Art Tours in Japan

Japan art tours are interactive, fully immersing you in a remarkable dedication to style and form. 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.

The country is made unique through a self-possession and obsession with quality. Presentation and aesthetics are fundamental to everything. Through art tours in Japan you enjoy an immersive and insiders perspective on both art and wider Japanese culture. You'll find similar qualities in both the ancient crafts and the contemporary expressions. And you'll meet with those that continue to push the boundaries of perfection, those that add their own interpretations to the rituals passed down over the centuries: there are few other countries that can offer such an in-depth and interactive journey through an art world.

Encounters and Experiences on Art Tours in Japan

Expressions of the Contemporary in Tokyo

The Japanese capital is the heartbeat of a throbbing and thrilling contemporary Asian arts scene. Art may be found in famous national museums, but the experience is more alive in art spaces that inhabit a wonderful diversity of buildings. You'll find galleries tucked away down back alleys, exhibitions in converted warehouses, canvases filling an abandoned floor in an office building, and famous artists displaying works down side streets that are nearly impossible to find. The most inspiring spaces include a renovated bathhouse from the 1950s, an anime-inspired castle in the forest, and the surrealist wonders of the city's postmodern architecture.

Exploring this changing art scene could take a lifetime. While a handful of contemporary museums and galleries are well known, most of the scene has an air of exclusivity. We can recommended one or two places so you can get a feel for the arts, or design two or three days that compare the contrasts. Be guided through Mori Museum by the director, visit artists' studios, explore vast private collections that transcend styles, and take a journey through the architecture that has redefined certain areas of the city. Like any luxury Japan tour, it's impossible to ignore the lure of Tokyo on an art-focused trip.

An Irresistible Showcase of Tradition in Kyoto

Kyoto is Japan's masterpiece, perhaps even the world's most masterful showcase of heritage. More than 1600 temples reveal the audacity and intimacy of design, the aesthetics bounded by old-world customs. Every visit to Kyoto enables you to explore many temples, noting how the architectural and artistic styles changed through the centuries. Villas provide further insight and we can arrange tours of private imperial residences. Mazy streets provide further insight, the wooden architecture casting shadows across narrow lanes populated by brightly colored Geishas. Surrounding the city you'll find expressions of contemporary art, like the mind-boggling Miho Museum and the changing exhibitions at MoMAK, which show how young artists are discovering links to the past

But this historical capital has more, home to one of the great abundances of traditional craftsmen. Find creators of woven bamboo, explore metal weaving in a small studio, then discover many heritage examples of pottery, like those crafted by Asahiyaki. 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 komono design. You can visit companies like Chiso, founded in 1555, proud of taking many years just to perfect the dyeing technique of just one color. Even today, it takes between three to 18 months for them to create one of their hand-designed products.

Other Inspiring Destinations on a Japan Arts Tour

  • 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.
  • 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 so as not to interrupt the natural landscape in Naoshima, Chichu Art Museum is worth visiting for the minimalist architecture alone. It's one of various lesser-known galleries and museums in the city.
  • Kanazawa is a UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art, where the arts have flourished since it was the seat of the Maeda Clan. Contrasting the tradition, the city's futuristic 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art provides a great overview of prominent artists working in Japan today.

Captivating Questions on a Japan Art Tour

When exploring the country, you'll find that two elements of Japanese culture are bound together, creating this inspiring artistic world. There is the pursuit of perfection, found in all aspects of society, celebrated through cuisine and culture as well as art. This is complemented by an unerring commitment to tradition, with ancestral crafts evolving into the 21st century while continuing to honor all their historical fundamentals. Placed together, these elements create intriguing questions. Is Japanese art an expression of innovation or an idealized form of past ideas? Are the works you explore stepping stones on the endless journey to perfection? How can an artist's originality distinguish itself so absolutely when practicing crafts so well known?

Over the last 25 years we have pioneered art tours across Asia, including the first such tours in Vietnam and Myanmar. At the heart of the tours is an intimacy that allows these questions to be considered. Private Japan art tours take you beyond the notable museums and famous attractions, providing connections with the artists that enable you to understand the artistic world. They can be an authentic perspective on the immense varieties of art, or a detailed focus on a contemporary or classic craft.

Every tour is individually designed, pulling from a network of exclusive experiences to build the complete picture. And Japan art tours don't always have to be multi-day itineraries. We also incorporate art encounters and activities into broader luxury Japan vacations, another angle onto a country that always surprises.

INDOCHINA Travel Company

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Phone: (415) 680-3788