The world’s oldest standing wooden building (a Buddhist temple in Nara, built in the 7th century) is among the treasures we visit on our Japanese tours, which celebrate the country’s immensely rich and long-standing cultural traditions. Our itineraries focus on, respectively, art and gardens, both reflecting a uniquely delicate aesthetic and way of life. In Japan, crafts such as pottery, textiles and metalwork have been accorded as much respect as the ‘high’ art forms of painting and sculpture, and we celebrate many fine works, across the genres, in temples, shrines and museums; from Nara, the first capital of Japan, and culture-rich Kyoto, to thoroughly modern Tokyo. Building on this eclectic legacy the contemporary arts scene is no less fascinating – as we discover on a visit to the celebrated art colony of Naoshima on the Inland Sea – while our gardens tour, which explores the traditional, evolving relationship between garden design and the natural world, coincides with the turning of the autumn leaves.
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