Special Interest Tours to Japan

Keyrings in Japan, Arena Travel

Our latest tours round up highlights special interest tours to show that Japan truly does have something to offer everyone - no matter how niche your hobby or interest!

Whatever it is that floats your boat, Japan has a tour for you - whether it’s photography, gardens, caravanning, walking, textiles, art and crafts, or architecture and design. Don’t believe us? Take a look at our round up of some fantastic special interest tours to Japan below for further proof - were it needed! 

PHOTOGRAPHY - Portraits of Japan - 11 nights, from £6,000pp

Kiyomizudera Temple, Kyoto, Arena Travel

Capture exclusive encounters with memorable individuals from geisha and Zen monks to fishermen and kimono models on this 11-night group tour with Inside Japan Tours. Point your camera at landscapes, people and still lifes on a photographic treasure hunt around western Japan, led by esteemed international photojournalist Everett Kennedy Brown and accompanied by Ms. Junko Okimoto, kimono collector and expert on Japanese culture. 

Bookended by stops in Kyoto and Osaka, you’ll explore rural communities and fishing villages, as well as the city of Hiroshima and nearby sacred Miyajima Island. Highlights of the tour include an exclusive access photoshoot with a tenth generation kimono designer and obi maker, the opportunity to photograph real life geisha in private temple spaces and kagura (traditional theatre) dancers changing into costume and performing on the beach at sunset.

Other photo opps on the tour include chances to snap local people as they go about their daily lives and activities, such as meditating monks, hard-at-work bakers, and kimono-clad fan dancers in Joge village, a private shakuhachi flute concert and a Shinto shrine ceremony in tiny Mihonoseki village, master washi (Japanese paper) makers, and street scenes in Osaka.

The tour is priced from £6,000 per person, excluding international flights. The next departure is scheduled for 21st October - 1st November 2018 (max. group size 12 people). All tours can also be customized as private services. To find out more about the tour details, book, or get in touch with Inside Japan Tours, visit the dedicated tour website www.getthepicture.tours/photography-tours/portraits-of-japan or phone 0117 370 9751.

GARDENS - Seasonal Gardens of Japan in Association with the RHS - 13 days, from £4,995pp

Autumn Foliage, Arena Travel

Surround yourself with the splendours of the Far East on this tour with an action-packed itinerary of rare gardens, bamboo forests, ancient temples, golden Buddhas and of course the majestic Mount Fuji on this autumnal seasonal gardens tour by Brightwater Holidays in association with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

The origin of the Japanese garden lies in simple, gravel-covered forest clearings created to provide the gods with space to manifest. Over the centuries it has evolved into an idealised reflection of the natural landscape, typified by careful use of stone, water, trees, plants and moss. Natural galleries, Japanese gardens are places of exquisite beauty - and with their carefully crafted atmosphere of calm and contemplation they are the perfect environment for a holiday. Seeing the gardens on the tour decked out in their stunning autumn foliage will add yet another level of beauty and appreciation to your holiday in Japan.

The tour spends three full days exploring both public and private gardens in and around the former Imperial capital of Kyoto. Kinkaku-ji Temple, with its three-tiered Golden Pavilion, is a particular tour highlight. It also visits Otsu and Lake Biwako to the east of Kyoto, Nara, Kamakura, Hakone and Mt. Fuji, and Tokyo, with an optional extra excursion to Hiroshima.

To find out more about the tour, book, or contact Brightwater, visit the tour page on their website, email [email protected] or phone 01334 897429.

CARAVANNING - Land of the Rising Sun Caravan Tour - 21 days from £4,365

Golden Pavilion, Kyoto, Arena Travel 
Engage with friendly locals and experience Japanese customs, stunning views, delicious food and authentic culture on this unforgettable tour from Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays.

Join tour escorts Nelson and Barbara on an unforgettable three-week tour of Japan by caravan. Beginning in Tokyo, you'll take in the sights on a guided city tour before collecting your vehicle and embarking on your exploration of sites further afield, from the UNESCO-listed Toshu-gu Shrine in Nikko to driving against the backdrop of stunning Mount Fuji.

Starting and ending in Tokyo, the tour heads north-west from the capital, passing through Nikko, the Japanese Alps, Kyoto, and Hiroshima before looping back to Tokyo via Nara, Shizuoka and the Fuji Five Lakes area. Included are guided tours of Tokyo and Kyoto, multiple castle visits - and you’ll even get to swap your caravan for a bullet train as you travel to Hiroshima for a guided tour of the Peace Park there.

Total driving distance is approx. 950 miles, with some very long drives, often on challenging roads, and a number of activities that require some walking and/or physical exertion. Upcoming tour dates are 21 Oct - 10 Nov 2018 and 30 May - 19 June 2019. To find out more or make an enquiry about the tour, visit Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays' website.

WALKING - Ancient Trails of Japan (Group Tour) - 14 days, from £5,099pp

Asakusa, Tokyo, Arena Travel
Explore the ancient trails of Japan, trekking along winding gravelled paths through secluded and peaceful forests of towering cedars and bristling conifers, on this two-week tour from walking holiday specialists, Walks Worldwide

Your journey begins in the buzzing metropolis of Tokyo, before you transfer to the remote mountainous areas that dominate the spine of Japan. Here, you’ll traverse the sacred Togakushi Mountains, explore the history and picture-perfect scenery of Kamikochi, and hike the ancient Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route - the only other UNESCO-listed pilgrimage route in the world after the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Your journey ends in Kyoto, a fitting conclusion to your trip across this majestic nation.

The tour's Sat 13 Oct 18-Fri 26 Oct 18 departure is fully booked, however three other dates are still available as follows: Sat 20 Oct 18-Fri 02 Nov 18 (£3,999 without flights / £5,149 with flights ), Sat 18 May 19-Fri 31 May 19 (£4,199 with flights / £5,099 with flights), and Sat 05 Oct 19-Fri 18 Oct 19 (£4,199 without flights / £5,099 with flights).
To find out more about the tour, ask a question or make a booking, visit Walks Worldwide’s website.

ART & CRAFT - Art in Japan - Art, Craft, Architecture & Design - £6,080

Sannenzaka Kyoto, Arena Travel 
Japan has one of the richest and most continuously active art traditions in Asia, and is home to some of the earliest known ceramics as well as the world’s oldest standing wooden building - yet Japanese contemporary art also ranks among the best in the world. Between these chronological poles is a wealth of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, some impressive military architecture, and a profusion of national, regional and private collections. 

This tour by Martin Randall Travel exposes participants to the art and crafts of Japan across the ages, sampling excellent works from many periods, genres and styles. The tour takes in the 'fine arts’ of painting and sculpture, but also ceramics, textiles and metalwork - crafts having been traditionally held in high esteem in Japan. It covers both ‘high’ art and ‘low’ art, from Imperial and shogunal pieces to work enjoyed by common folk, such as the fabled ‘art of the floating world’.

Modern Tokyo is as much a part of the experience as the ancient capital of Kyoto, as is the yet more ancient city of Nara and the celebrated art colony of Naoshima. And while UNESCO World Heritage sites feature on the tour, so too do lesser-known sites such as ceramic studios and mausolea, as well as other aspects of Japanese culture, past and present, from gastronomy to gardens. In short, the tour covers all aspects of art and craft in Japan that could be of interest to arts and crafts lovers.

Tour highlights include visits to many of the finest collections of Japanese art, both in museums and in situ in temples and shrines; outstanding museum buildings by Tadao Ando and other leading architects; UNESCO World Heritage sites at Nikko, Kyoto, and Nara, and the art island of Naoshima. The next departure is scheduled for 15 - 26 Oct 2018. To find out more or make a booking, visit Martin Randall’s website or phone 020 8742 3355.

TEXTILES - Textiles of Japan & The Festival of Quilts - 14 nights, from £4,995

Tea Ceremony, Arena Travel 
Japan has a long history of textile excellence, making this tour with Arena Travel the trip of a lifetime for quilters, patchwork and embroidery aficionados alike. As you visit Tokyo, Takayama, Kyoto and Fukuoka, you'll explore cultural sights, meet local craftspeople and take in the very best that Japan has to offer in terms of textiles. Along the way you'll travel in the comfort of Japan's famed bullet train and soak up the country's physical beauty in the shadow of iconic Mount Fuji. 

The tour culminates with a two-day visit to Japan's Great Festival of Quilts, where you'll be astonished at the finesse and intricacy demonstrated by the work of some of Japan's finest quilters. The largest show of its kind in Japan, this is one of the most prestigious events in the global quilting calendar, attracting some 2.8 million visitors each year.

This is where you'll find 'all things quilting' under one roof, and you’ll be able to browse an astonishing array of contemporary, traditional and miniature quilts featuring unique stitching, colour and style, including masterpieces from some of Japan's top textile artists, as well as shop at row upon row of booths offering wares from merchants from across the country.

Along with two fantastic days at the quilt festival you’ll also enjoy visits to fabric and textile-related museums, shops and studios, participate in talks and workshops in a master indigo dyer's atelier and a quilt teacher's home, and try your hand at a variety of activities, from a Roketsu dyeing experience in Uji to making a traditional Sarubobo doll in Takayama.

The next departure is scheduled for 14 Jan 2019 - 28 Jan 2019 (duration: 14 nights) and is accompanied by Mandy Shaw. You can secure your place on the tour with Arena Travel with a deposit of just £450! For details, prices and to make a booking, visit Arena Travel’s website or phone 01473 660800.

RELIGION - Shinto Discovery Package with The Capitol Hotel Tokyu 

Hie Shrine Experience The Capitol Hotel Tokyu

Get beneath the skin of Japan with this new experience package offered by The Capitol Hotel Tokyu, Tokyo, which offers guests the exclusive opportunity to experience a close-up encounter with Shinto, Japan’s indigenous religion, getting to know and understand its ancient rites and rituals first-hand.
Located directly next door to Hie Shrine – one of Japan’s most important Shinto sites with over 500 years of history – The Capitol Hotel Tokyu is perfectly placed to offer this exclusive experience, during which guests will enter the typically off-limits shrine building and experience the atmospheric rituals of a Shinto ceremony - from purification, meditation and prayer through to traditional sword dances to entertain the deities.
Often mystifying to visitors, Japan’s unique religion of Shinto sees deities in all natural things, and its style of worship is deeply ingrained into everyday life in Japan. Its bright orange shrines -  centres of Shinto worship – are dotted all over the country and are highly popular with overseas tourists. Understanding some of the meaningful traditions and origins of this religion is a stepping stone to comprehending some of the beliefs that make up the bedrock of Japanese society and its customs.

Deluxe King Room, The Capitol Hotel Tokyu
The Capitol Hotel Tokyu’s Shinto Discovery package provides a unique opportunity to get behind the scenes and experience the majesty of the popular Hie Shrine from within. Participating guests will enjoy a kitou (traditional prayer) ceremony, in which the Shinto priest performs a ritual purification, guides guests into a still and meditative state, and then offers their prayers and wishes to the deities, along with a summons for divine protection. In Japan, such ceremonies are typically performed at the behest of worshippers who are undergoing key life events – from marriage and childbirth or to founding a new business venture.
Alongside the prayer ceremony, guests are also invited to witness the entrancing sword dance of the ‘shrine maidens’ - women who typically assist Shinto priests with their divine work. The maidens’ ethereal performance is believed to offer entertainment to the gods, in return for patiently listening to the prayers and wishes delivered by the Shinto priests.

The Shinto Discovery package is available to guests of The Capitol Hotel Tokyu all year-round, with guests of any religion welcome to participate. Advance reservations are required. The cost of the experience per group (up to nine people) is 120,000 yen (approximately £825).

For bookings or enquiries about this package, please contact: [email protected]

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