This will be a taster of historic gardens old and new. It is designed for those garden lovers who have never visited Japan and would like their first experience of Japanese gardens, food and culture.

Centered on Kyoto and its surrounding areas but also including the gardens of Hiroshima and the nearby Miyajima this tour introduces the travellers to the delights of Japan through its gardens and temples.

We cover all the periods of development and influence from the 8th c Nara period as archaeological reconstructions, through to the late 20th c  Miho museum. This uninterrupted garden making over 1300 years is unique and incorporates Shinto, Buddhist and surprisingly Christian beliefs with Chinese and Korean influences. We will also look at a number of 20th c gardens of Shigemori Mirei and visit his own house and garden now kept as a museum.

Guests will be astonished that it is actually possible to visit a park in central Kyoto within its original boundaries from the 9th century, built for a Government minister in 872. Shoseien is enchanting. Nearby another design gem at Shinsenen, a survivor of the earliest Chinese influenced gardens created after Kyoto’s foundation in 785, is this small red bridge the remains of large grand walled pleasure grounds which were built for the Emperor Kammu. (below)Day trips will take us out into hinterland of Kansai province including the Aji pond and surrounding landscape at Byodo-in, an example of a Paradise garden, from the later Heian period. It provides the setting for the exquisite Phoenix Hall, a rare wooden survivor of Chinese influenced architecture from 1053. The whole designed as a recreation of the Amida Buddha’s Western paradise with bridges crossing the pond into it. (below)

Though most Japanese live in built-up urban environments they live close to nature, observing the changing seasons with their food, ikebana and paintings. Taking a bullet train to Hiroshima we will experience the uplifting joy of the Peace park where alongside the river families can be seen picnicking under the blossoming cherry trees against the backdrop of the re-built city.

In journeying through Japan we will eat traditional vegetarian food in a Buddhist temple, picnic on a floating punt along a cherry-tree lined river and visit the Tale of Genji museum to experience a very special tour of the culture of the land of the Rising Sun.

The tour is run through Inside Japan a UK based company which has considerable experience running tours in Japan. We shall be a maximum of 15 guests with a Japanese tour guide. The price begins at £4231 for 15 days sharing a room and not including the air fare.

Contact Kristina Taylor for further details: