Everyday Beauty: Art and Literature of Japan

shutterstock_185497421From the Heian to the Edo periods, and through to the present, traditional Japanese culture has achieved a rare refinement. Temples and gardens, poetry, literature, calligraphy, woodblock printing, the way of tea: beauty infused nearly every aspect of life.

For the lover of art, Kyoto is a must-see destination, in a class with Florence or Paris. Our seven full days there give us an unparalleled opportunity to immerse ourselves in the ancient capital at a relaxed and convivial pace. From moss gardens to grand wooden temples to intricately carved netsuke, we will gain a deeper understanding of the arts of classical Japan. March is a lovely time to visit with plum trees blossoming and the city relatively uncrowded.

From Kyoto we travel to the iconic Benesse House, the contemporary art museum and resort hotel on Naoshima Island. Renowned for its innovative art projects, the remote and idyllic tiny island in the Setouchi Inland Sea has an almost Mediterranean climate. Contemporary art works are scattered across rice fields and set in ancient wooden houses and the resort itself, created by renowned architect Tadao Ando, is a museum where guests can sleep.

Our expert Japanese guides will give their insights on walking tours of Kyoto and explorations of the art on Naoshima Island. Melanie Blake’s presentations will explore themes of Japanese literature and culture as we read and discuss Japan’s greatest classical haiku poets—Basho, Buson, and Issa—and excerpts from The Tale of Genji, written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu in the 11th century, along with a selection of contemporary literature. Zen Buddhism is of course central for the arts of Japan, and we will read Zen stories and koans and take part in a traditional tea ceremony.

If have enjoyed Classical Pursuits’ European art tours, this is the journey for you. The beauty of Japan will change the way you see.

Ready to Book?

To learn more or book your spot, email Ivan at ivan@worldwidequest.com or call toll-free 1-800-387-1483.


Get a detailed itinerary

Kyoto, Naruto, and Naoshima, Japan

March 3–13, 2024

2024 COST
Single supplement: US$1200

Noku Kyoto, Kyoto; AoAwo Naruto Resort, Naruto; Benesse House

12 to 16 participants

Melanie Blake is the director of Classical Pursuits. She studied literature at Fordham University and has a master’s in linguistics from the University of Nottingham. She has worked or travelled extensively in the Americas, Europe, India, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. She's led Classical Pursuits tours in France, Belgium, Colombia, Mexico, and Italy. With her husband, who is a Zen lay monk, she enjoys the many opportunities to explore Japanese culture available in her home in California.

The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa (Essential Poets), by Robert Hass; Kyoto: A Literary Guide, edited by John Dougill
The Tale of Genji (excerpts), translated by Royall Tyler

Cost includes guides, readings, accommodation in double occupancy, two meals a day, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, admissions, and taxes and gratuities.

Back to Travel Pursuits Main Page

Ask a Question


Travel Pursuits 2024