November 1-20, 2023 ( Fully booked, Register in the $1000 section to the right now for 2024, November 6 - 25)

The amazing history and culture of JAPAN

2024 Dates announced! November 6 -25. This exciting tour of Japan is full for 2023. Please contact me if you wish to make a deposit for 2024, or you can make a $1000 USD deposit for 2024 on my PayPal link in the BOOK NOW section of the website. Please use the 2023 PayPal link for the moment.

 Explore the magic of this rich and diverse culture in the colourful autumn season.
Enjoy its amazing gardens, temples, potteries, ancient kiln sites, cuisine, fabrics and architecture. Appreciate Japanese flower arranging, tea ceremony, indigo dyeing, paper making, laquerware, and woodworking. Travel with an on-board ceramic artist and tour leader and a Japanese escort. Savour out of the way places and the electric energy of the city life.

Excursion Highlights
Package Includes
Cancellation Policy
Payment Information 

Excursion Highlights

We are spending 19 nights in Japan, 7 of which are in the rich jewel of Kyoto.

Our tour includes a wide variety of temples and gardens, some famous such as the Kenroku-en Garden in Kanazawa (one of Japan’s “great three” gardens), and some less known ones such as the Shisen-do temple and garden in the Kyoto region.

Zen Garden in the Daitoku-ji Temple Complex, Kyoto

Arrangements are underway for visits to a traditional Washi paper making workshop, an Indigo fabric artist studio and museum, and an artist casting ancient style iron tea kettles.


Garden in Kurashiki

I have made arrangements with several potters and possibly a “National Treasure” artist for studio, kiln and showroom visitations.

This excursion has a healthy, although certainly not exclusive ceramics focus. It is suitable for anyone interested in the art, culture, people and history of Japan. Ceramics play an important role in Japanese culture in the serving of both food and tea.


Teahouse in the Kenroku-en Garden, Kanazawa

There is a rich interwoven tradition involving the Japanese tea ceremony (Way of Tea), Zen Buddhism, the use of handcrafted ceramic tea bowls, a particular type of flower arranging (Chabana), calligraphy in the form of hanging scrolls, tatami mats and the use of lacquer ware trays for serving food. The setting of the teahouse within the Japanese garden is also an important part of this tradition.

Look forward to experiencing tea in such a setting.


Marumatagama – multi chambered climbing wood kiln in Shigaraki

There are several important pottery kiln sites on our agenda including Mashiko, Bizen and Shigaraki. We will also visit traditional and contemporary artist studios in Kaga and the black pottery of Suzu.

In the Kyoto area, our group will visit many museums including the Raku Museum, Oribe ware museum, Miho museum and the Kawai Kanjiro house, studio and kiln museum. We will also visit the Yakimono Gallery which houses a wide selection of Japanese pottery from all regions.

In Kurashiki, we will visit the Ohara museum. This museum contains important collections of Japanese painting,woodcuts of Munakata Shikoand dyeings of Serisawa Keisuke. Here, we will explore the great collection of the potters and artists of the Mingei tradition, including members of Yanagi’s core group Shoji Hamada, Kanjiro Kawai, Kenkichi Tomimoto and Bernard Leach. 

 Mingei is a term coined by Yanagi Soetsu in 1926, and it refers to the Japanese folk-art movement, where beauty was appreciated in everyday and utilitarian objects created by nameless and unknown craftsmen. Yanagi’s influential book, ”The Unknown Craftsman”, examines the Japanese way of viewing and appreciating art and beauty in everyday crafts, including ceramics, lacquer, textiles and woodwork.

Our studio visitations provide an ideal vehicle for a deeper connection with Japanese people, as one can ask questions through our interpreter and observe and photograph their everyday life. 

I have set the time of the year and the route sequence so as to best experience nature’s extraordinary display of autumn leaves. 


We have a very special access to a region of Japan that is less visited by tourists. This is possible due to the personal connections made through the sister city relationship that my home, Salt Spring Island, has with the small town of Yamanaka. Yamanaka has one of the three leading hot springs in Japan. We will be welcomed by locals and taken to woodturning, lacquer ware, fabric and ceramics studios.

Our accommodation in Yamanaka is nestled over the scenic Kakusen Gorge next to two important bridges. The lovely autumn foliage of the gorge can be viewed from the KĊrogi Bridge (Cricket Bridge), built completely of cypress wood, and from the Ayatori Bridge, famous for its avant-garde form, designed by Teshigahara Hiroshi. The famous natural hot spring supplies mineral water for the Onsen bath in our accommodation, available for your soaking pleasure. This is a very special opportunity.


Tranquil stream below our accommodation in Yamanaka Onsen

We will travel in a small group with Rumiko, our Japanese woman guide, interpreter and escort, and with myself as the ceramic artist and tour leader.

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Japan 2023 tentative itinerary including main activities:

Day 1. November 1, 2023 Individual arrivals to hotel in Asakusa district in Tokyo. Orientation meeting and dinner.

Day 2. Tokyo tour including Senso-ji temple, Kappabashi food and kitchen ware district, Yanaka Street (historical district), Meiji Shrine, optional Ueno Park or National Museum visit.

Day 3.  Visit to the pottery town of Mashiko. Day trip by private coach with local guide, Hamada studio, kiln and museum, studio visits.

Day 4. Bullet train to Kanazawa, orientation with our local guide, Higashi Geisha area historical district, dinner.

Day 5. Kanazawa Sightseeing. Arts and crafts studios, including the Miyazaki family (14th generation) tea kettle casting foundry.

Day 6. Kanazawa. Famous Kenroku-en Garden and castle, 21st Century Museum, free afternoon.

Day 7. Kanazawa to Yamanaka via the Noto peninsula, using private coach and local guides. Visitations to washi paper making artist, Suzu black pottery and museum, Wajima, and Shiroyone hilltop rice terraces. Dinner included at our hotel. Optional soak in the Onsen.

Day 8. Day trip to nearby Kaga. Ichizo Yamashita pottery studio, Hisaichi Nakamura wood fired pottery studio and kiln, lunch at café and art showroom Kanomisaki, Kutaniyaki Museum, Kutani ancient kiln, dinner at our Yamanaka hotel with special menu included.

Day 9. Yamanaka. Studio visits to famous wood turner, Takehito Nakajima and world class lacquer ware master Mushu Yamazaki, free afternoon, gorge and river walks from hotel.

Day 10. Travel by train to Kurashiki. Orientation, canal walk, dinner.

Day 11. Kurashiki Exploration. Ohara Museum, bamboo gardens, historical canal area, Hashimaya café and gallery for lunch, forest and Shinto temple visit.

Day 12. Day trip to ancient pottery town of Bizen with local guide, visit to National Treasure potter, kilns and showroom (to be confirmed); lunch served on Bizen ware plates, Co-op Bizen showroom, Overnight at hotel in Okayama.

Day 13. Okayama. Visit Koraku-en, one of Japan’s “famous three” gardens. Train to Kyoto.

Day 14. Kyoto. Guided visits to Ginkaku-ji temple (Silver Pavilion), Robert Yellin Yakimono Ceramics Gallery and talk, Philosophers walk, Chion-in temple, optional evening garden light up.

Day 15. Kyoto. Kiyomizu-dera temple and garden, Higashiyama pottery district, Kawai Kanjiro memorial museum, house, studio and kiln, Kyoto National Museum or Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa (to be determined).

Day 16. Visit to ancient pottery town of Shigaraki. Day trip by private coach using local guide; Soto-en Kiln, ancient largest functioning Nobori Gama climbing wood kiln in Japan; Marumatagama visit, Museum of Shigaraki pottery, café inside old kiln, Uzan Sito studio, Visit to Miho Museum in Koka.

Day 17. Kyoto North. Private guided tour. Daisen-in Zen garden and the Daitoku-ji temple complex, Ryoan-ji Temple and rock garden, Raku Ware Museum.

Day 18. Miyama day trip with private coach and local guides. The Little Indigo Museum (shindo-shindigo), traditional Gassho-zukuri thatch roof houses, lunch with locals in 4 private houses.

Day 19. Day to be determined based on the timing during our Kyoto stay, free time in afternoon.

Day 20.( November 20, 2023) Breakfast. Tour ends.

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Tentative Timetable
The excursion starts in Tokyo at 7 pm on the evening of November 2, 2022 in the lobby of our hotel, and ends in Kyoto at our hotel after breakfast on November 21, 2022.

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Package Includes

  1. 19 nights accommodation double or twin occupancy. Several of which include access to Onsens (traditional Japanese hot spring baths).
  2. 19 breakfasts.
  3. 2 or 3 dinners (to be determined).
  4. Two special lunches, one in a family home in Miyama (a small town near Kyoto).
  5. Transportation throughout the tour in private bus or train.
  6. City and site transportation using metro, taxi, or private coach.
  7.  Entrance fees to museums, gardens and temples.
  8. Guided visits to several sites, studios, museums, gardens and temples.
  9. Japanese escort and interpreter for the entire trip.
  10. On board professional ceramic artist and tour leader.
  11. Luggage transfer for train rides between cities.

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Cancellation Policy

If you must cancel, the following cancellation fees will apply:


      Applicable Dates

        Cancellation Fees


1.    Before Mar. 15, 2022

2.    • May 15-Oct. 15/2022

3.    • Oct. 16/22-June 15/2023

4.    • June 16-Sept. 15/2023

5.    • Sept. 16-Nov. 1/2023


1.     Deposit of $1000 if not COVID based

2.    •   Deposit plus 30% of the invoice total

3.    •   Deposit plus 50% of the invoice total

4.    •   Deposit plus 75% of the invoice total

5.    •   No refund

There is no refund for arriving late or leaving the trip early.

Discovery Art Travel reserves the right to cancel the trip due to low enrolment, or if we feel that the quality of the trip or the safety of travelers would be compromised. In such a case, we will refund all payments received to date, which constitutes full settlement.

Once the trip has COVID clearance and the departure is guaranteed, cancellations will be subject to the above penalties. We will attempt to make a decision about the guaranteed departure  before May 15, 2023

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Payment Information

Please contact us to ensure that there is a space available for Japan, November 1-20, 2023. If there is space available, please secure your space  by making  a deposit of $1000 USD using our secure online PayPal link on this website at BOOK NOW or Telephone 1-250-537-4906 to make a credit card deposit.

 Japan 2023 payment schedule will be posted when available.

A deposit of $1000 USD is required to hold a space.  An invoice for the remaining balance will be sent out to you. The total excursion cost is $8795 USD(Estimated). An interim payment of $1000 USD is payable on or before September 15, 2022, and the final payment is due in our office on September 15, 2023. The single supplement( amount to be determined)is also due and payable on September 15, 2023.

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Payment Information

Online Payment

Deposit Full Payment - excl. Airfare Interim Payment
$1000 USD.
$8795 USD.*
Type in amount:

*Deposits can be made in either USD or Canadian currency. Discovery Art Travel pays for services in foreign countries in USD. The final excursion price in USD is estimated 12 months ahead of the departure date. Therefore, depending on currency fluctuations, price increases in services, surcharges and taxes, the final excursion price may vary.

Prices on your final invoice will be stated in USD. Clients are welcome to make payments in either USD or the equivalent Canadian currency.

Registration Process

When your deposit has been received, you will receive a confirmation email that you have purchased your secure option for a seat in this excursion.

You will then receive a registration form; letter/contract; and liability waiver. 

We recommend that you do not book non refundable flights or other services until this excursion has been given a guaranteed departure date. This guaranteed departure date will be given to you as soon as possible. 

There will be additional information letters sent to you as needed, and an invoice for the interim payment and for the final payment. 


Explore the magic of this rich and diverse culture in the colourful autumn season.
Enjoy its amazing gardens, temples, potteries, ancient kiln sites, cuisine, fabrics and architecture. Appreciate Japanese flower arranging, tea ceremony, indigo dyeing, paper making, laquerware, and woodworking. Travel with an on-board ceramic artist and tour leader and a Japanese escort. Savour out of the way places and the electric energy of the city life.

For More Information: Ph/Fax (250) 537- 4906 • E-mail: Denys James.