From Ito, Kuma, Ando, Ishigami and other contemporary architects’ cutting-edge works in the bustling streets of Tokyo, Kamakura temples, to the serene gardens of Kyoto and Japan’s art island: Naoshima, experience the breadth of Japanese architecture hand in hand with your architect guide and the savor of attentive Japanese hospitality.
Japan evokes both technological frenzy and the contemplation of temples or traditional gardens. The country is full of contrasts: urban density versus immaculate nature, recurrent stress at work versus the cult of Zen. Japan is renowned for its diversity: its gastronomy, its extraordinary nature and of course … its architecture! This trip proposes the discovery of a set of masterpieces in this country full of dualities. From refined temples to ultra-noisy and pallid Pachinko halls, from uniformed schoolchildren to extravagantly dressed teenagers, from heated toilet seats to edible works of art, from the endless stream of commuters to enigmatic puppets: Japan is a country of harmony and contrast.
The journey starts in a dazzling way in the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, then we slowly move into a world of tradition and harmony with a few stops in Nasu, Karuizawa and Kanazawa before finding ourselves in the traditional heart of Japan: Kyoto. Two days of wandering between temples and gardens, at the border of the past and the present. This stage prepares us for a serene immersion in a fusion of art and architecture on the art islands of the Seto Inland Sea. The journey reaches its climax here where the exceptional projects are nestled in a fascinating landscape. The journey continues in the city of Osaka, where some of the most significant buildings of the great architect Tadao Ando are located, full of elegance and poetry. It is in this city of remarkable architecture that the trip ends, with the return flight from the artificial island of Kansai Airport in Osaka.
Join us on this architectural trip to Japan!
DAY 1 – Tuesday 19th September 2023 – Departure of flights from different destinations.
DAY 2 – Wednesday 20th September 2023 – Arrival in Tokyo and first night.
DAY 3 – Thursday 21th September 2023 – Tokyo.
DAY 4 – Friday 22th September 2023 – Tokyo & Karuizawa.
DAY 5 – Saturday 23rd September 2023 – Nasu.
DAY 6 – Sunday 24th September 2023 – Kanazawa.
DAY 7 – Monday 25th September 2023 – Kyoto.
DAY 8 – Tuesday 26th September 2023 – Kyoto & Takamatsu.
DAY 9 – Wednesday 27th September 2023 – Naoshima.
DAY 10 – Thursday 28th September 2023 – Teshima, Okayama & Osaka.
DAY 11 – Friday 29th September 2023 – Kobe & Osaka.
DAY 12 – Saturday 30th September 2023 – Osaka.
DAY 13 – Sunday 1rst October 2023 – Departure from Osaka to home cities.
Individual flights from from the cities of origin*.
*Flights are not included in the price.
After breakfast, the exploration begins on the hills of Roppongi to admire the city of Tokyo from the imposing Mori Tower and get a first global view of this sprawling city. Mori Tower is the sixth tallest skyscraper in Tokyo and is known for its breathtaking view. Then, still in Roppongi, we visit the 21 Design Sight museum designed by architect Tadao Ando and fashion designer Issey Miyake. It is a museum that reminds us how design is now part of everyday life. Design is not only about something that can be seen, but also contributes to creating relationships between humans or objects.
In the afternoon, we stroll along the promenade and beach at Odaiba, an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. Odaiba, which literally means “fort”, was built during the Edo period to protect Tokyo from sea attacks. Now, the area is mostly known for its shopping and entertainment. The tour ends in the middle of Ginza, a frenetic district known for its stores, art galleries, cafes and more…many of them signed by the greatest architects of course.
Group gathering and departure from the hotel
First view of the city from the Mori
21 Design Sight Tower, Tadao Ando, 2007
13:30 Lunch in Roppongi district
Walk along Odaiba Park, second view of Tokyo
Walk in Ginza
Free night and first night in Tokyo
The morning begins with a visit to a major work of Kenzo Tange: the Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo. The old wooden cathedral (1899) was destroyed during the Second World War, Kenzo Tange won the architectural competition for its reconstruction, the building was completed in 1964. We will then make a short stop at the Jiyu Gakuen school for girls, a building signed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
The rest of the day is spent in the Omotesando district, a mecca of contemporary architecture, with a density of projects signed by the greatest Japanese and international architects. Omotesando Boulevard was planned in 1920 as the main access road to the Meiji Shrine. Later, zelkova trees were planted on both sides of the boulevard giving it its special atmosphere. Nowadays, the boulevard, lined with 160 trees, is passed off as Tokyo’s Champs Élysées.
08:45 Departure to the hotel
Saint Mary’s Cathedral of Tokyo, Kenzo Tange, 1964
Jiyu Gakuen School for Girls, Frank Lloyd Wright, 1921
Lunch towards Omotesando
Yoyogi National Stadium & Gymnasium, Kenzo Tange, 1964
Tokyu Plaza Omotesando, Hiroshi Nakamura, 2012
Gyre, MVRDV, 2007
Dior, SANAA, 2003
Omotesando Hills, Tadao Ando, 2006
Louis Vuitton, Jun Aoki, 2002
Tod’s, Toyo Ito, 2004
Coach Flaghip Store, OMA, 2013
One Omotesando, Kengo Kuma, 2003
Prada, Herzog & deMeuron, 2002
Sunny Hills, Kengo Kuma 2013
Nezu Museum, Kengo Kuma, 1940
Free night and overnight stay in Tokyo
PEACEFUL KARUIZAWA AND UENO
We spend the morning in Karuizawa for a visit to the must-see Hiroshi Senju Museum. The museum opened in 2011 and has over 100 works by Hiroshi Senju, a Japanese painter known for his large canvases and his mastery of the ancient Japanese painting technique known as nihonga. Architect Ryue Nishizawa has created a harmonious link between the works on display and the surrounding landscape in a surprising space.
In the afternoon, we return to Tokyo and visit the many cultural buildings in Ueno Park.
08:30 Departure from the hotel
Hiroshi Senju Museum, Ryue Nishizawa, 2011
13:00 Train to Ueno with ekiben (lunch box)
Tokyo Metropolitan Festival Hall, Kunio Maekawa, 1961
National Museum of Western Art, Le Corbusier, 1959
Tokyo National Museum (Horyuj Treasure Gallery – optional)
International Library of Literature, Tadao Ando, 2002
Return to the hotel at leisure.
Our first visit is to the Nakagawamachi Bato Hiroshige Museum. The museum opened in 2000 and houses the magnificent collection of the famous Hiroshige Utagawa, the great designer, printmaker and painter of the ukiyo-e art movement of the Edo period. Kengo Kuma wanted to create a building that reflects the mode of spatial representation in Hiroshige’s prints: a method involving a succession of transparent layers. Kuma uses louvers made of Japanese cedar wood, which is a local specialty, to create a structure that incorporates this layering method. The structure and latticework becomes an architectural expression of Hiroshige’s representation of the changing elements of nature.
In the afternoon, we visit the Art Biotop park, designed by the young architect Junya Ishi- gami. The architect creates a “constructed landscape” using natural elements such as trees and water as building materials. 318 trees and 160 ponds form a unique landscape. Junya Ishigami establishes a new frontier between architecture, landscape architecture and art. He seeks a new meeting point between architecture and nature, working on the nuances of this boundary between natural and built. “The project shows how we can interact with nature and leave our mark on it without destroying it. In this sense, the Art Biotop Water Garden provides a fundamental contribution to the field of architecture” says Martha Schwartz, president of the jury for Ishigami’s 2019 Obel Prize for this project.
8:00 a.m. Departure from the hotel
Nakagawa-Machi Bato Hiroshige Museum, Kengo Kuma, 2000
12:30 pm Lunch and visit to Art Biotop Park, Junya Ishigami, 2018
6:16 p.m. Arrival of the train at Tokyo Station
Rest of the afternoon free to enjoy at your leisure
Kanazawa, the Golden City
The D.T.Suzuki Museum is a small museum dedicated to the life and work of Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki (1870-1966), a prominent Buddhist philosopher. The museum was opened in 2011 in the area where D.T. Suzuki was born. Yoshi Taniguchi’s minimalist architecture expresses D.T. Suzuki’s life, philosophy and religious ideas. Suzuki’s life, philosophy and religious ideas: powerful and simple lines and open spaces guarantee visitors pause and reflection.
In the afternoon, we visit the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. This museum is designed as a park where people can gather and meet. A circular space delimited by a glass skin defines a particular spatiality. This glass façade is a kind of reversible membrane, allowing visitors to feel the presence of the other inside and outside. The project is organized around the concepts of “coincidence”, “joy” and “accessibility”. The use of glass walls, also for the interior partitions, accentuates this transparency and clarity.
Our day ends with a visit to Kenroku Garden, a 17th century Japanese landscape garden. This garden is one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan with the Kōraku-en in Okayama and the Kairaku-en in Mito. The walk is a long and intense discovery punctuated by bodies of water, bridges, teahouses, trees, flowers, stones, viewpoints and hidden corners.
08:30 Departure from the hotel
Train ride to Kanazawa
Museum D.T. Suzuki Museum, Yoshio Taniguchi, 2011
Museum of 21st Century Contemporary Art, SANAA, 2004
Kenroku-en, traditional Japanese garden
Train ride to Kyoto
Back to the past. Ginkakuji, the silver pavilion, is a Zen temple which was originally the villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa for his retirement. He had it built on the model of Kinkakuji (the golden pavilion). After his death and according to his wish, the villa was converted into a Zen temple. We then discover the urban structure of Kyoto, based on the Chinese model, and observe the traditional town houses, called machiya.
In the afternoon, we visit Tofukuji temple, founded in 1236 by the powerful Fuji-wara clan. The complex represents one of the schools of Zen Buddhism, namely the Rinzai sect. The Zen gardens are remarkably singular, they were redesigned in 1930 by none other than Mirei Shigemori (1896-1975). Shigemori was a landscape architect, practicing painting, tea ceremony and ikebana. His fascination with contemporary and western art may have been the basis for his very bold innovations during his long career.
Last visit of the day, the Fushimi Inari Shrine, a Shinto shrine known for its thousands of traditional orange doors (tori). It is one of the most important and oldest shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice.
08:00 Departure from the hotel
Stroll through the streets of Kyoto and visit a machiya
Fushimi Inari Shrine
18:30 Return to the hotel
Second immersion in the inspiring city of Kyoto. We start the day with the most famous garden of Japan: the Ryoanji temple, dating from the 15th century, mainly known for its famous karesansui or dry garden. The garden measures 10 by 30 meters. Fifteen rocks, gathered in five groups, are arranged on a bed of white pebbles. The pebbles are raked daily. There are dozens of theories about the meaning of this configuration, such as a tiger crossing a river with its cubs, mountains rising above the clouds or islands in the sea. One thing is certain: the place is not lacking in poetry.
Then we visit the famous Kinkakuji temple, called the golden pavilion, a Zen temple partially covered with golden leaves located in a garden of idyllic beauty.
Then we head to Arashiyama, a district located in the western suburbs of Kyoto. Here, nature is omnipresent, the surrounding mountains and the Katsura River immerse us in a dreamy Japan. We visited the Tenryuji temple and its magnificent garden before crossing the famous bamboo forest.
08:00 am Departure to the hotel
Transfer to Arashiyama
12:30 pm Traditional lunch in a Temple included
Sagano Bamboo Path
Transfer to Takamatsu by train
Overnight in Takamatsu
A getaway to Naoshima
We ride around Naoshima Island on an electric bicycle in order to explore the hilly island in a playful way. A multitude of artistic interventions along the way punctuate the walk and invite to contemplate the beautiful landscape. The works of internationally renowned architect Tadao Ando are omnipresent on this island.
The island has many small architectural wonders that we will discover such as the SANAA port terminal, the Chichu Art Museum or the Lee Ufan Museum. The Chichu Art Museum is specially designed to house the works of 3 artists: James Turrell, Walter De Maria and Claude Monet. Chichu means “under the ground” in Japanese and, by analogy, the museum is almost completely underground.
The Art House Project is an art project in the Honmura area. It now has seven sites: Kadoya, Minamidera, Kinza, Go’o Shrine, Ishibashi, Gokaisho and Haisha. The artists take over uninhabited houses in residential areas with their artworks. These interventions blend past and present, and the daily life of the islanders continues through these projects. These interventions engage a generous exchange between visitors and local residents, guaranteeing memorable moments. The project is constantly evolving and establishing a new model of community, characterized by a positive interaction between town and country, young and old, residents and visitors.
7:30 a.m. Departure from the hotel
Transfer by ferry to Naoshima and rental of electric bikes
Port terminal, SANAA, 2006
Chichu Art Museum, Tadao Ando, 2004
Lee Ufan Museum, Tadao Ando, 2010
Art House Projects
4:00 pm. Drop off of electric bikes
5:00 pm Night in Naoshima
*Accommodation in Takamatsu or Naoshima (if available, at extra cost at Benesse house Hotel).
Art & Architecture in Teshima and Okayama
First stop: Teshima Island. The art museum is the main attraction of the island. It is the result of the collaboration of the architect Ruye Nishizawa and the artist Rei Nato. Standing on a gentle hill overlooking the Seto Inland Sea and close to a rice field, the museum looks like a drop of water that has just fallen. Structurally, the building consists of a 25 cm thick concrete shell, without columns, which extends over a space of 40 by 60 meters, with a maximum height of 4.5 meters. Two oval openings in the concrete shell allow wind, sound and light from the outside world to enter this organic space where nature and architecture are closely linked.
Second and last stop: Okayama Korakuen Garden, one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan.
09:02-9:37 Takamatsu to Ieura Pier of Teshima
Picked by a coach bus
10:30 Teshima Museum
The Heart Archives, Teshima Yokoo House
12:00 Lunch at Shima Kitchen included
14:00 Leave Teshima in the coach bus
14:30 Arrive at Uno, the main island
14:30-15:30 The bus drives the group to KORAKUEN Garden
15:30-17:30 Explore KORAKUEN Garden
17:30-18:00 Take pubic bus to the Okayama Station
18:00-19:00 Okayama to Osaka
20:00 Arrival at your hotel in Osaka
09:00 Departure from the hotel in Osaka
Transfer by bus to Kobe
Visit the center Takenaka Carpentry museum
13:00 Lunch in Kobe (included)
14:30 Departure to Osaka
Ibaraki kasugaoka church – Church of Light, Tadao Ando
Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest, Tadao Ando
Louis Vuitton Osaka Midosuji Façade, Jun Aoki
20:00 Arrival at your hotel
09:00 Departure from the hotel by private bus
Osaka Culturarium in Tempozan, Tadao Ando
Azuma-Row House in Sumiyoshi, Tadao Ando
Sayamaike Museum of Osaka Prefecture, Tadao Ando
1:00 pm Lunch
Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Osaka University, Kazuyo Sejima
Shiba Ryotaro Museum + Library, Tadao Ando
17:00 Arrival at your hotel
After breakfast, check out of the Hotel and free day.
Flight back to your origin country.
End of the architecture trip in Japan.
*Visits program will be definitively established at the time of the confirmation of the trip.
**Variations may occur in the selected visits or in the travel program for reasons beyond the company’s control.
4 nights in Tokyo:Hotel Keihan Tsukiji Ginza Grande.
2 nights in Kyoto: Kyoto Yura Hotel Mgallery or similar
1 night in Takamatsu: JR Hotel Clement Takamatsu or similar
1 night in Naoshima: Benesse house hotel park or similar
3 nights in Osaka: Hotel Vischio Osaka by Granvia or similar
Reserve your place with a deposit of 1.500€
Deadline to register for the trip: 28 July 2023
2nd and final payment: 10 August 2023
Cancellation more than 60 days before departure………….30% of the price
Between 59 and 45 days before departure………………………60% of the price
Between 44 and 30 days before departure………………………90% of the price
Less than 30 days before departure……………………..100% of the price