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Top 10 Inspiration Experiences in Japan

Naoshima -Tadao Ando

Innovative aesthetics meld into a beautiful backdrop of natural ecology creating a wonderland. Explore the best of contemporary architecture designed by the iconic Tadao Ando. The Chichu Art Museum is built on a hillside and called the centre of the earth. Natural light illuminates the space making for an immersive environment. Claude Monet’s Water Lilies attract scores of art-lovers. Modern art and design are celebrated in outdoor sculptures by Yayoi Kusama, installations by James Turrell and works by Walter De Maria. Look out for fascinating pieces by Kan Yasuda, Teresita Fernandez, and Lee Ufan sprinkled around, and in the Benesse Museum and Hotel.

Featured Tours: Gardens and Galleries, Hidden Treasures

Yusuhara – Kengo Kuma

Rising above the clouds is the mountain town of Yusuhara. It is here that renowned architect Kengo Kuma has created six architectural wonders to complement the lush cedar forest and traditions of thatch and traditional carpentry. Kengo Kuma wrote “Wood – Materiality of Architecture” and uses local components with deference to the landscape. His Yusuhara Community Library was awarded the Japan Library Association Architecture Award in 2021. His most recent works include the Nezu Museum and Asakusa Culture Center in Tokyo. He has called for greater humility, and for architecture to strike a balance between form and material to improve surroundings.

“Sushi is a good metaphor for my architecture. The importance of sushi is to choose the best material from the place, in season.” Kengo Kuma

Featured Tours: Shikoku Secrets

Picasso Hakone Open Air Museum

After exploring the stunning scenery of Hakone,
admire the works of this world-famous artist. Lush verdant hills are a base for Picasso’s innovative art. In every direction a fascinating installation and intriguing exhibits. The Gallery is home to a range of artworks guaranteed to inspire, while the setting of the Open-Air Museum allows for relaxation. Outdoor sculptures and installation pieces pierce the landscape, allowing for a unique cultural experience.

Featured Tours: Japan Discovered, Traditional and Tropical, Trail by Rail, and any day trip to Hakone from Tokyo

Hakone open-air sculpture park

Adachi Art Museum & Garden

The Finest Garden in all of Japan

Find blissful beauty in the stylish aesthetic of the number one garden in Japan for 12 consecutive years by the Journal for Japanese Gardening. Complimenting the stunning natural scenery of rural Yasugi town in beautiful Shimane, discover six different types of Japanese gardens around the museum building. Exhibits of modern and contemporary art create an aesthetic paradise alongside the Dry Landscape Garden, Moss Garden, Tea House, White Gravel and Pine Garden, Pond Garden, and Kikaku Waterfall Garden. Adachi Art Museum houses exquisite collections by Japanese artists, with notable works on display created by Hayashi Yoshio and Kitaoji Rosanjin.

Featured Tours: Gardens and Galleries

Futuristic Japan

Japan is at the forefront of blending futuristic innovation with unique attractions. TeamLab’s Borderless Digital Art Museum, stands out as a mesmerizing example, immersing visitors in a digital art world where interactive light installations and virtual environments create a surreal experience. Another highlight is the much-anticipated Ghibli Park which promises to bring the fantastical realms of Studio Ghibli’s films to life through imaginative and innovative design. Additionally, Japan offers the Miraikan, Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, where interactive exhibits showcase advancements in robotics and space exploration. These attractions, among others, represent Japan’s unique ability to harmonize cutting-edge technology with creative expression, offering visitors a glimpse into a world where the future is now.

Featured Tours: Optional on all visits to Tokyo

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

A stimulating and refreshing approach to displaying art, this museum is fresh, clean, and full of surprises. Programmes reflect and connect the past with the future, nourishing regional traditional arts and reflecting the innovation of new generations. Large-scale works on permanent display are Leandro Ehrlich’s Swimming Pool and Color Activity House by Olaflur Eliasson. Collections include Anne Wilson, Suda Yoshihiro, Matthew Barney, James Turrell, Atsuko Tanaka and many more.

Featured Tours: Japan Discovered, Traditional and Tropical,

kanazawa museum of contemporary art

Samurai Castles

Samurai Castles make for a picture-perfect scene when flowers are in bloom, ideal to pose in costumes. National Treasures, there are only twelve authentic castles remaining. Matsumoto Castle is known as the ‘Crow Castle’, due to the black exterior built in the late 16th century. The fortress consists of a series of moats, a complex system of walls, and gatehouses. Pristine Himeji Castle was established in 1346, now known as the White Heron, the keep rises from the peak of Mount Hime at 32 metres high. Climb the original steps of Kochi Castle to the top for views of Seto Inland Sea.

Featured Tours: Wonders of the West, Shikoku Secrets, Gardens and Galleries, Hidden Treasures, Ancient Trails, Japan Discovered, Traditional and Tropical, Tohoku Trails

HImeji Castle, Japan

Ainu Cultural Show in Hokkaido

The Ainu Kotan, or settlement at Lake Akan is inhabited by about 120 people. See an authentic performance featuring traditional dress, language, and sacred epic dances. Meet the local Ainu people and observe master crafts of intricate wood carvings of bears and birds, produced, and sold on site. The Ainu dances, renowned ‘yukar’ oral sagas, are Hokkaido’s only designated important intangible Cultural Heritage of Japan. Ainu finds that by using Inau, a ritual wooden tool that represents the Kamuy Gods, they can express truth in song, dance and prayers, and go beyond barriers that hamper people from conveying their true feelings.

Featured Tours: Journey to the East, Hokkaido Blooms

Kimono Production Outlet for Tsumugi Textiles in Amami Oshima

Observe the many steps to weave and dye Oshima Tsumugi, a textile of sombre colours, perfectly suited to the local climate. The detailed process of hand-spun silk can take three months to make, and the raw materials used for dyeing are extracted from a plant called tecchigi native to the Amami area. It is counted among the world’s three most famous silk textiles. The elegant and distinctive appearance has made it one of the best Kimono textiles in Japan. The fabric is lightweight yet warm, not easily wrinkled or worn and endures even after generations inherit the Kimono.

Featured Tours: Traditional and Tropical

Koyasan Temple Stay – Meditation with Monks

Meditate at Koyasan, rise early to navigate through wooden beams, red carpet, and lanterns to reach an inner circle of bell chimes and synchronized voices, transformed into a constant hum of scripture and rhyme. Pray for peace in our one world and become a part of this spiritual community as you chant with the monks. Take time for inner reflection and the quest for universal wisdom through meditation in the perfect setting. Meditate in front of a scroll showing the letter “अ” (pronounced as the “a” in “apple”) the origin of all things, to know the world is one.

Featured Tours: Hidden Treasures