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


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" 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!