Japan Arts Tours

Japanese arts are as distinct as they are refined, having long captivated and enchanted the world with unique aesthetics and profound cultural depth. From highly refined traditional forms such as ukiyo-e woodblock prints, calligraphy, pottery and ritual tea ceremonies to contemporary expressions in manga and anime, Japanese arts encompass a vast array of mediums, styles, and philosophies. Experience the vibrant diversity of the arts across Japan in places, experiences, activities and complete trips. Learning traditional crafts in cobblestoned neighborhoods, with master craftsmen talking you through textiles and pottery, the classic and contemporary. Exploring contemporary galleries with the curators and meeting the artists in their studios. Canvasing the sublime designs of Kyoto, delving into the edgy originality of Tokyo, and finding the ancient customs and crafts that continue to dominate old-world towns and villages.

Marble printing in Kyoto

Arts in Japan

Kyoto's Crafts and Arts Traditions

Kyoto is the location one of the world’s greatest concentrations of traditional craftsmen, but even in Japan, a country where craft is revered to deific proportions, domestic demand both to learn and buy traditional crafts is waning. However, there is a new, strong movement emerging from Kyoto, with a government-sponsored “Japan Handmade” initiative to support the exhibiting of six Kyoto multigenerational family crafts firms and their work internationally, and adapting their creations to the contemporary market. Some ancient crafts lost in time, such as silk marbling, have been rediscovered and being brought back. In Kyoto, explore movement and creations firsthand.

Encounter creators of woven bamboo, explore metal weaving in a small studio, discover many heritage examples of pottery, like those crafted by Asahiyaki since 1600. Spend an afternoon at a hands-on pottery experience or time your visit for one of the country's important pottery festivals. Art extends to fashion here as well, Kyoto the nationwide center of kimono design. Visit studios such as Chiso, founded in 1555, proud of taking many years just to perfect the dyeing technique of just one color, takeing between three to 18 months for them to create one of their hand-designed products.

Shigeki Hayashi sculpture, Kyoto, JapanKyoto Contemporary Art

Dignified temples and shrines, a massive castle, sublime landscaped gardens, and traditional crafts... These are all things that are striking for a visitor in Kyoto. However, Kyoto is also a place of new things and ideas and the city has long been a place of innovation in the arts and sciences.

And although modern art in Japan, along with almost everything else modern or new, is centered in Tokyo with contemporary Japanese artists eager to have their work shown and sold there, the art scene in Kyoto although always very small when compared to Tokyo nonetheless in the last few years there has been a rise in galleries and flourishing scene in Kyoto devoted to ''new'' Japanese art.

Several galleries have cropped up in the city, and in recent years, many young people and artists are discovering links to past, renovating machiya (traditional Kyoto merchant homes), converting them into stylish restaurants, cafes, galleries and shops. This has added a new face to the city landscape of ancient Kyoto.

Naoshima Art Island

Once an area of heavy industry, Naoshima proper has being reborn as a space of modern art museums with its architectural buildings and sculptures distributed all around its landscapes bringing worldwide renown. Throughout the island are scattered outdoor sculpture and installation art by world-renowned artists such as Kusama Yayoi. Indoors, impressive art collections can be found at several museums including the Benesse House Museum, itself part of a striking series of architectural strucutures including lodging designed by the world-renowned architect Tadao Ando. His art and accommodation spaces in reinforced concrete are striking backdrop to the various art installations. The harmonious design of the buildings also define spaces in unique ways that allow for constantly changing patterns of light and wind.




Every one of our private tours are individually designed, we may incorporate places and activities into any trip. In Kyoto and Tokyo, exploring the highest forms of traditional and contemporary crafts, arts, and architecture, visiting notable museums, installations, and meeting with artists and craftsmen working in a variety of mediums, including textiles and pottery, as well as designers in the capital city and Kyoto, witnessing the traditional handmade crafts movement’s to adapt and lend its ancient craftsmanship to contemporary applications.


Rooted in centuries of rich heritage and influenced by various artistic traditions, Japanese art embodies a harmonious blend of precision, simplicity, and profound attention to detail. Some traditional Japanese crafts have been nurtured for generations, like pottery, while others such as silk dyeing have only recently been rediscovered. This comprehensive arts tour explores the highest forms of traditional and contemporary crafts, traditional and modern art, performance and theater, and architecture that has defined a nation and influenced the world over centuries.

Explore the hallowed I.M Pei Miho museum, Mori museum, and Naoshima "Art Island" while meeting with artists and craftsman working in a variety of mediums, gain an insider's perspective on Japanese culture, and be immersed in the immense varieties and rituals of cuisine, from the serenity of a tea ceremony to famed sushi bars. In Tokyo, visit galleries hidden on back alleys and contemporary design located in warehouses.

Customize this tour takes you far off the beaten track, to incorporate a pottery festival, ceramic and porcelain towns, and more. It's completely customizable and can explore any of your niche interests. 


  • Performing arts: Traditional theater, samurai and geisha performances, sumo and baseball (sports are much more of a ritualized performance in Japan)
  • Modern art in the Miho, Naoshima, and Kyoto's MoMAK museums, as well as artist studios art spaces in Tokyo. Anime and manga galleries and spaces.
  • Premier zen gardens, including the The Imperial Palace East Gardens, Hamarikyu, Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine, and Shinjuku Gyo-en in Tokyo, Okunoin's dramatic Buddhist cemetery, Kyoto's Sento Imperial Palace Garden, Garden of the Katsura Imperial Villa and Shugaku-in Detached Palace and Garden, Kenroku-en in Kanazawa.
  • Crafts in Tokyo and Kyoto, including silk dyeing, marble printing, calligraphy, and wood-block prints.
  • Architecture - modern takes in Tokyo and Naoshima, and traditional in Kyoto, Kanazawa's samurai structures, and Takayama's tradtional villages.
  • Pottery - for those with serious interest, attending a pottery festival and exploring some or all of the "Six Ancient Kilns in Japan," including extravagant works produced along the "pottery trail" in the Kyushu towns of Imari, Arita and Hasami, as well visiting as the Kyushu Ceramic Museum. Other destination include Shigaraki near Kyoto, Bizen, Okayama Echizen ware, produced in Echizen, Odacho and Miyazaki, Fukui Prefecture Seto ware , Aichi Prefecture Shigaraki ware, Tamba ware, produced in Sasayama, and Tachikui in Hyōgo Tokoname ware, produced in Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture.
  • Culinary crafts, including artisnal dessert, candy sculpturing, and sushi making.


potterer in KyotoCeramics, pottery, and other traditional crafts distinguish this trip
For those who admire and passion is for Japanese art and crafts, we can plan exceptional itineraries capturing specific interests, such as varieties of pottery, including kiln visits and artist and craftsmen encounters, all off the beaten path. Enjoy this journey from Fukoaka along the "pottery trail," visiting Kyushu’s finest pottery towns and kilns, acclaimed Naoshima Art Island, explore Kyoto's ancient and modern crafts.

Japanese culture is centered on an unshakable self-possession and obsession with quality, something found in the incredible food, ancient inns, trains, and almost every aspect of local life. It's also something that discovered through old-world craftsmanship, exemplified by pottery and other refined crafts. During this custom-tailored journey, immerse into Japan's finest crafts. Explore the highest forms of traditional crafts, meeting with artisans and craftsmen who have helped to define contemporary Japanese style but remaining loyal to the past.

Kyoto is the location one of the world’s greatest concentrations of other traditional craftsmen, but even in Japan, a country where craft is revered to deific proportions, domestic demand both to learn and buy traditional crafts is waning. However, there is a new, strong movement emerging from Kyoto, with a government-sponsored “Japan Handmade” initiative to support the exhibiting of six Kyoto multigenerational family crafts firms and their work internationally, and adapting their creations to the contemporary market. Each of the six has created a new line of products, sensitive to the skills of their family’s craft but with an eye to new and modern markets. In Kyoto, we will witness this unprecedented movement and creations firsthand.

Onta pottery is one of the living treasures of Japan and is celebrated throughout a series of festivals in mountain villages around Hita which we may arrange your attendance. As you meander Japan's "Pottery Trail," discover the differences between Onta pottery and Karatsu stoneware, used in tea ceremonies, then contrast both with the elaborated glazes and decoration of porcelain from Imari and Arita. Explore the other exotic crafts produced in Nagasaki and the Bizen pottery of Kurashiki. Visit pottery and craftsmanship festivals throughout the country and learn how to make your own. We can provide an in-depth exploration of the pottery scene, taking you from classic to contemporary, mountain villages to modern cities.


  • Visiting producers of traditional crafts, such as Kohchosai Kosuga, a fifth generation producer of fine bamboo products to the royal family.
  • Visit and learn about new expressions of traditional crafts, including silk marbling manufacturing.
  • Meet with local artisans producing traditional crafts in their studios.

Other Arts Destinations in Japan

  • Japan's fourth city Fukuoka has a great diversity of attractions, including the wide-ranging Fukuoka Art Museum and the ancient treasures found in Kyushu National Museum. For those interested in pottery, the annual Onta Folk Pottery Festival is the country's largest.
  • Famous for its hilltop castle, Karatsu produces some of the great Japanese collectables, notably earth-toned stoneware for tea ceremony aficionados.
  • Kyushu is home to Japan's pre-eminent pottery towns, traditional kilns producing extravagant works in Imari, Arita and Hasami. You can explore the production process and draw your own designs on unfinished porcelain ware.
  • In Kurishiki and Nagasaki you can combine encounters with potters and textile makers with shopping districts stuffed full of antiques and old crafts.
  • A sublime private collection of Western art can be seen at the Ohara Museum of Art, with Picasso, El Greco, Pollock and Kandinsky among those on display.
  • Built underground to blend in harmony with the natural landscape in Naoshima, Chichu Art Museum features striking minimalist architecture.
  • Kanazawa is a UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art, where the arts have flourished since it was the seat of the Maeda Clan from the year 1550. The region, Ishikawa, thrives with traditional Japanese crafts that have been nurtured for generations. Among the wealth of art produced by talented local artisans are decorative Kutani china (Kutani-yaki), gold leaf, rustic Ohi ware and Kaga-yuzen, an ornate silk dyeing technique used for intricate kimonos. Kanazawa's futuristic 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art provides a great overview of prominent artists working in Japan today.

The Indochina Travel Difference in Japan

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