Japan: Architecture and Design 2020

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18 Jan – 31 Jan 2020

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Japan: Architecture and Design 2020
Tour Highlights

  • Explore the very latest in Japanese contemporary art, architecture, furniture and fashion with architecture and design writer Stephen Crafti.
  • Discover the juxtaposition between traditional material and contemporary design in Kyoto’s craft ateliers.
  • See the contrast between classic technique and modern style in the restoration of traditional machiya houses for use as the most contemporary of guest houses and design stores.
  • Visit Naoshima, Japan’s ‘art island’, renowned for its contemporary art museums and outdoor sculptures.
  • Explore masterpieces by Japan’s great architect Tadao Ando, including his Shiba Ryotaro Memorial Museum, the magnificent 21-21 Design Sight Museum in Tokyo and the Benesse House Museum on Naoshima Island.
  • Tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s beautiful Jiyu Gakuen Girls’ School and Le Corbusier’s National Museum of Western Art.
  • Encounter a stunning early modern interpretation of a traditional Japanese residence at Kusuo Yasuda’s Former Residence (1919), and a rare example of capsule architecture at Kisho Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower (1972).
  • Be uplifted by one of Tokyo’s finest gardens at the Nezu Museum and by the modern art exhibits of the nearby Mori Art Museum, occupying the top five floors of Kohn Pedersen Fox’s 54-storey Mori Tower.
  • In Tokyo stay at the Cerulean Tower in Tokyo, superbly located overlooking the famous Shibuya Crossing.
  • Dine on superb Japanese cuisine that reflects the importance of flavour, artistry and aesthetics in each dish. Enjoy a delicious array of kaiseki dishes at the Awata Sanso in Kyoto, an historic building overlooking a charming traditional garden. In Tokyo experience the sleek and modern Tateru Yoshino restaurant in Ginza. Both restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars.
  • Visit Japan’s most dynamic cities during January, avoiding the tourist crowds.

14-day Architecture and Design Tour of Japan

Overnight Kyoto (5 nights) • Kurashiki (2 nights) • Tokyo (6 nights)

Immerse yourself in the very best of Japanese architecture and design with Stephen Crafti on a tour that showcases the finest contemporary art, architecture, furniture and fashion. Highlights include a day trip to Naoshima Island and hosted visits to a number of projects with their architects or designers in Kyoto and Tokyo. We explore the unique way contemporary Japanese design draws on centuries of tradition, using it towards the creation of a modern aesthetic. The tour begins in historic Kyoto, where a reverence for the traditional melds with an appreciation for the contemporary, reflected in the rejuvenation of historic architecture and craft. We encounter craft ateliers and design stores where the clean lines of the Japanese aesthetic are enhanced by the use of traditional materials and techniques. Machiya (traditional houses) are being restored and renovated by the city’s leading architectural firms and reincarnated as guesthouses, cafes and boutiques. At the same time, public spaces such as museums and theatres allow for extraordinary cutting edge architecture. Japan’s most acclaimed architect, Tadao Ando, hails from nearby Osaka, and we visit his stunning Shiba Ryotaro Memorial Museum as we head south to spend a day on the art island – Naoshima. In addition to Ando’s Benesse House Art Museum, Naoshima hosts a number of galleries, art installations and fascinating outdoor sculpture. During our 6-night stay in Tokyo we focus on the 20th and 21st centuries. While there are precious remnants of earlier masterpieces, such as the Jiyu Gakuen School by Frank Lloyd Wright, much of the city’s aesthetic reflects the dynamism of the mid-20th century onwards. Museums, libraries, retail stores and places of religion boast designs by Le Corbusier, Ando, Renzo Piano and Toyo Ito. Districts around Omotesando and Ginza dazzle with their rich array of designer stores, their fashion and homewares displayed in spaces fitted out by leading interior and lighting designers. The tour is timed to run in January, when the tourist crowds have dispersed and the winter days are crisp. Stay in leading centrally located hotels, dine at fine restaurants that reflect the importance of artistry, aesthetic and flavour in Japanese cuisine, and travel by Japan’s sophisticated transport systems (including the shinkansen). You might even be tempted to indulge in the famed January sales!



The following itinerary lists a range of museums, galleries, buildings and design projects which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but some require special permission, which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in museum opening hours and privately hosted visits. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals as indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meal.

Kyoto - 5 nights

Day 1: Saturday 18 January, Arrive Kyoto
  • Welcome Meeting at the hotel

This tour starts at the Mitsui Garden Hotel Shinmachi Bettei in Kyoto. Please make your own way the the hotel. The the late afternoon we will gather for a welcome meeting.

Kyoto was the capital of Japan from the late 8th century until 1868, when the court was moved to Tokyo. It is home to 17 World Heritage sites, 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, yet much of the city centre is modern. The city is renowned for its aesthetic that merges the highly respected traditions of the past with contemporary design. (Overnight Kyoto)

Day 2: Sunday 19 January, Kyoto
  • Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)
  • Nishiki Market
  • Issey Miyake store (Naoto Fukasawa)
  • Aesop (Torafu Architects)
  • Zohiko Lacquer store
  • Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant

Kyoto is notable for its extraordinary diversity of Japanese gardens, including many of the finest traditional temple gardens. We start our exploration of Kyoto with a visit to the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji). The pavilion was begun in 1394 by the shogun Yoshimitsu. It recalls Sung period architecture but it is a recreation, the original having been burned down in the 1950s. Yoshimitsu positioned his palace on the edge of a lake. The ground floor was a reception room for guests and departure point for leisure boating, the first storey was for philosophical discussions and panoramic views of the lake, while the upper floor acted as a refuge for Yoshimitsu and was used for tea ceremonies. The size of the gardens is increased visually by the water’s convoluted edge, the use of rocks and clipped trees, and by visually ‘borrowing’ a distant view of Mt Kinugasa that creates a sense of gradation between foreground, middleground and background.

We shall then walk through the traditional 17th-century Nishiki-koji covered market, which has for centuries been the focus of food shopping in the city. You may wish to try Japanese pickled vegetables or purchase teapots and teabowls from a traditional vendor.

After time at leisure for lunch, we shall visit three nearby stores. The Issey Miyake store in Kyoto is situated within a machiya house (a traditional wooden townhouse), with a restoration and interior design by Naoto Fukasawa. The space is a harmonious melding of the traditional and contemporary. A short walk away is the Aesop store in a building designed by Torafu Architects. Here, the inspiration for the store’s interior design was the laboratory; metal pipe light fittings with bare globes descend from the high ceiling, bathing the elongated narrow space with light. We finish our walk at Zohiko Lacquer, one of the city’s best showrooms of fine lacquer work. Zohiko has been in operation for centuries, and the traditions of this ancient craft are respected by contemporary designers whose work is represented here.

This evening we enjoy a Welcome Dinner of keiseki cuisine, a feast of many small artistically presented dishes. (Overnight Kyoto) BD

Day 3: Monday 20 January, Kyoto
  • Machiya Guesthouses
  • Ateliers of transitional craft artisans

Today we will visit a selection of fine ateliers belonging to craftspeople who are dedicated to juxtaposing ancient and traditional materials and techniques with contemporary design. Their skills, and often the business itself, have been passed down through families for generations, and the items they create retain the beauty and quality of a bygone era. However, their survival and relevance in the modern world is dependent on them maintaining an innovative approach to design. We will visit the showrooms and workshops of metal workers, bamboo weavers, textile designers and papermakers.

We will also take the opportunity to explore a sample of Kyoto’s machiya – the traditional wooden townhouses that were popular with Kyoto merchants and craftspeople until just before World War II. Kyoto was not bombed during the war, and many fine machiya have survived and been converted into restaurants, shops and guest houses. Traditionally machiya are long and narrow, often with an enclosed courtyard garden towards the rear of the property, and created with organic materials – wooden beams, tatami mats and sliding paper screen doors. The examples we will visit have been renovated by some of the city’s leading architecture firms who have maintained the simplicity and beauty of the house while introducing innovate design elements to create attractive, modern accommodation. (Overnight Kyoto) B

Day 4: Tuesday 21 January, Kyoto
  • Kyoto Costume Institute
  • Arts & Science Central store
  • Garden of Fine Arts (Tadao Ando)
  • Kyoto Concert Hall (Arata Isozaki)

This morning we visit the Kyoto Costume Institute. This collection is not generally open to the public and our visit will be subject to obtaining special permission. The Institute houses a remarkable collection of western style garments from around the world, with samples from each era from the 17th century to today. The world’s greatest fashion houses have contributed to the collection, including Chanel, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton. Most importantly, however, the garments from the 20th and 21st centuries include designs by leading Japanese fashion designers, such as Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons fame.

We make a brief visit to the Arts & Science store, a business owned by Sonya Park with shops in Kyoto and Tokyo. The store is filled with goods selected by Park who  said “I’m opening a shop, and I’m stocking it only with things I love.” The business specialises in craftworks by local and international artisans, creating clothing, jewellery, food and daily items.

The Garden of Fine Arts is a creation of architect Tadao Ando, who has created a traditional Japanese stroll garden using architecture. Located on the edge of the city, it is an outdoor museum where Ando has used light, water, glass and concrete to evoke the serenity of traditional Japanese architecture. Spread over several levels connected by ramps and utilising the narrow area of the site, the museum itself presents reproductions of European artworks on ceramic panels, including a representation of Monet’s Waterlilies that forms the base of a reflection pool.

A short stroll away is the Kyoto Concert Hall by Arata Isozaki. The building was opened in 1995 as part of the 1200th anniversary celebrations for the foundation of Heian-kyo (Kyoto). The exterior of this striking building is clad in dark silver terracotta panels. Isozaki limited the range of materials used on the project, selecting only those that can withstand the passing of time.

“I use ceramic panels in a way that is unusual.  Because of glazing ceramics never have perfectly flat surfaces or edges.  This tolerance for slight imperfections might be said to be the architectural equivalent of that quality people in Kyoto refer to by the word hannari which is the highest compliment one can pay to a woman in the prime of life.  I felt that people in Kyoto would not accept something that did not possess that quality.”

The interior spaces are deliberately complex, and again Isozaki has drawn on Kyoto’s architectural traditions. For example, the decision to have a long and bending hall reflects the approach to a temple. Such techniques also serve to make the space appear more generous than it is, and are coupled with giving spaces a dual purpose (the open floor area at the foot of the stairs is designed to serve as a stage for lectures), and windows allowing views across to the adjacent Botanical Gardens. (Overnight Kyoto) B

Day 5: Wednesday 22 January, Kyoto
  • Ateliers of transitional craft artisans
  • Afternoon at leisure

This morning we continue our exploration of the traditional yet modern ateliers of Kyoto. The afternoon is at leisure to further explore this fascinating city. (Overnight Kyoto) B

Kurashiki - 2 nights

Day 6: Thursday 23 January, Kyoto – Osaka – Kurashiki
  • Asahi Beer Oyamazaki Villa Museum of Art, Kyoto, including Underground Jewelry Box annex (Tadao Ando)
  • Shiba Ryotaro Memorial Museum, Osaka (Tadao Ando)
  • National Museum of Art, Osaka (Cesar Pelli)
  • Shinkansen (bullet train) Osaka to Okayama

This morning we depart Kyoto and drive to the Asahi Beer Oyamazaki Villa Museum of Art. The Oyamazaki Villa was built in the early years of the 20th century as a British-style mountain villa for businessman Shotaro Kaga. This historic building serves as the main building of the museum. Two annexes – the Underground Jewelry box and the Dream Box – were later designed by Tadao Ando when the villa was being saved from demolition by the Asahi Beer company. The collection of artworks include fine paintings by Claude Monet, including several Waterlilies, ceramics by Kanjiro Kawai and a sculpture by Henry Moore. Ando’s annexes serve to unite the spaces of the museum and are partly submerged and covered with greenery in order for them to maintain harmony with the surrounding mountainside.

We continue towards Osaka where we visit the Shiba Ryotaro Memorial Museum by Tadao Ando. Shiba Ryotaro was an important writer of the post-war period. The museum incorporates his home and Ando’s building which was inspired by the writer’s expentive library. The use of light plays an important part in the design, and reflects the way Shiba’s work cast light and hope into Japan’s dark post-war years.

In the heart of Osaka is the National Museum of Art. While the collection is world class, it is the architecture by Cesar Pelli that is truly remarkable. The museum itself is underground; all that can be seen on the surface is the delicate metal framework that Pelli created to resemble reeds in the wind – a suitable allusion given the museum’s location on the little island of Nakanoshima.

After a short visit to the museum we transfer to Osaka station to take the shinkansen to Okayama and then on to Kurashiki where we will be based for 2 nights. (Overnight Kurashiki) BLD

Note: Our luggage will be transported directly to our hotel in Tokyo and be ready for our arrival on Saturday. An ‘overnight bag’ will be needed for use in Kurashiki.

Day 7: Friday 24 January, Kurashiki – Naoshima – Kurashiki
  • Ferry to Naoshima Island
  • Tour of Naoshima Island including Benesse House Art Museum (Tadao Ando) and outdoor art installations
  • Return to mainland by ferry

The island of Naoshima in the Seto Inland Sea is home to a number of contemporary art museums and outdoor sculpture exhibitions. The Benesse Corporation installed much of the art on Naoshima and the neighbouring islands, and commissioned the design and construction of several museums by Tadao Ando. This commission included the Benesse House Museum, the Chichu Art Museum and the Lee Ufan Museum.

This morning we take a ferry from the mainland to Naoshima Island and spend a day visiting some of the remarkable art exhibitions, sculpture and architecture the island has to offer. In the late afternoon, we return to the mainland by ferry. (Overnight Kurashiki) B

Tokyo - 6 nights

Day 8: Saturday 25 January, Kurashiki – Tokyo
  • Shinkansen (bullet train) Okayama to Tokyo
  • International Library of Children’s Literature Tokyo (Tadao Ando)
  • Gallery of Horyuji Treasures (Yoshio Taniguchi)
  • Architecture tour of The National Museum of Western Art (Le Corbusier with Kunio Maekawa, Junzo Sakakura, Takamasa Yoshizaka; extension Kunio Maekawa)

This morning we travel by Shinkansen to Tokyo. After time at leisure for lunch on arrival, we transfer to Ueno Park. We first view the exterior of Tadeo Ando’s International Library of Children’s Literature, a renovation and expansion of the former Imperial Library built in 1906. Ando’s subtle interventions create a dynamic juxtaposition between the old and the new. They are simple but elegant, comprising a glass volume that pierces the earlier Renaissance-style street façade at a slight angle to form an entry. This glass volume then continues along a courtyard to form a full height glass façade, as well as a lounge space between it and the original façade. It is flanked on each end by a concrete volume containing staircases.

Nearby, we also view the exterior of the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures designed by Yoshio Taniguchi in 1999. The character of this refined, minimalist gallery building is subtly defined through a spatial play of transparency, opacity, and reflection and the relationship between vertical and horizontal planes, solid and void, and interior and exterior.

We finish with a visit to Le Corbusier’s masterpiece, the National Museum of Western Art, Japan’s premier Western art museum. The museum is square in plan with the main body of its galleries raised on piles to first floor level; its layout is similar to Le Corbusier’s Sanskar Kendra museum in Ahmedabad, India, which was designed at the same time. A glazed pyramidal skylight intersected with reinforced concrete beams and a column lights Corbusier’s double-storey space. Visitors ascend to the paintings gallery via a promenade ramp that affords excellent views of Rodin’s sculptures.

At the conclusion of the tour we transfer to the Hotel Cerulean Tower, where we will stay for 6 nights. (Overnight Tokyo) B  

Day 9: Sunday 26 January, Tokyo
  • Mori Art Gallery (designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox)
  • Nakagin Capsule Tower
  • Visit the Ginza district, including Maison Hermès (by Renzo Piano), Mikimoto 2 (Toyo Ito), San-Ai Dream Center (Nikken Sekkei), Dover Street Market, and Nicholas Hayak Center (Shigeru Ban)

This morning we visit the Mori Art Gallery in the Roppongi Hills district, occupying the top five floors of Kohn Pedersen Fox’s 54-storey Mori Tower. Gluckman Mayner Architects designed its Atrium Lobby, Art Museum, and the Tokyo City View, offering a panorama of the city. Mori’s ambitious solo shows and thematic exhibitions range from the eccentric to the cerebral.

We then travel by subway to Ginza, one of Tokyo’s centres for contemporary architecture and home to the city’s Dover Street Market.

We visit Kisho Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower (1972) – an amazing mixed-use residential and office tower, and a rare extant example of Japanese Metabolism. Although it has fallen somewhat into disrepair, it is important as the world’s first example of capsule architecture built for permanent, practical use.

We shall then have the opportunity to explore this vibrant district and see extraordinary examples of high-end design companies housed in stores designed by the world’s ‘starchitects’, such asToyo Ito’s Mikimoto 2, Renzo Piano’s Maison Hermès, Nikken Sekkei’s extraordinary cylindrical San-Ai Dream Centre and Shigeru Ban’s Nicholas Hayak Centre.

Piano’s corporate headquarters and retail store for Hermès Japan includes offices, workshops, retail and exhibition spaces, multimedia areas and a roof garden. This elegant, glowing, rectangular building, carefully crafted from specially designed glass blocks, giving the impression of a precious object, was inspired by traditional Japanese lanterns. The thick glass façade blurs activity within during the day and at night the building glows from the light within, whilst the thick glass insulates the interior from the noisy, bustling Ginza streets. Hermès products are displayed in clear glass boxes at street level.

Kawakubo Rei of Comme des Garçons envisioned Ginza’s seven-storied Dover Street Market  Department store. Each floor has a different theme, linked by the recurring motif of Kyoto sculptor Kohei Nawa‘s Pulse, a series of whirling white pillars providing an escalator screen on every floor. Elsewhere, Vancouver firm Patkau Architects’ sculptural steel skating shelters sit in the centre of a circular, skating rink-like space, while the surreal ‘Wasp Factory’, an installation by the production designer Michael Howells, dominates the top floor. Japanese labels such as A Bathing Ape, Kolor, Mastermind, Sacai and Visvim occupy the building.  (Overnight Tokyo) B

Day 10: Monday 27 January, Tokyo
  • Morning visits to local design studios and ateliers with Joni Waka of the ART Foundation
  • Maison Koichiro Kimura
  • Ayoyama district area, with stores including  Tod’s Omotesando Building (Toyo Ito), Dior (SAANA), Yamamoto Yohji Flagship Store, Marc Jacob Flagship Store (Stephen Jaklitsch), Prado Aoyama (Herzog & de Meuron), Sfera store

We spend the morning with Mr Joni Waka, the Director of Tokyo’s ART Foundation. He will accompany us on a special tour of a selection of studios belonging to some of Tokyo’s contemporary designers.

We spend the afternoon in Omotesando, a tree-lined avenue located in Tokyo’s Shibuya and Minato wards. It is famous for its excellent contemporary architecture including SANAA’s Dior Building, Toyo Ito’s Tod’s Omotesando Building and the Hertzog & de Meuron Prada Building. It also has a number of designer flagship stores.

We start with a formal visit to Maison Koichiro Kimura, and then there is time to independently explore this area’s extraordinary retail architecture and fittings.

“Looking more like a set from a Lady Gaga video than a shop”, Koichiro Kimura’s Tokyo HQ is as much a futuristic exhibition space for his sensational furniture and tableware designs as it is a shop. The former punk-turned-designer and lacquerware master has transformed a two-storey 1950s house into a white palace fronted by a large gold pyramid. A hot pink back wall provides the only splash of colour in the ground-floor shop whilst upstairs, the walls and ceilings of the showroom are covered with 4000 white lacquered pyramids. Kimura’s family has run a lacquerware business for more than 400 years and he seamlessly combines ancestral techniques with unique contemporary forms.

The Dior building of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (partners at SANAA) has a distinct multi-layered, translucent façade of clear glass covering a second inner skin of translucent acrylic, giving the gentlest of hints at what is inside. The outer skin is perforated with thousands of large and small holes that subtly reveal the illuminated inner skin (which is also patterned). In combination, they replicate the woven pattern of Thonet’s famous chair that Christian Dior adopted as his signature motif.

Toyo Ito’s slender, seven-storey L-shaped Tod’s Omotesando Building contains the Italian footwear retailer’s offices and a boutique fronting the chic Omotesando Avenue. Ito explores ideas of surface – the building’s dramatic structure mimicking the shapes of the tall elm trees that stretch along the avenue – reinterpreting them in its façade as a series of crisscrossing geometric forms, a smooth blend of concrete and glass. Nearby is Yamamoto Yohji’s stark and industrial flagship store. In the 1980s, his bold and often romantic designs contributed crucially to Tokyo’s high reputation in world fashion.

Marc Jacobs’ flagship store combines New York glamour with a Japanese lantern-inspired building designed by Stephan Jaklitsch, the American architect who has designed Marc Jacobs stores worldwide. It won an award of excellence from the American Institute of Architects in 2010. A completely transparent street-level ‘void’ houses the designer’s highly desirable bags, perfumes and ‘Marc Jacobs Aoyama’ T-shirts. One level up, the ‘rock’ zone is decorated with striated terracotta tiles. Above, the ‘lantern’ lights up to create a striking beacon at night. A selection of Jacobs’ stylish menswear is available in the basement. The interiors throughout are a sophisticated blend of warm wood, modern metal, sleek shelves and huge mirrors. It holds its own against its architecturally famous neighbours, Herzog & de Meuron’s Prada building and Jun Mitsui’s ‘The Jewels of Aoyama’ Wallpaper. (Overnight Tokyo) B

Day 11: Tuesday 28 January, Tokyo
  • Full day tour of design ateliers and contemporary architecture projects with Joni Waka of the ART Foundation

We spend today with Joni Waka who will again accompany us on a specially curated tour to ateliers and contemporary architecture projects that he has selected for our program.  (Overnight Tokyo) B

Day 12: Wednesday 29 January, Tokyo
  • St Mary’s Cathedral
  • Architecture tour of Jiyu Gakuen Girls’ School, Myonichikan (Frank Lloyd Wright)
  • Asakura Museum of Sculpture
  • Kusuo Yasuda’s Former Residence

This morning we visit St Mary’s Cathedral. The original 19th century structure was destroyed during World War II, and the building we see today was completed in 1964. Designed by architect Kenzo Tange, this fascinating soaring building features eight hyperbolic parabolas that open upwards to form a cross of light, which in turn continues vertically along the length of the four facades.

We then transfer to the Toshima district, where we shall take a guided tour of the beautiful Jiyu Gakuen Girls’ School, Myonichikan, designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  The Myonichikan consists of four buildings whose extended horizontal lines blend with the landscape, like Wright’s famous ‘Prairie House’ designs. Arato Endo designed one of the four buildings – the auditorium. Myonichikan was designated an Important Cultural Property in May 1997 for its historic and artistic values.

We then visit the small Asakura Sculpture Museum, which is dedicated to the life and work of Fumio Asakura. The museum is located in the historic neighbourhood of Taito. It was opened in 1967 and preserves the sculptor’s home and studio, including a beautiful garden.

We finish the day with a visit to Kusuo Yasuda’s Former Residence (1919), a stunning early modern interpretation of a traditional Japanese house. This elegant wooden house looks out through large windows upon a lovely garden. (Overnight Tokyo) B

Day 13: Thursday 30 January, Tokyo
  • Nezu Museum
  • 21-21 Design Sight (Tadao Ando)
  • Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant

Our day begins with a visit to the Nezu Museum, showing traditional Japanese and Asian works of art once owned by Kaichiro Nezu, a railroad magnate and politician. Architect Kengo Kuma designed an arched roof that rises two floors and extends roughly half a block through the Minami Aoyama neighborhood. The vast space houses over 7000 objects, including works of calligraphy, paintings, sculptures, bronzes, and lacquerware. We also explore the building’s surroundings – one of Tokyo’s finest gardens with 5 acres of ponds, rolling paths, waterfalls and teahouses.

We next visit Tadeo Ando’s and fashion designer Issey Miyake’s amazing 21-21 Design Sight Museum (2007). Ando has said of it: “The idea was to create not only a museum that shows exhibits, but also a place for researching the potentiality of design as an element that enriches our daily life, a place that fosters the public’s interest in design by arousing in them different sights and perspectives on how we can view the world and the objects surrounding us”. The building includes two galleries and a café run by chef and restaurateur Takamasa Uetake. This split-level concrete structure has a hand-sanded steel roof inspired by Issey Miyake’s A-POC ‘A Piece of Cloth’ concept as well as 14-metre long glass panels.

This evening we gather for a Farewell Dinner at one of Tokyo’s fine restaurants. (Overnight Tokyo) BD

Day 14: Friday 31 January, Depart Tokyo
  • Tour ends in Tokyo

Our tour ends in Tokyo. You may wish to extend your stay in Japan or return home. You should find your own way to the airport or consult ASA for transfer assistance. B



14-day Architecture and Design Tour of Japan

  • Kyoto (5 nights): 4-star Mitsui Garden Hotel Shinmachi Bettei – a hotel located in the heart of Kyoto with an interior designed to evoke the historic city’s past. www.gardenhotels.co.jp/kyoto-shinmachi
  • Kurashiki (2 nights): 4-star Kurashiki Royal Art Hotel  a comfortable modern hotel located a short walk from the historic Bikan district. www.royal-art-hotel.co.jp
  • Tokyo (6 nights): 5-star Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel – situated in the heart of the  Shibuya district. It offers spacious guest rooms located between the 19th and 37th floor, with panoramic views of Tokyo’s skyline. www.ceruleantower-hotel.com

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double room for single occupancy throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

How to book

How to Book

Make a Reservation


Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $500.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a single occupancy room throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Practical Information

Practical Information

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 14-day Japan Architecture and Design tour involves:

  • Exploring Japanese cities on foot, with extensive walking (up to 5km per day) and standing during museum and other site visits
  • Inter-city travel by Shinkansen (bullet train)
  • Daily use of Kyoto’s and Tokyo’s public transport system
  • The use of audio headsets which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Overnight Bags & Luggage Transfer

This tour involves two journeys on Japan’s high-speed bullet trains. Larger suitcases are not permitted on these trains. A small overnight bag will be required rather than a large suitcase for the 2 night stay at Kurashiki. The group’s luggage will be transferred by specialist luggage service rom the Kyoto hotel directly to Tokyo where it will be ready for you on arrival.

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $10,480.00 Land Content Only – Early-Bird Special: Book before 30 June 2019

AUD $10,680.00 Land Content Only

AUD $2630.00 Single Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 4-star and 5-star hotels.
  • The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals as indicated in the itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at the hotel.
  • Lecture and site-visit program.
  • Public transport in Kyoto and Tokyo as per the itinerary.
  • Shinkansen (Bullet) inter-city train travel Osaka to Okayama (day 6) and Okayama to Tokyo (day 8).
  • Airport-hotel transfer on departure if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight from Tokyo.
  • Entrance fees as per the itinerary.
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits.
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals.
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Kyoto, Tokyo-Australia.
  • Airport-hotel transfer on arrival in Kyoto or if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ departure flight from Tokyo.
  • Personal spending money.
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs).
  • Travel insurance.
Tour Map

Tour Map

Terms & Conditions

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply. We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we recieve written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to canel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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