May 26 – June 3, 2024
This art-focused journey through Japan explores the fascinating dynamic between artistic expression and cultural identity. Participants will explore the heart of Kyoto, the artistic and ancient capital of Japan, learn about the history of Hiroshima, and explore the enchanting Miyajima island and Nara’s Todai-ji temple. Participants on this program experience firsthand how artistic expression both influences and safeguards cultural heritage and identity.
Travel from Los Angeles to Kyoto, Japan.
Arrive in the evening to settle in and discuss the cultural norms of Japan in preparation for your journey throughout the country.
Begin the day by learning essential phrases in Japanese that will help you to immerse yourself more deeply in the culture and language of Japan. Then, use your hands to practice traditional Japanese garment dyeing on homespun fabric. Keep your hands active at the International Manga Museum through an interactive workshop that will invite you to create your own story under the guidance of a Manga-ka (artist).
Travel into the past by touring two UNESCO world heritage sites, the Rokuon-ji and Ryoan-ji temples. These temples are the sites of Japan’s most famous rock garden with beautiful ponds surrounded by local plants.
Take a day trip to the city of Nara, Japan’s first permanent capital and home to the Todai-ji temple built in 752. At Todai-ji, see one of Japan’s largest bronze statues of Buddha and meet the local deer. Continue your cultural exploration at Kasuga Taisha, Nara’s most celebrated Shinto shrine. The shrine is adorned by hundreds of lanterns, only lit twice each year for the Lantern Festivals. Round out your day with a visit to the National Art Museum and a Buddhist Shakyo experience, reflecting on your journey so far.
At the Fushimi Inari Shrine, learn how to make paper cranes while learning about senbazuru, the practice of completing a lei of one thousand cranes to be granted with a wish.
Later, at the Kiyomizu-dera temple, explore the picturesque architecture of Japanese-style gates, halls, and the Otowa waterfall. At the waterfall, visitors catch each of the three streams of pure water with ladles and pray for purification of their six senses and to make their wishes come true.
Finish the day with a guided tour and tea ceremony in the artistic Geisha district of Gion. The word geisha means “art person”, renowned for their skills in singing, dancing, music, flower arranging, tea ceremonies, and calligraphy.
Board the shinkansen (bullet train) to Hiroshima. Stroll through the downtown and meet with a local to learn about the history of the city, marked by the atomic bomb detonation of 1945. Spend the afternoon at the Hiroshima Peace Museum, taking in more stories of the devastating events and how the lives of the residents were changed forever.
On Miyajima island, famed for its giant torii gate, explore the city with a guided tour to take in the beautiful landscape and wealth of history and culture. In the afternoon, partake in a pottery workshop to learn more traditional artisanal skills of Japanese culture.
Spend your morning in an interactive workshop, learning about taiko drumming, Japanese calligraphy, or traditional cooking skills.
Then, participate in the traditional performing art of Kagura, with an interactive workshop and following performance. Cap off the day by singing your heart out with some karaoke, originally created in Japan.
Begin your journey home.
Insight has delivered international trips for a wide variety of audiences, including both adults and youths, since 2013. Our top priority from start to finish is the health and well-being of our participants. In the event conditions change while on trip, Insight may need to adjust the itinerary to ensure participant health and safety.
As with all trips, risks do exist and participants will need to complete Acknowledgement of Risk documentation prior to departure. Insight will take every precaution to ensure this experience is truly unforgettable, all for the right reasons. To learn more about our health and safety practices, please contact us.