the famous Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold dust. This technique encompasses the art of wabi-sabi, or finding beauty in imperfection. With a translator, you'll repair an antique piece of pottery in this 1.5 hour workshop.

Day 11

Kaga Onsen

Accommodation in Kaga Onsen

Suggested options (actual bookings will vary based on pricing and availability)

Enjoy the hot springs and traditional kaiseki dining at your ryokan

Day 12

Kanazawa

Accommodation in Kanazawa

Suggested options (actual bookings will vary based on pricing and availability)

View work by contemporary Japanese Artists at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

Explore the Higashi Chaya District

Day 13

Tokyo

Accommodation in Tokyo

Suggested options (actual bookings will vary based on pricing and availability)

Visit the Imperial Palace East Garden

The Imperial Palace East Gardens occupy the site of Edo Castle, the residence of the Tokugawa shogun from 1603 - 1867. While none of the buildings stand today, remains of the moat, walls, and guardhouses still do. The gardens come alive with seasonal flowers and foliage, with the high rises of Tokyo's business district as their back drop. 

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Japan: Arts & Culture

Tokyo, Naoshima, Kyoto, Kaga Onsen, Kanazawa

Prices start from $5632 per person.

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Testimonials

Journy helps thousands of travelers a year plan their dream trips to 75+ destinations around the world.

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Carol’s Family Trip to Japan

“The experience was out of this world! Anything that we requested or that we were interested in, Sarah was able to accommodate it for us.”

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Omar’s London & Paris Family Vacation with Kids

“We really enjoyed the mix of cultural, food and shopping experiences. Most of all, it was great to hit the ground with a plan for each day, but also improvise depending on how our kids were feeling.”

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Deborah & Lew’s 25th Wedding Anniversary in Italy

“Couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I had some specific ideas about what to see—what art, what part of the countryside, etc. Elena (our trip designer) was very patient with me as we worked out just the right itinerary.”

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Carol’s Family Trip to Japan

“The experience was out of this world! Anything that we requested or that we were interested in, Sarah was able to accommodate it for us.”

Testimonial Profile Image

Omar’s London & Paris Family Vacation with Kids

“We really enjoyed the mix of cultural, food and shopping experiences. Most of all, it was great to hit the ground with a plan for each day, but also improvise depending on how our kids were feeling.”

Testimonial Profile Image

Deborah & Lew’s 25th Wedding Anniversary in Italy

“Couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I had some specific ideas about what to see—what art, what part of the countryside, etc. Elena (our trip designer) was very patient with me as we worked out just the right itinerary.”

Testimonial Profile Image

Carol’s Family Trip to Japan

“The experience was out of this world! Anything that we requested or that we were interested in, Sarah was able to accommodate it for us.”

Testimonial Profile Image

Omar’s London & Paris Family Vacation with Kids

“We really enjoyed the mix of cultural, food and shopping experiences. Most of all, it was great to hit the ground with a plan for each day, but also improvise depending on how our kids were feeling.”

Testimonial Profile Image

Deborah & Lew’s 25th Wedding Anniversary in Italy

“Couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I had some specific ideas about what to see—what art, what part of the countryside, etc. Elena (our trip designer) was very patient with me as we worked out just the right itinerary.”