Blog – Japan art tours

Final tweaks to walk-to-art Japan, plus Tokyo and Kyoto discoveries

17 January 2024
Hitsuji bakery, in Kyoto, Japan

Hitsuji bakery, in Kyoto, Japan

Hello, it's been a while! Happy 2024.

In November 2023, a trip to Japan that had been scheduled for 2020 resumed, and I was able to complete the final tweaks to walk-to-art's Seto Inland Sea islands tour.

This trip was just as wonderful as the last. I spent more time in Tokyo and Kyoto discovering great eateries, specialised bakeries and coffee shops. One memorable place was Hitsuji, a small bakery dedicated to natural yeast doughnuts. I'm not a big fan of doughnuts, however, these were incredible, so light and delicate. I was in the line for close to 1.5 hours, but in heaven as soon as I took a bite!

Whilst in Tokyo, I stayed at Hanare a small boutique hotel (guesthouse) in the area of Yanaka – such a special experience. The attention to detail, personalised tour, notes left at breakfast, all contributed to a lovely stay. The area was fabulous and creative.

Weekenders Coffee Tominokoji, in Kyoto, Japan

Weekenders Coffee Tominokoji, in Kyoto, Japan

If you are familiar with the great café CIBI in Collingwood, Melbourne, you will love the fact that their sister café is located in Yanaka. A creative village with no high-rise buildings, small bars and eateries, it is worth a look in next time you are in town.

Travelling in early November the temperature was perfect walking weather. It wasn't until I ventured up north to a group of hot springs located in Towada-Hachimantai National Park that I needed the padded jacket as the snow started to fall. I visited Nyuto Onsen Village and stayed at Ganiba Onsen in the middle of a primeval beech forest. Bathing at night in the forest whist the snow fell was surreal and beautiful, an experience that I always remember!

After many years in the making, I am thrilled to announce that walk-to-art Japan is now curated and scheduled for October 2024. The tour will focus on the art islands of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima. and the group will reside at Uno Hotel, Tamano-shi, for 4 nights.

Towada-Hachimantai National Park

Towada-Hachimantai National Park, in Japan

Next to the hotel is the open air onsen, Setouchi Onsen Tamanoyu. A favourite place of mine, and a chance to bathe under the stars. I will only be taking 8 adults and bookings are now open!








Art in Japan's Teshima and Naoshima: a wonderful cultural experience

artists, spaces

25 June 2018
Teshima Art Museum

Teshima Art Museum: a sublime spiritual immersion

I have just spent the last few weeks in Japan discovering the islands of Teshima and Naoshima.

It was a wonderful cultural experience, with incredible installations by well-known, established artists – Christian Boltanski, Pipilotti Rist, Yayoi Kusama and Tobias Rehberger to name a few.

I was fortunate to have no time restriction, as each island requires at least one day to explore and move from one art space or installation to the other.

Naoshima is the most frequented by travellers and is slightly easier to navigate. Teshima was my personal favourite, but a good level of fitness and navigational skills are required as there is a lack of signage.


Yayoi Kusama's artwork

Yayoi Kusama's "pumpkin" installation on Naoshima

Transport is by foot or bicycle up the mountain or a very slow bus in which you need to wait a while.

Accommodation is available on the islands and, if staying in Naoshima, Benesse House would have to be the pick.

No photography is permitted in any of the museums or art spaces. It was so refreshing to have people connect to the work rather than their electronic devices connect to it.

On Teshima, the Art Museum was a sublime spiritual immersion into a white cave. The curved walls and opened ceiling created an experience like no other. It has to be experienced to be fully realised. Even if one could take interior photographs the images would not do the building justice.


Lee Ufan Museum

Lee Ufan Museum: contemplation and meditation

Naoshima was home to several large "pumpkin" installations by Yayoi Kusama and to the Benesse House Museum. An architectural highlight was the Lee Ufan Museum, a collaboration between internationally acclaimed artist Lee Ufan and architect Tadao Ando.

Surrounded by hills, the museum delivered a space for stillness, contemplation and meditation whilst surrounded by the beauty of the natural environment.

If you are looking for an art destination, the Setouchi Triennale will take place on the islands in 2019 and is worth attending!