Tuesday, January 23, 2018

An intimate trip of Niigata, Echigo-Tsumari “Art Field” Triennale, and Benesse Art Site August 28 - September 11, 2018

Best wishes for an abundance of happiness, joyful adventures, and good health for you in 2018!
I would like to invite you to join me on a custom-designed, intimate tour of Niigata and to visit the Echigo-Tsumari “Art Field” Triennale. 
You may recall in our travels together in Japan or may have heard the latest news that Naoshima's Benesse Art Site is now considered one of the top places to visit in the world.  Naoshima’s Benesse Art Site is inextricably linked with the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale, directed by Fram Kitagawa who is internationally renown for serving as founding advisor for the Naoshima’s Setouchi Triennale that was launched in 2010.  These movements have been enormously successful in helping Japan revitalize its regional and national spirit through art.  This is the trip for you if you want to explore first-hand with me these important narratives, to experience some of the world's best contemporary art, and to immerse yourself in connecting with art, nature, and the Japanese people.
Echigo-Tsumari Program: September 2 - September 11, 2018 
Naoshima Extension: August 28 – September 2, 2018
Unique highlights:
  • Exclusive access to private collections, gardens, art historical sites and museums of Niigata region
  • Receive my in-depth guidance through the art sites, and meet curatorial and local supporters of the Echigo Tsumari Triennale
  •  Stay overnight in James Turrell’s House of Light and in the beautiful Japanese Inns of the famous hot spring towns of Niigata
  • Cultural immersion in the region including a temple pilgrimage and visits to local artisans’ studios
The trip will include airport transfers, 10-nights (main program) and 5-nights (extension) with a mixture of 4-star and 5-star hotels and Japanese Inns, ground transportation, admissions and special visits.    This extraordinary trip is one that cannot be imitated, as I enthusiastically curate and lead the trip, providing my  expertise in service to you.  The overall cost is estimated to range between $7500-8500 for the main program and $2500-3500 for the extension. I will be able to provide the price and a draft itinerary by early to mid-February to those who reply with interest.
A review of my upcoming programs and services for groups, individuals, families, and museum parties.  Do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or are interested in the various ways I can help you to experience Japan and beyond!
Anne’s upcoming travel program calendar:
  • JAPAN: Echigo-Tsumari Triennale (September 2018) with Naoshima Benesse Art Site Extension (August 2018); 
  • EUROPE: Belgium and The Netherlands (Dec 2018  & Mar 2019, latter includes TEFAF) 
  • EUROPE: The Veneto, including 2019 Venice Biennale, Slovenia, and Croatia (June 2019)
  • JAPAN: Sanin Crafts & Textiles and Setouchi Triennale (October 2019)
Anne's curated travel program services:
  • INDEPENDENT TRAVEL: Design customized trips (FIT) for repeat, referral and new clients, including for couples, families, and small groups who would like to travel to Japan independently, building a personalized and seamless itinerary along with travel guidance by me and my team in Japan. 
  • PRIVATE GUIDE: Privately guide on excursions of  Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara (2018), Sanin Region and Setouchi Triennale (2016), Venice Biennale and Italy (2015), Hokkaido (2014, 2013).
  • MUSEUM PARTIES: Lead curated travel programs for art museum delegations to Japan, including for  Mingei International Museum (2017), inSite (2017), San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art (2016), Art Institute of Chicago (2015), Getty Research Institute (2014), Andy Warhol Museum (2014), Aspen Institute (2013), Royal Academy of Arts (2013).
  • TRAVEL PROGRAMS: Lead trips to the best art fairs in Japan, Asia and Europe, including the Setouchi Triennale, Venice Biennale, and Maastricht, providng in-depth historical background of the culture and art of the country from local experts and introducing artists and supporters of the art world.  
Anne Alene, M.A.
Art Travel LLC
Japanese Language & Tour Services 
Tel: 310-980-6449 Fax: 310-393-1642
http://www.arttravelltd.com  CST#2118742-40

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Embark on an autumn adventure: West Japan and the Setouchi Inland Sea Triennale November 12 - 22, 2016

Iyo Matsuyama Castle, Matsuyama, 1603

View of Chichu from Benesse House

Pumpkin, Kusama Yayoi, 1992 Benesse Art Site, Naoshima Island

Teshima Museum, Naito Rei & Nishizawa Ryue, 2010 Teshima Island

Join me on an adventure of Japan in the pursuit of art!

West Japan and the Inland Sea featuring the Setouchi Triennale with art specialist Anne Alene
November 12 - 22, 2016

This unique trip is an opportunity to explore Japan's art and culture while traveling amongst Japan's spectacular fall foliage, the quaint countryside and coastal landscapes of West Japan and the Seto Inland Sea. As
your dedicated art specialist and bilingual tour leader, I will bring Japan alive for you and take you deep into the spirit of the arts of Japan and its people.

The group will gather in Osaka, and then travel through Western Japan, along the northern side of Shikoku and traverse the islands of the Inland Sea. We will visit to the pottery centre and medieval castle town of Hagi, then travel to Hiroshima and cross over to Shikoku Island, to the charming hot spring town of Dogo Onsen, castle city of Matsuyama, and the port city of Takamatsu.

Along the way we will visit historical sites, museums, influential individuals and community members of the regions and have intimate cultural experiences including visits to studios of ceramicists, indigo dyers, bamboo artisans, sculptors and washi paper artisans.

Most important is that the trip is designed with the final destination goal as the Naoshima Islands, where we will have four days of comprehensive visits to the contemporary art sites and installations of the Benesse Art Site and the 2016 Setouchi Triennale.


  • Journey in Japan with me as your enthusiastic Japanese art and culture specialist who has been planning and leading trips to Japan for nearly twenty years.

  • Travel on Japan's efficient, friendly and accommodating transportation system including on the renowned shinkansen bullet train, express and local trains, boats and ferries.
  • Learn about the aesthetic of Japanese ceramics, arts and fine crafts, from traditional to contemporary, and their unique qualities as they pertain to the regions of West Japan, Shikoku and the Seto Inland Sea.
Explore coastal landscapes, small towns, historically preserved and restored villages, and provincial cities that highlight their distinctive heritages along within Japanese history
  • Discover charming shops, galleries, museums, castles, and gardens and temples of the regions.
Meet local artists and people whose lives revolve around the beautiful communities of these areas, to hear their stories about their work and lives, and who are charming representatives of Japan's rich culture, artistic history and culture.
  • Enjoy the local and seasonal Japanese cuisine, which varies even from region to region, at delightful local establishments and hotel properties.
  • Visit the sacred shrines and temples associated with the inland sea and with the Shikoku junrei pilgrimage route designed by ninth-century Buddhist master, Kobo Daishi.
Thoroughly investigate and experience the Naoshima Islands Benesse Art Site and the 2016 Setouchi Triennale with me as your art specialist who has been traveling to Naoshima since its early stages and sharing its important mission for almost 20 years.

November 11 (Friday)
International flights to Japan

November 12 (Saturday)
Arrive in Osaka
Private transfer to hotel

Meet me for a light dinner in the hotel. Overnight: Courtyard Marriott Shin-Osaka

November 13 (Sunday)
Travel from Osaka to the small castle town of Hagi via Shinkansen bullet train and bus.
Studio visits of Hagi ceramic artists

Kaiseki Dinner at Hagi Kanko Hotel
Accommodations: Hagi Kanko Hotel

November 14 (Monday)
Studios and kilns of Hagi ceramic artists

Hagi Castle, local shops, galleries and lunch
Hagi Uragami Museum of Ceramics

Dinner in downtown Hagi at a friend's restaurant
Accommodations: Hagi Kanko Hotel

November 15 (Tuesday)
Travel to Hiroshima via bus and shinkansen bullet train
Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Lunch - Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima Peace Park
Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art
Hiroshima to Matsuyama via high-speed boat
Accommodations: Hotel Tsubaki-an at Dogo Onsen

November 16 (Wednesday)
Travel by local trains, bus and on foot Matsuyama Castle
Lunch - famous Shikoku udon noodles

Shikoku junrei pilgrimage temples

Japanese banquet dinner at Hotel Tsubaki-kan
Accommodations: Hotel Tsubaki-an at Dogo Onsen

November 17 (Thursday)
Travel by local trains and bus

Konpira Shrine

Noguchi Museum

Indigo dyer's workshop

Lunch - Shikoku's famous udon
Accommodations: Takamatsu Hotel Clement

November 18 (Friday)
Tea ceremony at Ritsurinkoen garden
Ferry from Takamatsu to Naoshima
Lunch in Honmura Village

Naoshima House Projects
Chichu Museum

Lee Ufan Museum

New sites from the Setouchi Triennale 3rd Edition
Dinner at Issen - seafood delicacies of the Inland Sea
Accommodations: Benesse Park Hotel

November 19 (Saturday)
Interisland ferries to Teshima
Teshima Museum

Christian Boltanski's Heart Archive
Lunch on Teshima
New sites of the Setouchi Triennale 3rd Edition
Japanese barbecue dinner
Accommodations: Benesse Park Hotel

November 20 (Sunday)
Interisland ferries to Teshima

Inujima Seirensho Museum

Inujima House Projects

Lunch on Inujima Island

New sites of the Setouchi Triennale 3rd Edition
Transfer to Ushimado Hotel Limani
Dinner at Hotel Limani
Accommodations: Ushimado Hotel Limani

November 21 (Monday)
Interisland ferries to Shodoshima

Lunch on Shodoshima

Local artisan's studio

New sites of the Setouchi Triennale 3rd Edition
Farewell dinner in Ushimado
Accommodations: Ushimado Hotel Limani

November 22 (Tuesday)
Visit to World's Largest Kiln

Transfer to Osaka via coach, shinkansen bullet train and express train for international departures from Osaka-Kansai International Airport or from Osaka-Itami Airport

The price is $7500.00 USD double occupancy, which includes:

  • Airport transfer upon arrival into Japan via private reserved shuttle between Osaka-Itami/Osaka-Kansai and Osaka hotel property
  • Accommodations for 10 nights in Osaka, Hagi, Dogo Hot Springs (Matsuyama), Takamatsu, Naoshima, and Ushimado.
  • Full-time commentary and facilitation by Anne Alene, art specialist and fluent in English and Japanese, using a radio headset system
All group transportation by shinkansen bullet train, express and local trains, public and hired buses, ferries and chartered boats, and taxis
  • Overnight luggage courier service between Osaka and Hagi, Hagi and Naoshima, Naoshima and departing airport
  • All admissions including for the Setouchi Triennale and Benesse Art Site permanent installations
  • All breakfast, lunches and dinners
Airport transfer for international departure between Okayama and Osaka-Itami/Osaka-Kansai via combination of reserved shuttle, bullet train and express train.
Single supplements are available upon request at $1400 USD

NOTE: The group size is limited to 16 and the price is based on a minimum of 10 guests. The price may be adjusted at the time of final payment to accommodate currency fluctuation. It is recommended to arrange flights in order to arrive at and depart out of Osaka-Kansai International or Osaka-Itami Airport. Please ask for recommended flight patterns based on your departing airport, so I can provide the best timing for your arrival to Japan and return home.

I realize that many of you are very busy and already have travel plans set for this autumn. Alas, I am reaching out to all of you, and especially to those who have been my guest on past trips and want to return again, or to those who have expressed an interest in going to Japan with me.

Registration opens today on April 14 and is based on a first come first served basis. Your precious spot on the trip can be confirmed with a 20% deposit that is applied towards the final balance.

With best wishes, and I am looking forward to traveling with you!


P.S. Good news - I finished a graduate thesis and master's program in Art History! I am so grateful to all of YOU for your encouragement and support.

Anne Alene, M.A.

Art Travel LLC

Japanese Language & Tour Services

Art Specialist / Art Travel Planning & Guidance

Email: annealene@gmail.com; anne@arttravelltd.com
Tel: 310-980-6449 Fax: 310-393-1642


Art Travel LLC
Connecting you with the world of art

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ryoanji - 2 million year old art

Some of the 15 stones in Ryoanji's garden have been tested and are said to be over 2-million years old.  This is a work which embodies 2-million years of time, representing both timelessness and impermanence. Human beings come and go, but the stones of Ryoanji remain intact, welcoming pilgrims from all over the world and for centuries to come.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nature as God's Artwork

Art has long been deemed as a man-made, human or creatively inspired object using materials and providing a dialogue and inspiration for the time. However, in February, I lead a team of wildlife photographers to the northern most island of Japan, Hokkaido. It was there that I was reminded of the most important artwork within our world: the natural world, which is not man's but God's, or a power beyond our comprehension's, canvas. Amongst the snow covered mountains, frozen lakes and misty rivers of Hokkaido and Nagano, we saw up close red-crowned cranes, red foxes, Stellar sea eagles, deer, Whooper swans, Macau monkeys, woodpeckers, and even yaks.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hello from Tokyo! I have promised to write about a magical spot in the inland Sea of Japan some months ago, and I have not forgotten the commitment to share the story of Teshima and my encounters with art. Yet, it has been a long year of travelling, not only escorting art aficionados and planning travel programs, but also flying to Chicago and Western North Carolina, immersed with family and friends, mourning the loss of two of the kindest and most supportive men in my life, my father, Bill, who passed November 19, 2011, and my stepfather, Joe, who then passed on July 13, 2012. It has been a year of living each moment carefully, spending moments with loved ones, missing and remembering my fathers, and meeting and traveling with people who take the time to know Japan's arts and culture. The importance of being present and loving one another has never been more apparent, savoring the blessing of our existence and the opportunity to be here to serve one another during such a short time. I promise to return with news of Teshima and other upcoming trips.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Please check out my upcoming trip to Japan in October 2012.

Ceramics of Japan Tour

The Japan ceramics tour from October 5 – 15, 2012 is designed for enthusiasts, potters and anyone interested in the art of Japan. On this journey we’ll discover the beauty of both the lush countryside and the incredible ceramics of Japan. Joining art expert Anne Geismann Alene, your guide, will be guest lecturer Robert Yellin, one of the foremost experts on Japanese Ceramics. With such a talented team you’ll return home with an education in ceramics, from mingei pottery to high-fired, low-fired, glazed and unglazed yakishime.

From our base in Kyoto we’ll visit the great pottery centers of Shigaraki, Bizen and Tambe to explore the unique styles of each and learn about both traditional and contemporary ceramics. Throughout the Japan ceramics tour we will have many opportunities to be guests in potter’s studios, where we will hear about their lives and their art. We will also get to see the work of other craftsman in Kyoto and to enjoy the mastery of these artists. We’ll visit small towns full of artisans still working with traditional materials in both ancient and innovative ways.
Itinerary – Ceramics of Japan

Friday, October 5 Depart for Japan on your individually arranged flight.

Saturday, October 6 Arrive Japan

Arrive Osaka Kansai airport. You will be met and transferred by reserved van shuttle to the Palace Side hotel in Kyoto, our well-located tour hotel and convenient to public transport.

Sunday, October 7 Kyoto

Spend the morning at Daitokuji Zen monastery, for a private experience of the Way of Tea with the abbot of Zuihoin sub-temple and a discussion of how the ceramic history of Japan is so closely tied to the tea ceremony. After a Zen style vegetarian lunch, visit the studio of an American artist who has made her home in Kyoto for the past 30 years. End the day in Eastern Kyoto for a walk along the Philosopher’s Walk to a Robert Yellin’s Yakimono Gallery for our first introduction to the world of Japanese ceramics. Return to the hotel for dinner on your own.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

Monday, October 8 Tamba

Travel to the town of Tamba to start the exploration of ceramics with a visit to the studio and kilns of some local ceramic artists. Tamba ware originated in the medieval period, and is typically a style used for storage jars and vases and it is also famous for its sake bottles. Rob will put the artists you are visiting in context so that you will have a deeper appreciation of this type of Yakishime, high-fired unglazed stoneware. After our return to Kyoto we will have a group dinner at a local restaurant.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Tuesday, October 9 Kyoto

We begin today in Western Kyoto at Tenryuji, one of the oldest gardens in Kyoto, dating from the early 14th century. The garden was designed by Muso Kokushi, a renowned priest, diplomat, meditation teacher and garden designer. You will have a private tour of the Hogo-in villa, which is not open to the public. The villa is an outstanding example of highly refined and inventive sukiya-style carpentry. After lunch, we have an appointment to visit Saiho-ji, the Moss Temple garden. There we’ll hear priests chant the Heart Sutra, try our hand at calligraphy, and explore the mystical stroll garden. Return to the center of Kyoto to visit a current ceramics show. Tonight dinner will be on your own.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

Wednesday, October 10 Bizen

Today we head to Okayama prefecture for a visit to the Bizen Pottery Village in Imbe. Rob will lead us on an exploration of the various tunnel kilns and artists still practicing the centuries old art of creating these unique reddish or brown-colored, unglazed works. We will learn about the six major variations of Bizenware and how they are created through the careful placement of the objects in the kiln.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

Thursday, October 11 Kyoto

Start the morning in the eastern hills with a visit to Kiyomizu-dera for a scenic view of Kyoto and then a day exploring the rich ceramic history of Kyoto, including the Raku Museum. There will be free time for lunch and to explore the ceramic shops and galleries in the historic cobblestone streets of Ninnenzaka. Finally, visit the Kawai Kanjiro Memorial House, formerly the home and workshop of the famed 20th century designer and ceramic artist, who was part of the Mingei (folk craft) movement. Enjoy a visit with a contemporary mingei artist. Take an early evening walking tour of the Gion geisha district before dinner on your own.
Included meals: Breakfast

Friday, October 12 Kyoto

Start the day at one of Kyoto’s quiet garden for a reflective moment. Follow with an introduction to ikebana and a demonstration of how the work of various ceramic artists are incorporated into the design of beautiful floral arrangements. A Kyoto-style lunch will be served in a private room at Kyoto’s oldest inn and garden, located facing the Takano River. The current proprietor is the 20th generation in his family to run the inn. After lunch, enjoy a performance by a master koto player. We have chosen a number of musical pieces that will provide a broad based introduction to this 1400-year-old art form. The rest of the afternoon will be free for exploring Kyoto on your own or using Esprit’s complimentary shopping map.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

Saturday, October 13 Shigaraki

On today’s out-of-town excursion by private bus to Shiga prefecture, we will visit the Miho Museum, designed by IM Pei and located in a spectacular mountain setting. We’ll enjoy a Japanese bento lunch en route and will visit the studios of a selection of ceramic artists and kiln tours with commentary provided by Rob Yellin. Return to Kyoto by early evening.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

Sunday, October 14 Kyoto

Today is devoted to a series of visits carefully selected by Rob Yellin to highlight contemporary ceramic artists in the Kyoto area. End the day with a farewell dinner.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Monday, October 15, Depart Japan on your individually arranged flights

Transfer by reserved van shuttle, per individual flight times, for your return flight from Osaka Kansai Airport OR you may elect to join our two-night extension to the Benesse Art Site on Naoshima Island.
Included meals: Breakfast

Optional Extension:

Monday, October 15 Teshima and Naoshima Islands

Travel early this morning with your guide, art expert Anne Alene, to the fabulous Benesse Art site on Naoshima Island. Transfer via train and private ferry to Teshima to visit Christian Boltanski’s Heartbeat Archive and the Teshima Museum. Travel on via public ferry to Naoshima Island and a stay a the Park Hotel. After touring you can watch the sunset over the Inland Sea. For dinner this evening, enjoy the specialty of the house: a contemporary interpretation of traditional kaiseki (multi-course, exquisitely presented meal) served on an array of artistic functional ware from kilns all over Japan.
Hotel: Benesse Park Hotel
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Tuesday, October 16 Naoshima Island

Today we will visit the Art House installations, the Chichu Museum, the Lee Ufan Museum and various art installations across Naoshima Island. Dinner tonight will be the fine cuisine at the Terrace restaurant, located in your hotel.
Hotel: Benesse Park Hotel
Included meals: Breakfast, dinner

Wednesday, October 17 Depart to US

Depart this morning via ferry and train directly to Osaka Kansai airport for late afternoon flights.
Included meals: Breakfast

Registrations will be accepted as of March 21, 2012

Travel Notes – Ceramics of Japan Tour

Price: $5195

Tour Price Includes:

Ten nights accommodations in Kyoto Palace Side hotel, sharing a room
Daily breakfast and additional meals as indicated
Round-trip airport transfers by reserved, shared van shuttle
All internal trains and buses for the tour, including riding on Japan’s famous Shinkansen “Bullet train”
Informative commentary by an Esprit tour leader who is fluent in Japanese, using our unique radio headset system
Special guest lectures by Japanese ceramics expert Robert Yellin
Admissions and local transportation

Single supplement information is available upon request.
Singles are limited.
Twin beds are the norm in Japan for a double room.
Group size is limited to 16.

Optional Extension to Benesse Art Site: $1500

Minimum group size of 8, there may be a small group surcharge if the Extension group is smaller than 8.

Extension Price includes:

Two nights accommodations in Benesse Park hotel, sharing a room
Daily breakfast, one lunch and two nights dinners (drinks are extra)
All internal trains, ferries and buses for the tour, including riding on Japan’s famous Shinkansen “Bullet train”
Informative commentary by an Esprit tour leader who is fluent in Japanese, using our unique radio headset system
Admissions and local transportation

Price may be adjusted at the time of final payment for currency fluctuation.

For registration information and Terms and Conditions, call 800-377-7481, or email info@esprittravel.com.


Actual visits and events will be finalized approximately 30 days prior to departure to allow for the inclusion of special exhibitions, visits and events, and are dependent on the schedules of our Japanese colleagues. A final itinerary will be sent to you about two weeks prior to tour departure. The itinerary is subject to change at any time.
My apologies as my promised "new year" article is becoming a "mid-year" article...as I'm going to be in Japan until June 1. I will return from my trip with a good article about my trip to the "Holy Grail" to which I refer!