Culture and garden trip to Japan

Welcome to this year’s garden trip in Japan which is really for everyone with a garden interest. This journey takes us through the fascinating Japanese culture and its garden history. We will visit several of Japan’s most famous gardens, temples and castles, several of which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List and are seen as national treasures. We will visit gardens of different categories, styles, designs, layouts with connections to the historical periods, architecture, religions, the imperial family, shoguns and nature. We will travel by boat, bus, train and walk through wonderful nature and experience forests, coasts and sacred mountains that will provide a deeper insight into how both ancient and modern Japanese garden designers work. During the journey we will discover the connection between nature and the gardens with art, ceramics, culture, legends and mythology. We will both experience the gardens in depth and see fantastic views in natural landscapes and in modern Japan’s big cities like Kyoto and Tokyo. After the days program, there are opportunities for those who want to discover for themselves what Japan offers, e.g. a fantastic kitchen with food and drink and the opportunity to purchase garden tools, crafts and ceramics, which is used for bonsai, ikebana (flower arrangements) and for tea ceremonies. This journey takes us through changing nature and a thousand years of different cultural time periods. A journey adapted for anyone who wants to experience the functionality, security and comforts of modern Japan in combination with culture, history and several of the world’s most beautiful gardens.

Culture and garden trip to Japan 2

Day 1: Flight to Osaka
Flight to Osaka. Meals are included on the long-haul flight

Day 2: Arrival in Osaka
Arrival in Osaka and transfer to the hotel. Overnight in Osaka. (Dinner)

Day 3: Himeji and Adachi Museum of Art.
In the morning we go to Himeji Castle – Japan’s most spectacular castle with impressive size and beauty. The castle is both a national treasure and is on the World Heritage List. Unlike many other Japanese castles, it was never destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and has survived to this day as one of the country’s twelve original castles. We continue to the Adachi Museum of Art, which presents a fantastic combination of founder Adachi Zenko’s passion for Japanese art and garden design. The Adachi Museum of Art is best known for its award-winning garden. It has annually been named the best garden in Japan since 2003 by the “Journal of Japanese Gardening”. Overnight in Matsue. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 4: Yushi-en Garden and Taisha Shrine
After breakfast we will take a short boat ride along the moat around Matsue Castle and walk in what used to be a residential area for samurai. Then we visit Yushi-en Garden, a small but beautiful garden on an island in the middle of Lake Nakaumi. In the afternoon we come to Taisha Shrine. This is one of Japan’s oldest Shinto temples and has played a prominent role in Japanese mythology. Overnight in Matsue. (breakfast and lunch)

Day 5: Bonsai village and Ritsurin Koen Garden
We leave Matsue in the morning and continue to Takamatsu on Shikoku Island via Seto Ohashi Bridge, an outstanding bridge overlooking Seto’s inland sea. Takamatsu City is known for its tradition of producing a beautiful exhibition of pines. We will have a tour of a bonsai village with over 250 years of history of bonsai cultivation and which has a share of 80% in the domestic market of bonsai pines. Afterwards, we can enjoy a walk through Ritsurin Koen Garden, a landscape garden in Takamatsu City, built by the local feudal lords during the early Edo period (1603–1868). Overnight in Takamatsu. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 6: Miracle Botanical Museum and 100 Stepps of Garden
In the morning we travel on to Kyoto, which served as the capital of Japan and the emperor’s residence from 794 to 1868. On the way we will stop at Yumebutai on Awaji Island to see the Miracle Planet Botanical Museum, a large greenhouse popular with designers and architects working with plants and gardens. We will also visit the 100 Stepps of Garden complex with 100 flower beds. In the afternoon we travel through the Akashi Ohashi Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge and arrive in Kyoto late in the afternoon. Overnight in Kyoto. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 7: Ryoan-ji, Arashiyama, Daitokuji with Daisen-in and Imperial Palace
Early in the morning, visit Ryoan-ji Temple, the site of Japan’s world-famous karesansui garden. We then continue to the Arashiyama area on the western outskirts of Kyoto. We visit the Tenryu-ji Temple, which has a garden built in the 15th century and is known for its stone waterfall. We visit the Daitokuji temple area, built in the 14th century and considered one of the most significant temples in history. It was used, among other things, for tea ceremonies by shoguns and the most famous tea ceremony master in the 16th century Sen no Rikyu. One of the many gardens within the temple area is the Daisen-in, whose garden design contains symbolism and mysticism from, among others, Buddhism, Shintoism and Daoism. During the day we will also visit the Imperial Palace which was the residence of the imperial family for over a thousand years between 794–1868, within the area there are several gardens and buildings with architecture that reflects several time periods and areas of use. Overnight in Kyoto. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 8: Fushimi Inari Shrine, Sanboin, Nijo Castle and Kiyomizudera
Early in the morning we visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine, an important Shinto shrine in Kyoto. It is known for its thousands of vermilion-colored tori gates, which create a network of roads behind the main buildings. Then we visit Sanboin, built in 1115 and located within the Daigoji Temple area. The garden was designed in the 16th century by Toyotomi Hideyoshi who was kampaku (shogun) and contains several beautiful bridges and stones with both esoteric and symbolic meanings. During the day we visit Nijo Castle, created by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period (1603–1867). Our next destination is Kiyomizudera which was founded in 780 and is one of the most famous temples in Japan, among other things for its waterfall and the fantastic viewpoint. From Kiyomizudera we go through Higashiyama to Gion which is Kyoto’s most famous Geisha district. The area we travel through is full of experiences of the traditional old Kyoto, the narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional trade shops remind you of the old capital. Overnight in Kyoto. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 9: Mt. Fuji and Lake Ashi
We leave Kyoto and take the Shinkansen (high speed train) to Hakone, one of the most popular destinations in Japan. Weather permitting, we take a bus to the sacred mountain Mt. Fuji (5th Station) which is Japan’s highest mountain (3,776 meters). We arrive at Ashi Lake and here we take a boat trip and enjoy the best views of the lake combined with Mt. Fuji. Overnight in Hakone. (Breakfast lunch and dinner)

Day 10: Kamakura, Yokohama and Tokyo with Meiji Jingu
After breakfast we leave Hakone for Kamakura, where we visit the large Buddha statue and then continue towards Yokohama and visit the Sankeien garden, which consists of groves, traditional old Japanese structures, ponds, waterfalls, bridges and a museum. From Sankeien we go to the largest Chinatown in Japan. After lunch we continue to Tokyo. We visit Meiji Jingu. The shrine was built to honor Emperor Meiji and Empress Shokan, who ruled during a period of rapid modernization in Japan that began in the second half of the 19th century. Overnight in Tokyo. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 11: Koishikawa Korakuen, Imperial Palace East Gardens and Asakusa
In the morning we will visit Koishikawa Korakuen, one of Tokyo’s oldest and best Japanese gardens. Like most traditional Japanese gardens, Koishikawa Korakuen strives to reproduce famous landscapes in miniature, with ponds, rocks, trees and artificial hills to replicate both Japanese and Chinese landscapes. Next visit is one of the Imperial Palace’s garden areas, The Imperial Palace East Gardens. We then continue to Tsukiji Outer Market, where we have lunch. In the afternoon we come to Asakusa, where you can experience the old Tokyo. Asakusa’s main attraction is Sensoji, a very popular Buddhist temple built in the 6th century. Overnight in Tokyo. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 12: Shinjuku Gyoen and Shinjuku Office Tower Building
In the morning we arrive at Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo’s largest and most popular parks. Shinjuku Gyoen dates back to the Edo period (1603–1868) and was a feudal lord’s Tokyo residence. Shinjuku Gyoen represents the modern western category of gardens that emerged during the Meji period and consists of three different types of gardens: one with traditional Japanese garden landscape, one French garden and English landscape. We then head to Shinjuku, one of the liveliest “hubs” in Tokyo. The area is seen as the pulsating heart of Tokyo and Shinjuku is probably the place many people imagine when they think of Tokyo with neon lights, crowds, tall buildings, lively streets and energy in abundance. We’re coming to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices. We take the elevator up and enjoy some of the city’s best views. On clear days it is possible to see Mt. Fuji from here. The rest of the time is free. Overnight in Tokyo. (Breakfast and lunch)

Day 13: Return to Sweden
Transfer to the airport.

Culture and garden trip to Japan