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The Japan Travel Experts: Luxury, Access, Tradition, Style
Artisans of Leisure's Japan tours draw on company's unparalleled expertise and innovation
A garbage incinerator may not be on the must-see list of every luxury traveler to Japan, but it was for recent clients of Artisans of Leisure. The New York-based luxury tour operator arranged a private tour of a beautiful, state-of-the-art incinerator—designed by the architect of the new extension to the Museum of Modern Art in New York—as part of a private cultural tour emphasizing contemporary Japanese architecture. Other recent Japan requests the company has fulfilled? A private introduction to Zen meditation with a Buddhist monk, impossible-to-get reservations at Kyoto’s most exclusive restaurants, and private meetings with curators at museums throughout Japan for a trustee of a major US Asian art museum. For their Japan tours, Artisans of Leisure combines this unsurpassed level of customization and cultural access with new destinations, new hotels and updated private cultural touring, capturing the absolute best of traditional and contemporary Japan.
“Our company is known for our unrivalled in-house Japan expertise and our ability to incorporate special interests into our private cultural tours of Japan,” says Ashley Isaacs Ganz, president of Artisans of Leisure, who, like all of the company’s Japan experts, has lived in the country. “That’s one of the many reasons our Japan tours are renowned among sophisticated travelers as being the most luxurious, personalized, insightful and rewarding.”
Artisans of Leisure’s Japan tours emphasize Japanese culture through the arts, history, cuisine, architecture, gardens and local traditions, and can be customized to incorporate myriad special interests and activities, such as:
- Family—Learning origami in a private home, visiting the best neighborhoods for pop culture, shopping for Japanese gadgets, visiting Japanese theme parks such as Sanrio Puroland and Tokyo Disneyland, tours focused on anime and manga, dressing like a geisha for a photo shoot, attending cultural performances such as Bunraku puppet theater, attending baseball games and sumo tournaments, exploring castles, and taking private martial arts lessons.
- Culinary—Private cooking classes, guided shopping for Japanese cookware and serving utensils, visiting markets to learn about local specialties and typical Japanese ingredients, meals at select venues such as temples, exclusive traditional inns and tea houses, reservations at the top restaurants in Tokyo (including Michelin-starred and Relais & Chateaux-affiliated restaurants) and Kyoto, transfers to hard-to-find restaurants.
- Tea—Private tea ceremonies, excursions to tea plantations, visits to Japan’s most renowned shops for tea and tea utensils, and excursions to villages that have produced revered tea ceremony ceramics for hundreds of years.
- Gardens—Tours of all types of Japanese gardens, including stroll gardens, dry rock gardens, tea gardens, courtyard gardens, and hill-and-pond gardens. Access to private and imperial gardens. Private introductory classes in ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), bonsai and garden care. Shopping for Japanese garden fixtures, including stone lanterns, and gardening accessories.
- Traditional Arts & Crafts—Private excursions to locations throughout Japan known for producing the best local crafts, including indigo dye, various styles of ceramics, lacquerware, candles and other items. Visits to the workshops of traditional artisans. Shopping for traditional utensils used to produce Japanese crafts (brushes, inks, utensils for ceramics). Tickets to traditional arts performances (Kabuki, Noh, Butoh, traditional music).
- Contemporary Art & Architecture—Visiting Japan’s most impressive contemporary buildings—e.g., Tadao Ando’s Church of Light, garbage incinerators designed by Yoshio Taniguchi and Friedensreich Hundertwasser, starchitect-designed boutiques for Prada, Hermès and Mikimoto in Tokyo—and seeing art at remote, architecturally significant venues such as the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, Miho Museum, Benesse Art Site Naoshima, and 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.
- Photography—Personalized tours for professional or amateur photographers, including visits to Japan’s most scenic spots and the best places to capture traditional life and contemporary pop culture in action.
- Hiking—Tours incorporating half-day and full-day hikes in locations throughout Japan, including groves of cherry trees in full bloom, bamboo forests, mountains dotted with temples and shrines, the historic Old Tokaido Road (depicted in ukiyo-e prints by Hiroshige and others), and important pilgrimage routes.
- Seasonal Events & Festivals—Tours designed around attending local festivals. Tours to coincide with peak seasons for plum blossoms, cherry blossoms and fall foliage in locations throughout Japan.
- Buddhism—Private Zen meditation lessons with monks, vegetarian meals at temples, overnight stays at temples, day hikes along Buddhist temple pilgrimage routes, and learning about symbolism at important Buddhist sites in Kyoto, Nara, Kamakura and elsewhere.
- Shopping—Visiting the best boutiques and galleries for Japanese antiques, folk art, kimono and accessories, ceramics, washi (handmade paper), tansu (chests), hibachi, ukiyo-e prints, handmade knives and cookware, lacquerware, pens, housewares, and many other specialty items.
Sample itineraries for Japan and over 25 other countries are available on the Artisans of Leisure website: http://www.artisansofleisure.com/. All Artisans of Leisure tours include luxury accommodation, private sightseeing, expert planning and advice, full logistical support (including transfers, internal transportation, luggage assistance, visa provision), access to Artisans of Leisure’s extensive international network of associate offices, and more.
Artisans of Leisure is a luxury tour operator specializing in private, customized tours in international destinations.
For additional information and details about Artisans of Leisure tours, please call 800-214-8144 or 1-212-243-3239, or visit the company’s website www.artisansofleisure.com or blog www.artisansofleisuretraveler.com.